Future trainee at CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang, and Professional Ambassador for Aspiring Solicitors, Fatima Butt, answered several questions, that we hope will inspire and encourage you in your journeys to becoming a solicitor.
What is the name of your current or future firm and what were your reasons for accepting a training contract there?
The name of my future firm is Olswang (due to become CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang) and I chose it because of its strength in Real Estate and TMT and the strong client secondment opportunities.
Were you a member of Aspiring Solicitors and how did Aspiring Solicitors assist you in your journey?
I was an AS member. Amanda Lee, a professional ambassador at AS, assisted me throughout the process from application form to interview process and even in making a decision as to which firm to choose post-interviews.
AS events were also helpful in that they exposed me to law firms that I did not have access to being a non-Law student. These events helped me speak to lawyers, trainees and graduate recruitment and allowed me to understand what I need to do for a successful application.
Why is diversity important to you?
Diversity is important for me because I believe that everyone should be given the opportunity to pursue the career choices they want, regardless of their socio-economic background.
In terms of diversity, why are you proud of who you are?
I am proud of who I am because I think all the aspects of my socio-economic background make me a unique individual who can bring my experience to any role that I undertake, which will be positive for the business.
What would you say to someone like you entering the legal profession?
Anyone like me entering the legal profession should be proud of who they are and tell their story as it is; as that is what makes them different from the 2000 other applicants.
Why do you think diversity is important to your firm and why do you think they work with Aspiring Solicitors?
My future firm is very committed to diversity and is an affiliate of AS, the firm believes that diversity creates a dynamic firm which is able to provide innovative and varied advice compared to other law firms. By working with AS the firm is able to show its commitment towards the cause of increasing diversity within the firm.
If you were a penultimate year Aspiring Solicitors member, what would your most important piece of advice be with regards university?
To ensure that you try and obtain an average of 65% and above and to ensure that you are exploring both legal and non-legal experiences to learn and develop skills required for law. The penultimate year is when Law students can apply for vacation schemes. Ensure that you research over the summer of first year and apply in your second year as early as possible to make sure that you have completed applications before coursework or exam preparation. For non-Law students, they may not be able to apply for vacation schemes but going to events like law fairs and Aspiring Solicitors events require commitment and research so it’s best to start this now before final year. Please do not let the above overtake your studies as they are equally important. It’s all about time management and organisation.
If you were a 1st year Aspiring Solicitors member, what would your most important piece of advice be in terms of a member’s diversity?
Go to as many events as possible as they will put you ahead of many other students and will clarify if this is really what you want. To ensure that you are speaking to as many professional ambassadors as possible as they have already done what you are trying to do.
Fatima, what would your most important piece of advice be on entering the legal profession?
Research is the most important thing.
Always do the above. It will help you decide and narrow the search of the law firm for you. Once you’ve narrowed your search, you can apply to firms accordingly. Well researched applications will make them genuine and that will help you obtain the vacation scheme and/or training contract you want.
What diversity networks does your firm have that you are aware of? Do they have specific names?
The diversity partners that Olswang works with are; Business In the Community, Employability and Lean In. The internal diversity initiatives of the firm are, Open (an internal LGBT network) and Family Network (an internal network for families with any caring responsibilities). Olswang is also an affiliate of Aspiring Solicitors.
What do you think is the key to increasing diversity in the legal profession is (across all underrepresented groups)?
It is important for law firms to be committed to this internally. This can only be done by accepting that the profession needs to be inclusive. This awareness is and should be raised by organisations such as Aspiring Solicitors.
Who if anyone is your biggest inspiration in life and why?
My father. He moved to England not knowing a word of English and despite this, he encouraged me to pursue my dreams, no matter how far stretched they were.
Who if anyone is an inspiration to you in terms of diversity?
Benazir Bhutto. Being a woman in South Asia and still becoming PM twice is an amazing achievement, especially considering the make-up of Pakistan at the time.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Aspiring Solicitors members?
Without Aspiring Solicitors, I would not have achieved my Training Contract. The guidance I achieved and the opportunities I obtained have been exceptional. Everyone considering a career in law should sign up!