Towards the end of my training contract, I was nervous, excited, happy and relieved that I would soon qualify as a Solicitor. After years of ‘hard work’, it would happen!
I was extremely fortunate that I was offered an NQ role at my training firm which allowed me to comfortably ponder the next stages of my career. Did I really want to qualify into industrial disease? Do I see myself doing this for the rest of my legal career? While it was a radical move, I knew I had to do it when I was young and single and without any commitments.
As any law student will know that training contracts are like gold dust. I was grateful to have acquired a training contract and accepted the first offer I received. In retrospect, I did not appreciate the importance of picking a firm that allows you to experience a variety of practice areas. I was in a rush to qualify and I simply thought I did not have the luxury of shopping around for training contracts – I was not the most attractive candidate. I had heard of friends with 1st class degrees struggling to obtain training contracts. I also did not possess sufficient confidence or self belief. I knew this training contract would give me the confidence to believe in my ability and forge a path to the next step. I am circumspect by nature and changing specialism was something that was not a part of my long term plan. I also thoroughly enjoyed my training contract and made some really good friends. However, by the time I was nearing qualification, I was itching for more in my professional life. I knew I had acquired the core skills and attributes of a lawyer during my training contract which could be transferrable into another specialism. The training I had received put me in good stead and I was ready to venture out of my comfort zone. I knew changing specialisms was not impossible but not very easy either.
Property law was a natural choice for me as I enjoyed this module in the Legal Practice Course. It was methodical, logical and practical. In my quest to find an NQ role in property law, I wrote to hundreds and hundreds of firms ranging from high street, boutique to larger firms but to no avail – I was told that they wanted somebody with prior experience. After many rejections, I managed to persuade a partner in a boutique firm in central London to retrain me in property law. I was determined to maximise this opportunity. The next two years of my life was extremely challenging and involved hard work, patience, courage, flexibility and perseverance. I had to learn on the job which meant studying in the evenings and at weekends. It was a steep learning curve. There were periods of setbacks and I learned that the best way to deal with these situations is to keep trying and move forward. There is no substitute for hard work. I was fortunate to have trained under two excellent partners who believed in me and my capabilities, taught me everything I know about property law which have helped shaped me into the property lawyer I am today. I am also fortunate to be surrounded by some remarkable peers and role models who have been mentors to me along the way. I have learned through my challenging times that perseverance when the goal seems far away is the most important thing that one can do in order to finally realising it.
Jinita Pandhak is a Commercial Property Solicitor based in the UK. Connect with her on LinkedIn.