I hope that this blog will to do justice in providing an insightful snapshot of the first training workshop within the First Headstart Programme. I state this because it was an invaluable experience where great tips and knowledge was being offered by various people. The day began with Matthew Dening, who had just become the London Managing Partner of Sidley Austin the day before and Debo Nwauzu, the Founder of the BLD Foundation, highlighting that the training workshop’s purpose was to encourage skill development that would be accompanied by key pieces of information that would set us apart from other candidates in the competitive legal job market.

The first few sessions were delivered by barristers and solicitors. They underlined very clearly the necessary skill sets necessary to progress in the legal field. The speakers did so by abandoning the traditional method of discussing the architectural route of becoming either a solicitor or barrister and decided to use their own path to illustrate the ‘do’s and do not’s’ whilst attempting to enter the legal profession but also answered our many questions. The sessions provided a holistic foundation for one to go and do independent research in regards to what path one would like to pursue.

After the break, the sessions that followed were the skills development mentioned with such passion by Matthew Dening and Debo Nwauzu at the beginning of the day. As a group, we engaged in a commercial awareness session delivered by Reed Smith that I believe was so enlightening considering the discussion did not move past the first case study despite the considerable time made available. The session exemplified and stressed the importance of being commercially aware because it extends into developing excellent client relation skills and inter alia. This was quickly followed by an insight into successful vacation scheme and training contract interviews delivered by Pinsent Masons, and it provided invaluable knowledge. We were told about the STARR technique for interviews because it provides structure for all your answers.

Upon returning from lunch, we were blessed with the differing perspectives of becoming and being a trainee solicitor. This was even more insightful because the trainees were all at different stages of their training and originating from different law firms: DLA Piper, DAC Beachcroft, White and Case and Shoosmiths. The following session on networking skills was listened to with attentive ears because we knew we would get a chance the skills to practice later in the day, which I was able to do, and therefore see our own development. Notably, the day ended with a panel discussion whose purpose was to persuade us to, when the time comes, apply for the Legal Launch Programme as if the training workshop had not already done so. Nonetheless, it was interesting and very insightful to hear the anecdotes of individuals who are currently on the programme reaping the goods.

In conclusion, the whole day helped us, to use the words of Hashi Mohamed, to “chart our own course” to success within the legal profession. I learnt an array of things that allowed to come to the conclusion that I want to be a solicitor working for an international commercial firm. I have also learnt through the various tips how to approach training contracts applications and interviews. I believe that the day aided me in answering several questions that will help me progress in my career. Therefore on that note, I would recommend that the same process be kept for future participants and to future participants I recommend you come prepared to soak in all the expertise and guidance you will be provided with in order to chart your own course.

Burphy Zumu

First Headstart Participant, Year 1 Law Student at BPP Law School London


The First Head Start Training Workshop hosted by Sidley Austin in London was extremely helpful. It had so many approaches that were not only informative but, also helped me stay attentive and keen. In the morning we were introduced to Debo Nwauzu, the Founder of the BLD Foundation, who was warm and friendly. She explained all things BLD was planning to do and has done to support under-represented youth. She then discussed a career in law in with us in a real but optimistic way.

Throughout the day, we listened to speakers from many different law firms. Their representatives ranged from trainees and qualified solicitors, to managing partners. We discussed a commercial awareness case study prepared by Reed Smith. I found this activity very useful as it helped us understand the type of teamwork, (as well as individual contribution) a law firm would require. We also had talks from two very prolific barristers. Hashi Mohammed was inspirational because of his youth and drive. He was very encouraging and emphasised how important it is to plan, focus and then manifest our dreams. The talk from S. Chelvan was a nice transition from Hashi’s as he is about 10 years older, and had developed his career over a longer period of time. It was great for me to listen to two very inspiring barristers, as I aspire to become a barrister myself.

I would definitely recommend this programme to anyone who has a genuine interest in law, and is confident that they can be successful with the right type of guide assistance. 

Christine Rahman 

First Headstart Participant, Year 1 Law Student at Keele University


The BLD Foundation First Headstart Programme was an extremely stimulating and instructive experience. Had it not been because of the programme, my ability to gain a first-hand knowledge about the legal profession would have still been severely limited. Frankly, the one day training workshop organized by the BLD Foundation has opened before me a network of opportunities which previously were not within reach. Most of all, the event has given me a valuable insight into different career paths, the things that I need to work more at and the techniques of practicing and acquiring commercial awareness. My recommendation for the future participants is to make most of the event, research the firms beforehand, and ask a lot of questions.

Adam Okoniewski

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