ULaw Alumna, Kamso Wilson, was first inspired to pursue her legal career after seeing her uncle leave for work in his ‘cool’ gown and wig. Now a trainee solicitor at Confused.com, Kamso discusses how ULaw gave her the skills needed to start her in-house legal career and the lessons she learned along the way.
My uncle is a lawyer and he is the reason I initially chose to study law. When I was younger and living in Nigeria, I saw him as he was leaving for court all dressed up in his suit, barrister’s gown and wig. I thought he looked really cool and decided I wanted to be like him when I grew up.
I researched LPC providers and ULaw appealed to me most. Also, one of my friends did her LPC at ULaw and she spoke highly of her experience there. I found out ULaw was opening a campus in Nottingham and this sealed the deal for me. I wanted to stay close to home but didn’t want to compromise on the quality of education I would receive. The Nottingham campus meant that I could live at home whilst commuting for the LPC.
Sitting with the same people during the LPC meant we became friends. We knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses and relied on each other. We worked better as a team, helped each other when we struggled with particular topics or modules, and assigned tasks based on our strengths and preferences.
All the tutors who taught us were inspiring and made the LPC more enjoyable. But a special shoutout goes to Mohammad Abdullah and Donna Jeays. Mo taught Business Law and Practice. He always gave straightforward feedback and taught us the best way to approach exam questions, which helped when preparing for my LPC exams. Donna taught the criminal section of Dispute Resolution and she was wonderful. Her sense of humour and simple way of explaining things made it easy for me to understand the module.
I also used the Employability Service at ULaw, both during and after my studies. I had one-to-one appointments with the Employability adviser. She was very helpful and reviewed cover letters and applications for me. She also provided valuable advice on how I could improve my writing, job applications and interviewing skills.
ULaw helped build on my teamwork skills and improve my confidence and my experience cemented my ambition to become a commercial solicitor. After moving to the UK, I discovered that lawyers could be either barristers or solicitors, which is different to the system in Nigeria as lawyers practice as both. Once I learnt what both career paths involved, I decided the solicitor route was better for me. Before starting the LPC I completed a vacation scheme at a law firm and worked as an in-house paralegal. I realised I preferred working in-house to private practice, so decided to pursue opportunities to train and qualify in-house.
I currently work as a trainee solicitor at Confused.com. As an in-house trainee, my ‘client’ is the business and the various departments at the company. Most of my daily tasks revolve around commercial law, specifically drafting, reviewing, and negotiating commercial contracts. I also attend meetings with team members from other departments to advise on the legal aspects of ongoing projects, discuss the status of contracts and any issues with them, and take instructions where the legal team’s involvement is needed.
I work in a small team and it’s a demanding role but my boss (the head of legal) is very keen on us having good work/life balance. She always encourages us to log off at a decent time. It can get hard to manage the balance, especially as I have a hybrid work pattern and it’s sometimes difficult to switch off when working from home. However, having a flexible work environment means that when I work late, I can start later or finish earlier the next day.
Training contracts are hard to come by. For students looking for a training contract I would repeat the advice that I received when I was searching. Persevere and be patient. Keep going until you get one. Also, be open to gaining experience, even non-legal work experience, while looking for a training contract. My non-legal work experience helped me get my training contract as I developed skills which I may not have necessarily developed in a legal role.
For anyone considering an in-house legal career my advice is be open to learning. Due to the variety of tasks an in-house trainee/legal counsel must deal with you will have to learn industry specific information, as well as keeping up to date with various legal and commercial developments which may affect the business as a whole or specific parts of the business.
Finally, be adaptable. You’ll be dealing with a range of different departments and this means your daily tasks will very varied. Each department will require a different approach, and will come to you with unique queries, so being adaptable is very important.
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