Professional Ambassadors

Samita A K

Associate | Kirkland & Ellis International LLP

Profile Highlights:

  • Low income family
  • First generation lawyer
  • Ethnic minority
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Profile:

During one of my first deals in London, I was participating in a meeting in a large conference room where I was not only the only woman present, but the only person of color. Growing up, I had not expected to be in such a position myself. I was born in Bangladesh and raised in Brooklyn, New York, where I attended public schools until I went to university. I was the first in my family to go to law school but was afforded the opportunity to attend a top tier law school in the States and ultimately to work as a New York-qualified attorney doing capital markets work in the London office of Kirkland & Ellis International LLP.

There can be many obstacles to working toward the future you want, particularly when you do not have the same financial resources and social capital as your peers. Even where there are good intentions, it can be difficult to connect with people who do not share your background, your interests and your views. To fit in and to remain competitive with my peers, I have felt compelled to attend networking lunches while fasting during Ramadan, to work through religious holidays and to avoid confronting classmates, professors, colleagues and interviewers whose comments expressed both subtle and explicit biases. It can be easy to forget such moments do not undermine your strength and need not restrict your future goals.

The legal profession, like many other professions, is not as diverse as many of us want it to be, which is why it is that much more important to work where people respect the importance of diversity and understand that although talent is universal, opportunity is not. I think that fair access is critical in any profession and accordingly, with respect to ours, I think there is great value in being part of the Aspiring Solicitors community. I encourage you to take the opportunity to reach out to me or speak with someone who has a similar background to yours or someone who does not, so you can see that there are many different people rooting for you and fighting to make our profession more inclusive and more successful.

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