This year, our students travelled to thriving law firms and legal teams in cities across Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to gain real life experience of working in law.
We asked the students to tell us about their business placement experiences, reflect on the skills they strengthened, what they enjoyed the most and if they had any advice to offer those thinking of applying in 2020.
Students at FM Associates in Bangladesh were trusted with a wide range of important tasks. Among others, they included fund audits, document translations and writing articles on everything from economic zones to copyright laws.
Due to the scope of legal subjects that they experienced, our Bangladeshi students also highlighted an increase in their research and analytical skills. Experience of a legal working environment was also seen as an advantage.
Rukaiya said: “Getting a grasp of professional and business-oriented etiquette is something that can only be learned by seeing and imitating. This exposure of how an office operates and how people communicate with each other has given me a good head start in professional environments.”
The students told us that their placement experience helped their career goals, with many feeling that they could now make a more informed choice about which legal fields they intend focus on in the future. In other cases, the placement left students encouraged by their decision to study law, and renewed their confidence in pursuing a legal career. Ishtiaque said:
I have experienced first-hand how a lawyer lives their life, the way they benefit society, the attachment to the public that they have, the way they litigate and having witnessed all of this, I am now 110% sure that I made the right decision by joining law.
From conducting detailed research on legal matters and current cases, to drafting letters and documents for clients, court visits and giving presentations, students in Pakistan enjoyed a variety of responsibilities.
Uzma would review client queries with a senior associate at RIAA Barker Gillette each morning, exchanging research notes and opinions at the end of the day, with the senior associate answering any of Uzma’s queries related to the law.
Uzma also said: “The firm had an open door policy which enabled me to interact with other employees. This was beneficial because each employee had a different experience before they joined the firm, so they were able to give me quality advice on how I should approach my future career plans in law.”
Many students noticed an increase in their interpersonal and communication skills as a result of giving presentations and interacting daily with practicing law professionals in both work and social environments.
These communication skills include public speaking and writing ability, about which Ruda at Haidermota & Co said: “I developed this skill through the assignments that we were given during the internship. I feel that the ability to summarise a case to include all important information is essential for legal writing, and will therefore be very beneficial in the future.”
When asked if they had any advice for those thinking about applying for a business placement, the majority of students focussed on encouraging anybody considering the opportunity to take it. Ume, whose business placement was with Khalid Anwer & Co., said that the experience not only:
…allowed me to grow personally, but it also helped me to gain new skills in basic research and writing experience that I did not previously have. I also gained a better understanding of the litigation firm, made a new network, and gained a few new references for the future. But most importantly, I gained a new sense of professionalism and a clearer view of what it meant to be in the professional world.
Summayah, who was placed with Orr, Dignam & Co. echoed Ume’s feedback and said: “This placement has provided me the opportunity to discover the various fields related to my career goals. Guidance from my seniors has helped determine a path towards achieving those goals.”
From her time with Coca-Cola, Samiha reflects: “Interacting and working with other people was one of the highlights of my placement, I liked learning from people and their experiences, it made me appreciate teamwork and the teams effort in completing tasks.”
The opportunity to be involved in ongoing cases, and the trust the students were given, were also highly rated. Rai’s placement was as a legal intern at Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd, and said:
“It seemed that I was working on substantially important cases which were material to company's liability and this encouraged me to work with a higher degree of enthusiasm and commitment.”
Ramsha, who enjoyed her time with Ahmer Bilal Soofi & Co Advocates and Counsels encourages students to apply for a business placement if they are given the opportunity:
I would urge other students to apply as the opportunity provides many benefits and will help them decide their future career goals as well the practical aspect of the fields they are interested in pursuing.
In addition to research and drafting responsibilities, the students described sitting in on client consultations and attending workshops.
Harish, completed a placement at Julius & Creasy, characterised the experience as being “immensely rich and varied” and said: “My work was divided between multiple departments of the firm, such as Litigation, Banking, Corporate, Commercial and Tax. Being rotated amongst these departments helped me develop a wide array of skills that will help me when I complete my studies and enter the legal profession.”
The research work is credited by students with increasing their abilities to grasp legal concepts. Iranthi was also placed at Julius & Creasy, and adds that they greatly improved their critical thinking and analysis as a result of sitting in on the client consultations, as well as consultations with other preeminent Sri Lankan lawyers and dignitaries from the Attorney General’s Department.
Iranthi said: “From these meetings and consultations I’ve been able to observe and understand how a great legal argument is constructed from start to finish, as well as the process counsels often go through before submitting it before a court of law.”
Applying for a business placement is not only advised by students for the work-based experience, but also the experience of “learning how the application process works, how to build your CV, and even how to face an interview.”
Once on a placement, Harish advises:
Always be prepared to step outside your comfort zone and be willing to try out new things. There is so much you can learn, and all you have to do to be willing to face new challenges and grow.
He goes on to summarise: “From bringing my CV up to par with what is expected in the professional field to facing an interview with confidence to learning so much - it has certainly been two memorable months - thank you for organising the business placement and giving me this wonderful opportunity!"
- We received 1,116 applications for business placements in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
- Next year, we aim to increase business placement opportunities in our current territories as well as introduce the scheme in Europe and Malaysia. Please contact us if your company is interested in providing business placements.
On behalf of our students and the University of London, we would thank all the companies that participated in the Business Placement (2019) scheme:
- Ahmer Bilal Soofi & Co Advocates and Counsels
- Bombay Stock Exchange Limited
- CBRE Vietnam
- Commercial Bank of Ceylon
- D.L. & F. De Saram
- Ernst & Young
- F.J. & G de Saram
- FM Associates
- Galaxy Communications
- Grant Thornton Vietnam Limited
- HaiderMota & Co.
- Hatch Works Pvt Limited
- Julius & Creasy
- Khalid Anwer & Co.
- Orr, Dignam & Co.
- Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited
- RIAA Barker Gillette
- S&P Global
- Vietnam Airlines
- VNG Corporation
With thanks to:
- The Careers Group for their support in moderating applications.
- Mr Saad Wasim, Regional Advisor South Asia, and British University Vietnam for their facilitation throughout the placement.
The University of London works with various partners to improve the learning experience of its students by launching new initiatives that benefit its students worldwide.