Shama Aktar - LSMP: a window into the world of law
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It was in the summer of 2015 that I took part in the Legal Social Mobility Partnership (LSMP) programme, and upon completing the two weeks, my career aspirations of wanting to become a solicitor were confirmed. I spent the first week at Slaughter and May where I was given an independent research task, and the second week at a different organisation each day, meeting in-house lawyers and learning about the law behind each company, developing useful skills related to both study and work. Being in such unfamiliar settings and tasked with such extensive work sometimes felt daunting, but it was an excellent opportunity for me to be given such a good understanding of what it’s like to work in the legal profession. For two weeks, I had the advantage of being able to network with both lawyers and my peers, and take part in a brilliant programme that provided me with invaluable experience and insight.
At Slaughter and May I was tasked with preparing legal research to present to Nicola Phillips, the head of legal at ITV. I was given a set of questions regarding IP issues about a new ITV show and, with the help of LexisNexis, I began my research. The task allowed me to gain an insight into what lawyers do on a day-to-day basis and required me to be independent, while getting it all done within the given time frame. Finally, I had to step out of my comfort zone when actually presenting to Nicola. Prior to the programme, I had to present many times to an audience throughout school and college, but I never had to present in such a professional manner about anything law related; having to do so really boosted my confidence.
We’ve all heard of these big household names – ITV, Microsoft, Yahoo and Viacom - but I never thought that I would get the chance to visit their offices. In my second week of the programme, I spent a day at each office, meeting the legal teams who told us what their everyday jobs entailed. Each day was different and interactive – at Yahoo, in teams, we had to come up with a business idea, using what we had learned about the law to build a strong business plan. At Microsoft we took part in an IP debate, designed to test and enhance our communication skills. Resilience, teamwork and communication are vital skills that are needed in any workplace and academic life, and I developed these transferable skills throughout my two weeks.
After finishing the programme, I was sitting with my brother and sister while my brother played video games. I suddenly said to my sister: “You know, everything in that video game from the title to the character is protected by IP law.” And when it came to writing my personal statement a couple of weeks later, I wasn’t sure how to begin it, but the idea came to me pretty quickly. My opening statement had to stand out in showing my passion for the law. What could be better than saying that presenting a brief to Nicola Philips enabled me to understand that video games are protected by IP law. It was the LSMP programme which allowed me to come up with a great introduction and it became the focus for a part of my personal statement, which enabled me to get into university. It also made me realise that IP law is definitely something I would consider in terms of my future career.
Slaughter and May is a prestigious law firm and I was fortunate enough to take part in the LSMP programme with the firm. This has made me stand out when applying for further work experience placements. I’m particularly proud of winning a scholarship with Trowers & Hamlins, which has offered me financial support, along with a guaranteed spot on its vacation scheme next summer. One reason I was able to win the scholarship was because I had so much to talk about during my interview regarding all the work I did and all the skills I had developed throughout the two weeks of the LSMP programme.
LSMP is a great programme and a fantastic opportunity for young individuals who aspire to work in the legal profession. It has had a big impact on my life and is something that I will always refer back to. I would highly recommend this programme to my younger peers. While it is intense, it comes with so many great opportunities and it was an incredible experience that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Shama Aktar is a first-year undergraduate student at City, University of London. She took part in LSMP in 2015.