Nabeel Mirza is a real estate paralegal at international law firm Addleshaw Goddard, he kindly shared his path to a legal career, what he gets up to on an average day and key advice for aspiring legal professionals.
Path to a legal career
From an early age, I was steered towards pursuing a career that would positively impact the lives of others - although the form that would take was never set, from my earliest conversations at the age of 5 of wanting to ’fix the roads so people didn’t pop their tyres’ to aspirations of wanting to be a doctor at the age of 13.
Whilst I am extremely lucky and had a fortunate upbringing, I can remember experiences of seeing the difficulties and challenges faced by those in my wider community which reinforced what I wanted my future career to look like.
There would often be cultural and financial barriers that meant people were unable to access services or support - leading to an imbalance of power often between those who were supposed to help and those needing the help and whilst it sounds awfully cliche, I believe it’s these experiences that developed a passion to help "the underdog" in any capacity that I could.
I chose A-level subjects which set me up for a potential future career in medicine or veterinary sciences. However, as I progressed through my studies I realised that combined with being squeamish around blood (which wasn’t ideal!) It wasn’t what I was truly interested in and that natural traits of strong initiative, creative problem solving and learnt strengths in commercial awareness, would be transferable to a career in law.
My A-levels were below average, and so I was extremely lucky when I managed to get a spot through clearing at Keele University to start my Law with Business (LLB) degree in September 2015.
I had fantastic opportunities during my degree to experience the law further by participating in several work placements and by taking part in mooting and client interviewing. By having these practical experiences, I was able to build upon my technical skill set and understand what it was truly like to work in the legal sector.
Despite the setback of my A-Levels, in July 2019 I received a First Class Honours in my LLB and was fortunate to secure a position as a Paralegal at Addleshaw Goddard in January 2020. The relief to feel like I was finally on the path to securing a career I truly loved was immeasurable.
Setbacks in education or receiving rejection letters when applying for work experience can be extremely disheartening. My advice would be to never give up if you really want something, stay in your lane, keep trying and you will get there!
What it’s like to work at Addleshaw Goddard
Having now graduated and worked for two years in the profession, I have had first-hand experience of a client-facing industry which has allowed me to engage with people of varied cultures and backgrounds, which presents an exciting challenge every day.
I find that law lets you combine thinking on your feet with connecting with people from several fields in a way that other industries do not, satisfying my desire to help others whilst challenging my critical thinking and technical ability.
I have found that the culture of most law firms really is second to none, you get the opportunity to work day to day with creative like-minded individuals who are all coming together to achieve the same goals. You will find that often there is a real lack of hierarchy, and even senior Partners will give you the time to answer questions on a matter or to have a quick chat over a coffee!
Day in the life of a real estate paralegal
8:30am - I finish up my exercise and breakfast and leave the house or get set up at my home desk, ready to start my working day.
9:15am - My team have a catch-up call each morning at this time where we all discuss the tasks we have for the day, any wider firm news, projects and whether we have capacity to see if there is anything we can help eachother out with. I also check my emails and scribble out a task list for the day. I find that physically writing out my day is a far more effective way of organising myself rather than everything being on my screen.
10:35am - I prioritise my tasks for the day and get stuck in. I am currently embedded within our Real Estate division where I run several of my own matters liaising with the client from start to finish to draft licences, leases and other deeds. I also help Senior Associates, Legal Directors and Partners within the division on larger projects by carrying out post-completion work, setting up data sites and billing.
1:00pm - I have my lunch and catch up with colleagues, or take time away from my desk to go outside or have a look at social media. It’s so important to take regular breaks when working, I always find a walk in the fresh air, a chat or scrolling on TikTok can help clear your head and get you ready for the afternoon!
2:00 pm - I usually re-evaluate my tasks for the afternoon at this time and cross off anything that has been completed. For anyone like me, you’ll know how amazing it feels to physically cross off bits on your to-do list!
5:30pm - 6.30pm - Although you do have the occasional late night, most days I will be tidying up my desk between 5.30 and 6.30pm, getting ready for the next day. I will close down my timers, and write down anything that I need to focus on tomorrow morning. If I am in the office, I will ensure any files that I have used are put away securely, say goodbye to my colleagues and wind down for the evening.
3 Tips for aspiring legal professionals:
When it comes to studying, spatial repetition and active recall were an absolute saviour during my degree, there are plenty of videos on YouTube about these two revision techniques and they really are the way forward.
I would say when it comes to a career in law, take the time to research the various paths and routes you can take to get there. I feel like in education you are pushed towards the traditional route, but honestly, there are so many routes out there that may be better suited to you. It can be hard sometimes not to compare yourself to others, but stay true to yourself, take your own path and you will be there before you know it!
Never turn down an opportunity, no matter how small you are always guaranteed to learn something from it. Opportunities for work experience are competitive and can be hard to come by, it's really important to attend network events and open days and follow up with anyone you meet.
Most people will be more than happy to offer you some advice, or go a step further by looking at your CV, giving you application advice or potentially offering you an opportunity at work experience - you never know who you will meet!
Photo by Robert Stump on Unsplash