…Much Ado About This Legal Business

Nin Hao!!

I am especially thankful to my Chinese readers – with the last post. All 47 of you. Many many thanks!

Happy Birthday to my baee! I really don’t have alot of friends, but Chi is one. Been loving you since Westminster boooo!😙😙😙✌

I hope you all had a great weekend. Apologies for being out of sync. The last two weeks has been hectic. I promise it is not another excuse.

Anyhow – hope you are all well. I have some news which I will share with you, as soon as it is all “cemented.” Give me another couple of posts!

Today’s interview is with Mavi Mudiaga-Erhueh. Mavi is a member of the Nigerian Bar and she has just recently completed the Legal Practice Course (LPC) with a distinction!

She is currently a Trainee Solicitor with Clifford Chance, (CC). For those who don’t know, CC is one of the largest magic circle firm in the UK. If you don’t know, ask somebody boo boo. It is highly respected and one of the most difficult law firms to get into. I say difficult but what I really mean to say is that it has so much prestige, they hire the very very best.

I hope you guys enjoy! 🙂

  1. What is your full name and where are you from originally?

Omavuaye Mudiaga-Erhueh (Mavi for short). I’m from Delta State in Nigeria.

  1. What is your educational background?

I have a University Foundation Certificate from Aspect College Bournemouth, an undergraduate degree in Law (LLB) from the University of Buckingham and a Master’s degree in Law (LLM) from the London School of Economics (LSE). I was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2012 and recently (July 2015) finished the Legal Practice Course (LPC) conducted by BPP University.

I have also taken certificate courses in International Commercial Law and International Dispute Resolution as well as International Human Rights Law.

  1. What is your job title?

Trainee Solicitor.

  1. Can you give us a brief overview of what you do?

I am in my first seat with the Litigation and Dispute Resolution (L&DR) practice area of Clifford Chance, London. Generally, I assist with document review, drafting, court attendance, research (both legal and non-legal), taking notes and general assistance with document preparation (e.g. bundle preparation, compiling categories of documents, etc).

  1. Why did you choose to go into this area?

I chose L&DR as my 1st seat of 4 seats because I am interested in and passionate about dispute resolution, particularly advocacy. So I requested my 1st seat to be in L&DR because I have 2 years experience as a Nigerian litigator and I felt it would be wise to start my training contract experience within a familiar practice area.

  1. If you are working in a specialised field, how were you able to decide that this was the path for you?

NA

  1. What is a typical day like for you at work?

Lots of reading, reviewing and writing. Occasionally, research tasks are thrown at me.

  1. What do you find challenging about your job? How are you able to overcome this?
    Time management is the most challenging aspect for me because there are so many things to be done within a short period of time- especially when working with close deadlines. Also, one has to manage time efficiently to avoid billing clients for huge chunks of time spent doing a particular task when it could have been done within a much shorter time.

To overcome this, I make sure I understand my instructions before embarking on executing my tasks; I apportion what I consider reasonable time to be spent on each task (to avoid wasting time); once I have more than one task assigned to me, I make a priority list and stick to it; if I am given too much work than I have capacity for, I make it known that I am swamped and if I am stuck on a task with time running out, I voice my concerns to my supervisor immediately I notice the time, instead of waiting till the deadline and not being able to deliver.

  1. While at university, do you feel that you received adequate support? If not, how did you overcome this? (Please add if you feel there are specific services that students should make use of. For example, personal tutor, student support services etc..)

During my undergrad, there was probably support, but I never exploited those support services because I felt I could do it on my own. However, looking back, I think I should have consulted more with my personal tutor to discuss my course/module choices instead of relying on other students’ “experiences” of the “difficulty” of some modules e.g. company law.

During my LLM, I made use of LSE’s career hub which is a database that provided information about job vacancies within and outside LSE (which is how I got my present job). Also, the careers service was very helpful in providing CV drafting/proofreading support, mock interviews and information about career prospects e.g. the importance of volunteer work and how it can open doors in the future.

During my LPC, I know a few of my colleagues made good use of the opportunity to seek help from our course director when they felt stuck or overwhelmed with the workload and they got useful advice on planning and workload management.

 Before you eventually got onto this career path, were you able to gather work experience?

Yes; I did internships, but the work experience was not all I hoped it would be, if I’m honest. However, I learnt basic skills which I have used throughout my career till date, such as effective research skills, prioritisation, shorthand for note-taking, etc.

