02 December 2015

OS Law Forum

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We were delighted to host a panel of five Old Sennockians at the OS Law Forum on Tuesday 1 December. Salim Somjee (OS 1994), Ben Madden (OS 1991), Ian Penman (OS 1980) and Chris Williams (OS 2002) generously gave up their evening to offer insights into the legal profession through the diverse career paths they have followed. Their experiences of Law have been strikingly different, ranging from working on copyright law in connection with media and publishing, to teaching Law at BPP Law School and providing legal support for mergers and acquisitions in the banking department of a Magic Circle law firm.

The advice they offered about studying Law at university and finding out about the differing degree course content prior to applying, was particularly useful for our audience of over 40 students. The panel were unanimous in agreeing that you do not necessarily need a Law degree to become a lawyer, and that students should choose first degrees that they really love, as they will have the rest of their careers to focus on Law. The panel also confirmed that there is a bottle-neck pattern at play with regards to the number of Law students versus the number of graduate jobs and training contracts, hence applicants need to be able to stand out with a strong academic profile and a minimum of a 2:1 at degree level. Again, they were unanimous in attesting that relevant work experience is extremely useful and shows genuine interest, dedication and commitment on behalf of prospective applicants into the legal job market. They were also clear that attention to detail and efficiency were personal qualities that all lawyers need.

The audience were interested to learn about the work-life balance of lawyers and the panel stressed that ‘peaks and troughs’ tend to be a feature of the industry – and that the notorious ‘all-nighters’ are occasional, rather than frequent. They confirmed that the corporate sector is much more heavily weighted towards a long-hours culture than other sectors. The panel agreed that one aspect of their work that they loved was its lack of predictability and the fact that no two days are the same; they proceeded to regale us with some fascinating accounts of memorable cases they had worked on.

The event was impeccably chaired by Salim Somjee and warmly hosted by Mr. Smith; the audience even included a few OS who are currently undergraduates at the London universities and interested in careers in Law. It was organised by the Higher Education Department and the Development Office and we are now looking forward to hosting the next OS forum on Business and Entrepreneurship on 1 March 2016.

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