Ammar is a newly qualified solicitor who completed his training contract at Fieldfisher LLP. He studied law at the University of Nottingham.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I recently completed my training contract at Fieldfisher LLP, where I was just the third Trainee recruited into the Birmingham office since its opening in 2016, and the only Trainee recruited in my intake. Prior to this, I graduated with a Law Degree from the University of Nottingham (serving on three society executive committees, and writing for the Law School’s magazine in
each edition from 2013 – 2016). I then worked for 6 months as a Real Estate Finance Paralegal in London, and completed the LPC with MSc in Law, Business and Management at the University of Law in Birmingham. In happier (non-pandemic) times, I enjoy travelling and experiencing other
cultures, having recently stayed with a friend in Hong Kong.

2. What do you think helped you stand out from the crowd?

Being the first person in my family (immediate or extended) to enter the legal profession, I knew that I would need to be proactive in gaining as much experience as possible, as well as maintaining strong academics. With this in mind, I sought out many career opportunities early on, from open days at law firms and professional services firms, vacation schemes whilst at University, researching into and joining several career networks (Bright Network, Rare
Recruitment, SEO London), and attending networking events to broaden my exposure and improve my confidence. Being positive, inquisitive and open to networking is beyond useful– I actually met CJ (co-founder of ComAware) for the first time at a legal careers networking event in Manchester!

3. What advice would you give to those preparing applications, and particularly for those who don’t have much legal experience?

Never discount the value of non-legal work experience, or the transferable value of any extra-curricular activity. Equally, don’t worry if you weren’t on the law society at university, but were instead a dedicated part of a sports team, volunteered for a charity society or (like me) were a committee member for the mainstream film society. The fact is that if you were on the executive committee for a society, more likely than not, you will have gained firsthand experience in
running a business. If you were on a sports team, you will have developed collegiality. If you’re genuinely able to draw upon your experiences and relate them to a career in commercial law, you’re halfway there. The rest is just persistence and resilience.

4. What made you stand out in the application process (including the assessment centre)?

I researched into the firm and the office I was applying to, and was able to explain what made it particularly unique, relative to other top international law firms. I had also worked on building my knowledge of commercial issues and new trends in the legal industry, allowing for any potential questions to become conversations at the assessment day (a special shout-out to ComAware.Net, which has been a great resource for this). Additionally, I was on the University of Nottingham mainstream film society for two years, as Publicity Officer and Vice President. There have only been two instances where a law firm representative has questioned why I didn’t instead pursue a role in the law society. Personally, I liked the differentiating factor of being able to enter a new environment, make a success of it, and have something fun to talk about thereafter. Case in point, much of my interviews were spent talking about the weekly and seasonal events that I helped organise whilst on the film society.

5. Are there any things you learned during your training contract which you didn’t expect to learn when you were an aspiring solicitor?

Business development and soft skills are incredibly important to being a successful lawyer. Being able to develop a client relationship, and actively collaborate with the other teams in your business, is necessary not just for your own development, but also for the success of your firm.

6. Having qualified in the middle of a pandemic, what’s one piece of advice you would give to any current trainees about handling the NQ process?

If there was ever a time to be resilient and enthusiastic, this is it. Take opportunities to reach out, be proactive, and find ways to differentiate yourself. Ultimately, the legal market, like any sector, fluctuates (especially in times of economic uncertainty). Though it’s a tough climate, I believe
that if you work hard, act with integrity and are genuinely committed, resilient and proactive, then the right opportunity will soon arise.

7. Did you consider any other career routes or was the legal career a dead certainty?

Once upon a time I considered journalism (being an avid fan of Jon Stewart), or a form of consulting. In my younger and more vulnerable years, I wanted to be a writer. Ultimately, I knew that I’d always been interested in the business world, the inner-workings of society, philosophy,
geo-politics, and the ability to help others – law became a natural fit.