Hans Sok Appadu and Teni Shahiean talk to students on the Legal Practice Course at Westminster University about Hans' experience on embarking on a career as a London immigration solicitor
This week I stepped back in time and returned to Westminster University with the CEO of OTS Solicitors, Teni Shahiean, to give a talk to the students attending the Legal Practice Course at the university.
Talking to the students took me back to the time I spent studying at the Westminster Law School to pass the Legal Practice Course. The course gave me the practical skills and knowledge that I needed to progress in a career in law.
If you want to practise as a solicitor in England and Wales, you need to complete the Legal Practice Course at a recognised university. The Legal Practice Course is the vocational stage of legal training that is intended to bridge the gap between academic studies and life working as a solicitor in a law firm.
Prior to my arrival at Westminster University I thought I knew all about the law, after all I had secured a law degree from the University of Wales and gone on to complete an LL.M., Degree of Masters of Laws in International Business and Commercial Law. However, the lecturers at the Legal Practice Course at the University of Westminster quickly taught me that a successful career in the law is not based upon academic qualifications and thesis writing skills but practical legal and client skills.
That was why I was delighted to be invited to return to the University of Westminster to talk to current students on the Legal Practice Course about life as an immigration solicitor at OTS Solicitors in central London and the opportunities and challenges of forging a career in the law.
I was able to tell the students currently enrolled on the Legal Practice Course at Westminster University that it was not until I first secured a job at OTS Solicitors that I fully appreciated the benefits of the practical legal research, interviewing and advising, writing, drafting and advocacy skills taught by the course lecturers.
During my time at Westminster University, I also took the opportunity to study for stage 1 accreditation on the Law Society immigration and Asylum law accreditation scheme. Whilst studying for my master’s degree I wrote a thesis titled 'The Human Rights of the Chagossians violated, the greatest injustice' and from that I developed a keen interest on public and Human Rights law. Specialist immigration accreditation to compliment the Legal Practice course really stood me in good stead when I then started to look for career opportunities in the law.
When I first enrolled on the Legal Practice Course at Westminster University, I did not anticipate that it would lead to my securing a paralegal role at OTS Solicitors, a Legal 500 recommended law firm, or that I would be able to further my career by training as a solicitor at OTS Solicitors. Fast forward to 2019, and I am now mentoring interns at OTS Solicitors, some of whom also studied at Westminster University.
As a former student of the Legal Practice Course, it was easy to talk enthusiastically to the current students about the career options available through studying on the vocational course. I certainly feel fortunate to have been able to convert my academic interest in Human Rights law into a fascinating and rewarding career at OTS Solicitors.
Any law student will anticipate a long career in the law. That is why, in my opinion , it is important to find an area of law that you are passionate about and to follow that up with accreditation on a specialist panel so your expertise is recognised and clients are reassured that you have specialist knowledge.
For me, immigration law combines the academic challenges of grappling with frequently changing immigration Rules and immigration and Asylum case law with meeting and talking to clients to find immigration solutions for them and, if necessary, to engage in the cut and thrust of advocacy for clients.
Talking to the students at Westminster University made me reflect on my time at the University. Would I make any different career choices? Certainly not. My advice to the students? Enjoy your time at Westminster, find an area of law that you are passionate about and that passion and energy will lead to a fulfilling career. That is certainly the message that I give to the interns, paralegals and trainees at OTS Solicitors, in between getting to grips with all the new immigration Rules relating to the UK’s exit from the EU. It is certainly an interesting time to be working as a London immigration solicitor.
About OTS Solicitors
OTS Solicitors are recommended for immigration law in the leading directory of UK lawyers, the Legal 500. OTS Solicitors have Law Society accredited solicitor status as trusted specialists in immigration law.