Completing a law degree and the Legal Practice Course (LPC) enabled Shan to embark upon a successful paralegal career
How did you secure your current paralegal role?
I obtained a first class law degree from Brunel University and then completed the LPC, gaining a commendation at BPP Law School. Since graduating, I've gained varied experience from working at different sized law firms and in-house legal teams, both inside and outside of London. One of the partners at a law firm in which I was working, recommended me for this in-house client role, working as a paralegal for Expeditors. Working in a logistics industry seemed interesting enough to me, so I applied and several interviews later, I was hired.
What's a typical working day like?
My day involves me reviewing some sort of customer agreement; such as customer bid documents (including terms and conditions, confidentiality agreement, compliance questionnaire and certification) and documents for freight forwarding services. I also 'redline' or check contracts are acceptable, according to our company's standard terms.
I may speak on the phone, or face to face, with our internal clients to explain our requested changes, or to find out more about the operational terms and whether we can agree to them.
What do you enjoy most about your paralegal job?
I enjoy working with our internal clients and explaining the reasons behind our company's contract positions. I am constantly learning more about the company's operations, the commercial decisions undertaken by our stakeholders and our strategy for continued growth in the markets.
What are the challenges in your role?
Working in an in-house legal department is challenging in many respects. The biggest challenge is trying to strike a balance between protecting the company’s interests, while also recognising the commercial pressure of winning the business. Additionally, your clients are sitting only a few feet away, so sometimes what starts off as a quick question, can lead to a deeper discussion.
In what way is your degree relevant?
My law degree and LPC were both relevant, as they gave me the legal background, understanding and knowledge, as well as practical skills such as researching, drafting, analysing, negotiating, solving complex problems and being able to translate that in a customer friendly way.
How has your role developed and what are your ambitions?
My role has developed in the sense that I am doing more trainee/newly qualified solicitor type work such as researching, drafting and negotiating. I am hoping this experience will stand me in good stead to becoming a fully qualified solicitor.
What advice can you give to others seeking a paralegal job?
Try as many different practice areas of law as you can, for example, I went from family law, wills and probate, and property, to litigation and dispute resolution, to insurance and now logistics. Being open minded allows you to figure out what kind of law you really enjoy and thrive in.
I would also recommend getting some law firm/private practice experience, as this will enable you to develop the foundation and skills you need. You can then make an informed decision about your future career path (whether you want to move to working in-house or continue working in private practice). It’s a competitive arena but perseverance pays off.