Last month, the City University Law Society and the Women in Law Society collaborated for ‘The Non-Traditional Route into Law with Aanisah Akbar’. Aanisah is a current in-house trainee solicitor who shared her take on her unusual route into the legal profession with us. She engaged in a Guided Q&A discussion chaired by Imogen Halcrow, President of the Law Society.
Despite being encouraged into the profession at a young age, Aanisah was encouraged by a partner at the law firm she completed work experience with to start with a non-law degree to give her varied skills. She noted that this was the right decision to make, as her university days studying History at Oxford Brookes gave her a plethora of transferable skills. She then completed her GDL at Sheffield and her LPC LLM at The University of Law, where she picked up more legal-specific skills such as drafting and negotiating.
Seeing that private practice was heavily focused on hitting KPIs (key performance indicators), filling timesheets and lacking a solid bond among workmates, Aanisah felt more inclined to pick an in-house career than private practice. She now works at Leumi UK, which she credits for giving her access to a broad spectrum of work, having dealt with many HR, marketing and facility management contracts. She also mentioned how she enjoys seeing directly the impact she and her team make. Regarding the new things she is learning, Aanisah is getting to grips with more banking & finance, but overall she remains without a specialism given the nature of her in-house training.
Speaking about the lessons she’s learned about the profession, Aanisah highlighted how her colleagues and other solicitors she’s interacted with have been friendly, which was a pleasant surprise (and a far cry from the culture that shows like Suits portrayed!). She praised the profession for its progression, particularly by way of the newly introduced solicitor apprenticeships and support firms are looking into to help more people access it. In terms of obstacles, she highlighted that whilst she had never felt excluded due to her gender, she had felt some hindrances due to her Indian ethnicity and being a first-generation student. However, there is nothing that cannot be overcome!
Aanisah advised our audience to take advantage of the networks we build, noting that being bold is key since all senior figures had been in our shoes once upon a time. She found that being open and transparent with her boss has helped her manage her workload too. Surviving in such a competitive environment is hard, but Aanisah set up her page, Confessions of a Corporate Girly, to empower women in the corporate field with advice and free resources. You can also subscribe to her email updates.
The Q&A was followed by a round of networking afterwards, and it was clear how inspired Aanisah left our audience feeling! We thank her for taking the time to speak to our Law Society and Women in Law Society.
Many thanks to LLB3 student Rochelle Inbakumar for this review; if you weren’t there you are probably kicking yourself now!
Rochelle is a final year law student at City, University of London. She loves writing and is the current Editor-in-Chief at the City Pro Bono Gazette. She is passionate about female representation in the legal sector and is President of the City Women in Law Society. She is also a Student Ambassador at the Association of British Tamil Lawyers. Earlier this year, Rochelle was a top 10 finalist for targetjobs’ Undergraduate of the Year 2023 in the Future Lawyer of the Year category. Outside of university, she is an avid pianist and leads her local Brownies (Girlguiding UK) unit.