Career Progression:

  1. When you chose your career path, what were your expectations?

I thought I would always be in court arguing my client’s case, using all the dramatic advocacy skills I had learnt/observed from watching TV and being a force to be reckoned with- when people hear my name, they tremble and decide not to represent their client against me.

  1. How did your expectations match up to what your job now?

In NO way! Most of the times I appeared in court was with a senior, so I didn’t even get the chance to say my own name (the senior would mention my name, I would rise and bow to the court, then sit down like a puppy and take diligent notes). Also, I would do the bulk of research to be used for the legal arguments, I would probably also do the first round of drafting, but my name would appear last on the court process (because I was the most junior). Finally, because I never attended the final hearing of any case, my name never got to be printed in the law report for that case. The most disappointing aspect was the fact that all the theatrics I had seen on TV about court hearings are just fiction- in real life, due to the “frontloading” requirements, there is no room for theatrics and surprise tactics in civil courts.

The above, notwithstanding, I have had interesting experiences from expectations I did not have. These made me realise that it is advisable to start a career/academic path with an open mind because then, there would be little room for disappointment. For example, I never thought I would like anything to do with company law because of the myths I heard about its difficulty during my LLB studies. However, at the Nigerian Law School, it was a compulsory module- I approached it with an open mind and it became my favourite module. Further, I have embarked on a career path that is corporate/commercial law- inclined, as opposed to the pure advocacy path I imagined for myself.

  1. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

Yes, I wish I had taken advantage of the diverse mix of people during my studies, in order to establish a truly global network of friends and colleagues; this is very handy in my line of work. I also wish I had taken more advantage of available internship opportunities.

  1. What is the best way, if there is one, to prepare for your chosen career path?

Try to discover people in that field and make the effort to contact them to ask questions. People are more receptive and willing to help than one would naturally think. After all, there is no harm in politely asking questions- the worst that would happen is that you would not get a response; but this is better than not trying at all.

It is also very important to be commercially aware. I am on a career path that is law and business oriented. Clients do not really care about what the law says- all they want to know is if their transaction can proceed, if they would be able to make money, how to stay out of trouble and how to get out of trouble, if they are already in trouble. So, most of the decisions and advice you give have to be commercially focused and this means you have to understand your client’s business, needs and objectives. To achieve this, one needs to form the habit of following FT, Bloomberg, Reuters, The Economist, etc.

  1. Using a film title, describe your job.

Transformers.

  1. Is there anything you wish you had known earlier that would have helped shaped your career choice? If so, what is it?

I wish I had known the importance of networking events and how to go about them. This is because in my field, you MUST network, whether you like it or not. Had I known, I think I would have stuck to the pure litigation path because on that path, you do not necessarily have to meet people; people come to look for you instead.

Right now, I find networking daunting and unnatural, but am working towards “sucking it up” and making the necessary effort because it is extremely important to survive both within and outside one’s immediate work environment.

  1. What advice do you have for someone who wants to get on this career path?

Do your research, ask questions, think carefully about it and be prepared to be hardworking and also you must learn to work outside your comfort zone and make sacrifices. Also, if you are religious, commit it to your God.

Personal/Striking a balance

  1. How do you balance your work and family life?

I try to get as much work done as possible before going home, so that I do not take work home and have (possibly) less to do the following day. I also make a conscious effort to give myself a break as often as possible and I have a personal policy of never having to do anything work-related on Sundays.

  1. What do you like to do in your spare time?

SLEEP! If I’m tired of sleeping, I watch TV series.

  1. Do you volunteer anywhere?

Not at the moment.

  1. What was your last holiday destination?

Houston.

  1. What would be (or is…) your favourite holiday destination?

Anywhere with a clean beach, beverage with umbrellas and NO SNOW.

  1. What is your favourite type of car?

Mercedes convertible

  1. What is your style? (Smart Casual, Designer…)

Pyjamas

  1. What is your favourite designer or high street brand?

Anything I find nice and affordable at anytime (honestly).

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So there you have it folks. I am especially pleased with this interview as there is this misconception that if you study abroad, especially a developing country, it is somehow harder to be appealing to the bigger firms. As you can see, this is absolutely not the case!!

Wishing Mavi all the very best in her new job and her Mercedes Convertible LOL

Peace!

🙂

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