In collaboration with the Muslim Lawyers Hub.
We partnered with the Muslim Lawyers Hub to allow legal students and professionals the opportunity to share their experiences with diversity.
At Simply Law, we aim to raise further awareness around diverse experiences within the legal industry.
In this article, we interview Marium Madha a first-year LLB Student who kindly shared her experiences, challenges she has faced, and tips for aspiring law students.
Why did you pursue a career in the legal industry?
Transitioning from sixth form into university, I realised that I was looking for a career that was rather diverse and dynamic. Growing up in a setting that allowed me to practice it more and more, such as studying English Lit during my A-levels, leading debates and discussions in my Law society, or even at the Youth Parliament that I was a member of, I consequently realised that I had a natural lean towards advocacy.
Another thing that led me to study Law and want to pursue it as a career, was its ability to reach beyond corporations. Not only are you able to help companies and businesses, whether they be large or small, but you’re also able to deliver a social impact through your work in pro-bono, for example.
For me, this is incredibly significant because I do believe that for lawyers, it is essentially a professional responsibility to get involved in work that extends beyond the corporate sphere. Looking at my background specifically, I’m the first in my family to pursue Law as a career, however growing up, I’ve always been reminded about the significance of helping others.
Being in the legal industry is a position of privilege and so I want to be able to also use the Law as a way to also exercise my duty to society. Hence, I think a career in the legal industry would have quite a good intersection where I would be able to deliver an impact, whilst also being able to have a job that would consistently challenge and urge me to improve and grow in this ever-changing field.
What path have you taken to study law?
I took the traditional path of studying Law, so I did my A-levels and sat my exams in 2021, and consequently enrolled into University to study for an undergraduate degree for 3 years.
What challenges have you encountered?
Choosing Law for me hasn’t been an easy task. As mentioned before, being the first to pursue Law meant that there was (naturally) a lot of hesitancy and doubts that were constantly raised. Having been told that it’d be difficult to get a job, or that there were ‘limited prospects’ available with the degree, especially as a 17-year-old making this decision, was of course very intimidating and it did lead me to doubt myself immensely.
However, as cliché as it is, it only made me want to pursue a career in the legal industry even more! It wanted me to take the ‘risk’ and show that I am more than capable to be successful in this field and to not let statistics or the stigmas that surround a Muslim woman being in law, try to hinder me in wanting to be able to get the job of my dreams.
“….it is no new knowledge that being in the legal industry is incredibly competitive and can be difficult, however, it is certainly not impossible, especially when you’re equipped with the right mindset, drive, passion and are willing to put in the hard work.”
What 3 tips would you give to someone from a diverse background who wants to study law?
- Take the risk. It may feel like studying in Law is very much out of your reach because there are so many preconceived notions that we hear and are exposed to in the media, especially regarding there to be a certain ‘type’ or ‘category’ of people that study Law, but it is completely false. As a first-year, I’ve met so many people that come from a range of diverse backgrounds and no two individuals have the same story. So don’t be scared to take the leap when choosing to study Law. If anything, your diverse background should always act as a point of strength wherever you go.
- Do your research. Make sure you have an outline, even if it’s very rough, of where you want to go with your law degree. Of course, that is not to say that you’re meant to have everything planned out from start to finish, but I would say that it is helpful that you are at least aware of where your degree can take you, what options and paths are available to you and if you’re interested in perhaps pursuing any of them, and if so, what would be the next steps. Plans always change and when you get to law school, you might choose a completely different path, and that’s okay, but I would advise that you should at least be aware of a) what your law degree will entail and b) where it might take you and if you’re interested in any of those paths that are suggested.
- Try not to be psyched out by other Law students. I’m only in my first year but sometimes it can feel like your peers are way, way ahead of you in their work, and it can sometimes make you anxious. So honestly, just remind yourself that as long as you’re not slacking behind on your work and you’re getting things done on time, such as your reading, your prep work, watching your lectures, etc, you are at the right pace and are going at the tempo you’re meant to be at, so don’t worry about other people and their progress.
Why is diversity important in the legal sector?
Diversity is important in the legal sector because growing up, I never used to associate people of colour with the legal profession, and therefore for a long time, I believed that it wasn’t accessible to me, which of course, is completely false.
Having diversity in the legal sectors allows every individual to grow by being exposed to different cultures, beliefs, and ideas but more importantly, I think it’s especially important for the younger generation.
It allows them to remain ambitious as they grow up and be able to have the confidence to pursue careers in the legal profession when they’re able to view people who are more representative of their background. More importantly, it will encourage them to not be afraid in using their culture and their roots as one of strength.
What are your goals and plans for the future?
My plans for the future consist of me wanting to become a commercial solicitor and to work for my dream law firm in London. I also wish to help break stereotypes that surround Muslim women pursuing law. I want to be able to encourage the next generation in being comfortable enough to pursue their dreams, regardless of their background.
What are your hopes for the future of the legal industry?
I hope the legal industry becomes a lot more transparent with the reality of getting into law and how a career in law looks like. I think a lot of the audience who aspire to go into the legal field would benefit from not only seeing the highs and the achievements of those who, for example, can secure a TC, but then are also able to see the rejections that come along the way, and even the reality of the hard work aspiring solicitors or barristers have to put in to succeed.
A lot of the time, a career in law is incredibly glamorized, especially in the media, and if I reflect now, I do think being shown ‘both sides of the coin’ when making a life decision at the time, would have been very useful. Most of the time, many people in the legal industry only show their successes, but fail to focus on the rejections that helps give them perspective, or even allows them to become more resilient.
It is those moments in their careers which I think is so incredibly important and significant for the younger audience to see; inevitably it’ll allow them to get a true picture and a full rounded experience of what they’re actually signing up for.
Check out the Muslim Lawyers Hub on Instagram