Alia Campbell

My name is Alia Campbell and I am graduate from De Montfort University with a first class honours degree in Law. I have recently completed the Legal Practice Course at BPP Law School in Holborn.

 I arrived promptly at the venue for the BLD Legal Launch Pad Programme (LLP) Induction day which was kindly hosted by Barclays one of the many sponsor firms at their overwhelming and illustrious Head Offices in Canary Wharf. As part of registration, our photos were taken and this was the first opportunity to meet members of the BLD Foundation team including Founder and Executive Head, Debo Nwauzu who was full of smiles and very welcoming from the outset.

Although we had been told in advance of the event to prepare for a packed day, only after receiving our agendas was it clear that you needed to be switched on and focused to truly benefit from the induction day. The day’s events started with a brief introduction from Michael Shaw, Deputy Group General Counsel at Barclays who welcomed us to Barclays and expressed his sincere appreciation for being involved with BLD Foundation’s Legal Gateway Scheme and encouraged us to take all that was on offer from the opportunity to be on the LLP. We then had a very warm introduction from Debo who referred to us starting out on the programme as her children, that she would see grow throughout the course of the LLP year and congratulated us on being on the programme considering the strong competition to gain a place on the 2014 programme.

The day then proceeding with a series of talks all with the purpose of preparing participants for the programme ahead of them and their wider legal futures. Guy Vincent, Partner at Bircham Dyson Bell another of the LLP Programme sponsor firms gave a light hearted but very relevant talk on how to get the most out of your mentoring experience. Representatives from the sponsor firms were strategically prepared to address the issues that the majority of this year’s LLP participants would be facing in the coming months. Puneet Tahim, Senior Graduate Recruitment Advisor from DLA Piper explored the competencies and application process for vacation schemes and training contracts. Samantha Hope from Shoosmiths then delivered a highly engaging and interactive talk on preparing for and enjoying the interview process; she engaged everyone in the room by having us conduct short role-play scenarios which were to teach us to introduce ourselves confidently and coherently.

After lunch, the feeling may have been that the pace of the day would slow down somewhat; however this was not the case. This part of the induction day considered another group of important skill sets that budding lawyers should always be aiming to improve. Sarmini Ghosh, Careers Coach and previous graduate recruiter for city firms Olswang and Clyde & Co, gave a very relevant talk on the need to develop your business skills, hone your networking abilities and the importance of maintaining a professional image on social media; highlighting that the average employer will look into your online presence i.e. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Chris Leuthier and Robert Dixon, Lawyers from Barclays then proceeded to lead an interactive and extremely useful session on the legal profession’s phrase of the decade, “commercial awareness”. This included a quiz that required some ability to navigate the somewhat daunting and salmon pink Financial Times pages.

The final part of the day was an opportunity to really consider the career paths studying law could lead you into, for example compliance roles in the banking industry or HR and recruitment for large corporate banks such as Barclays. We then had an opportunity to meet alumni from previous BLD Foundation LLP Programme intakes and I particularly enjoyed the insight they shared into their time on the LLP programmes and their career progression following their participation. This highlighted the clear correlation between having a place on the LLP and having access to the legal profession, targeted skills sessions and guidance from legal professionals who understand the industry and what will help you to succeed in one of the most competitive graduate industries.

Shortly before the end of the day as energy levels were undoubtedly lagging and the thoughts of journeys home had begun to surface; our penultimate speaker was positioned well on the agenda to brighten up the last part of the induction day. Solomon Wifa, Managing Partner at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, made his mark in the legal industry in the past three years in the UK by becoming one of the youngest-ever managing partners. First impressions of Solomon, having read various literature about him, were very different to the man that ultimately won over the entire room, with his natural ability to captivate an audience and share his inspirational journey through the law. This was definitely a talk that brought everyone in the room back on board and reminded you of why you wanted a legal career, the fact that the ever present ‘glass ceiling’ can be penetrated and that hard work will always pay off.

Our closing speaker for the day was from Bob Hoyt, Group General Counsel at Barclays; this was a great end to the day to be addressed by an individual who has worked in the White House. Bob thanked us for coming to Barclays and wished us the best of luck on our journey through the Legal Launch Pad Programme.

Ultimately the BLD Foundation LLP induction event was one of the most jam packed legal events I have ever attended. By the time the networking session commenced, I was overwhelmed with valuable knowledge and insight gained from representatives from partner firms and alumni. But it was the perfect opportunity to interact with colleagues on the LLP programme, representatives of sponsor and supporting firms, volunteer mentors, and the BLD Foundation team and ultimately a chance to start putting into action the skills we were encouraged to develop throughout the day.

Many thanks to all the BLD Foundation Team who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make days like the induction event such a success and I wish all my colleagues on this year’s LLP the best of luck. I urge all 2014 participants to be open-minded, attentive and enjoy the excellent opportunity the BLD Foundation has introduced into your careers path!

Alia Campbell, LLB 

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