National Careers Week: Q&A
As National Careers Week draws to a close two of our Paralegal Apprentices, Megan and Elena, took the opportunity to talk to Salim Somjee, an Equity Partner, and Fiona Chamberlain, the Paralegal Manager, about their careers.
When we started our apprenticeship we were amazed by the variety of job opportunities that Cripps Pemberton Greenish had to offer. It may seem obvious but not everyone in a law firm is a lawyer! Everyone has a vital role to play in the firm. National Careers Week is the perfect opportunity to recognise this and celebrate diversity within the legal profession.
Why did you pursue a career in law?
Fiona was originally interested in forensics but later decided to apply for a History degree. Before starting the degree she took a year out and began her career by working in a London law firm, she was “hooked instantly”. After deciding law was the career path for her she began her CILEx qualification. Before joining Cripps Pemberton Greenish Fiona worked for the legal team at Transport for London. This job brought many interesting cases and one to mention was brought by Thames Water Utilities against LUL. “Watching a Queen’s Counsel in Court is thrilling and I don’t suppose many young lawyers get that opportunity these days. The case was reported in the Times Law Reports and it was one of my proudest moments. I kept the newspaper clipping for years!”
Salim took the more traditional route of university. “My Grandfather and father were both judges, so I don’t think I had much choice! In saying that, I really started to focus on a career in law during my last year at university. Once I did my corporate seat as a trainee, I knew I wanted to be a corporate lawyer”.
The legal profession, what’s changed?
We wanted to understand the changes the legal profession had undergone during both Fiona and Salim’s careers. The stand out development for them both is technology. Salim highlighted how technology developments have helped us to engage with clients and work out what they want. Fiona also commented on how technology has developed through the years and how much support it offers to us.
Words of wisdom to those entering the legal world
What advice would Fiona and Salim give to young professionals who have started or are considering starting a career in law?
- Never be afraid to ask questions
- Keep calm and work the problem, try and find the answer
- Take every opportunity
- Be open to anything
Apprenticeships – what’s your view?
Salim mentioned how fortunate Cripps Pemberton Greenish has been to have both Paralegal and more recently Solicitor Apprentices. He went on to express his support for the apprentices. “I like the thought of working in a team where people have come to the legal profession using different routes. Each route achieves qualification in a different way bringing different skill sets to the table. Our apprentices have absolutely contributed and added to that range of skill, to create a more rounded team.”
Fiona expressed her proudest moments in her more recent role as Paralegal Manager “Working with junior lawyers and helping them achieve their goals. I’m also very proud of my Paralegal Apprentices. Five months after they started their apprenticeship we went into lock down so the majority of their experience has been working remotely during a pandemic. I’m amazed at their resilience and inspired by their determination”.