Karanveer graduated from Durham University with a degree in Philosophy. Having just completed the Graduate Diploma in Law, he is due to start the Legal Practice Course in January. After that, he will embark on his Training Contract with Linklaters LLP.
As a non-law student, what drew you to the legal sector and commercial law specifically?
There are quite a few things which drew me to the legal sector. I really enjoyed learning about law during my experience at a local law firm. I also enjoyed the type of work done, and in general the skills that lawyers develop and employ. It was challenging and intellectually stimulating - and that was very important for me.
Commercial law was a natural choice for me as I was also interested in business and it is a nice link between the two. It is also a bonus that you occasionally get the chance to work on huge Financial Times frontpage deals which is a great conversation starter!
How do you feel your Philosophy degree has helped you?
It has been immensely helpful in developing my critical thinking and analytical ability. As a Philosophy student, you are taught very early on to break down complex philosophical ideas into simple premises - and this ability to explain complex things in a simple way is very important for lawyers too.
I would recommend all non-law students think about the skills their degree has helped them develop, and in applications and interviews consider how that might apply to a legal career.
Which extracurricular activities did you get involved in at university, and how do you think these supported not only your law applications, but your overall professional development as well?
I played a lot of frisbee and was part of a few societies at university. I also worked part-time at my university’s Alumni Centre and as a toastie bar worker. You develop a lot of soft skills doing extracurricular activities which are hard to put into words but definitely come across clearly in an interview or in person. Being able to hold a conversation with confidence, for instance, is something I developed by calling up alumni and asking them to donate to the University. It’s a good idea to take up activities that are outside your comfort zone as that is usually where you find yourself developing the most.
What drew you to Linklaters LLP and what are you most excited about for your Training Contract?
I narrowed my focus to commercial firms based in the United Kingdom and Linklaters, being a Magic Circle firm, ticked every box for me. I also really liked what Linklaters were doing in legal tech — their AI platform, nakhoda, is a unique and innovative approach to integrating technology.
I am excited to just start working. I really enjoyed my vacation schemes and my legal work experience so I’m looking forward to saying goodbye to studying and to starting my legal career.
How did you find your vacation schemes?
They were very fun! There are a lot of socials to get involved in where you can chat with current employees — this is a fantastic opportunity to network and learn more about the firm. It’s also the best chance to get a feel for what a trainee does. Each firm has a different structure for the vacation scheme but generally you will be assigned a supervisor who will give you work to do and you may also be given work by various other people at the firm.
You are unlikely to get groundbreaking work to do as a vacation scheme student but I used it as an opportunity to ask my supervisor loads of questions and it is where I learned the most. For example, one of my supervisors sat down with me for two hours at the end of the day and went through, in detail, a Mergers and Acquisition deal that he recently worked on. Vacation schemes are an incredible opportunity. Even if you don’t get a training contract at the end of it, use it to learn about commercial law and you can apply that to your future interviews!
What can students do to make the most of any firm events they attend like law firms, webinars etc.?
Ask questions that you cannot Google or find on their website. It’s easy to ask generic questions that you can find online and they are usually good questions, but it’s important to recognise that these events are a unique opportunity to get insider information about the firm that you cannot find online! Research firms before you attend events and have a couple of specific questions which you can use in your applications. If you can show that you know more about the firm than the average candidate, that will help you stand out. So ask about trainee mentorship programs, specific questions on legal tech, department questions, etc.
What resources would you suggest for students looking to develop their commercial awareness or simply trying to understand whether law is for them?
Investopedia and YouTube were very helpful for me in developing my commercial awareness. Investopedia is great for getting to grips with jargon terms used in commercial settings and YouTube is helpful (at times) in expanding your knowledge, and it always helps to have someone explain it instead of you reading it. Aside from that, news sources like FT, The Economist, Finimize, and BBC are all great too. I also read a couple of books — one which comes to mind is “Know the City” by Christopher Stoakes which teaches you the basics of the commercial world.