Kent Law School graduate of 2022, Akshat Bhatia, following a successful vacation scheme, has been offered a role as a trainee for the international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills. (HSF). They are regarded as one of the world’s most elite and selective law firms, so huge congratulations to Akshat on this prestigious offer.
Read about Akshat’s journey as a student through his time at Kent Law School.
What attracted you to the LLB programme?
After landing in the UK from India, I visited several universities across the UK and Kent was the last on the list. My visit to Kent was spontaneous, and I wanted to chat with academics. However, my experience at other universities was that getting an appointment with professors could take weeks if not months. On my visit to Kent, I dropped by the Law School, was given a tour of the facilities, and introduced to several academics who were happy to chat with me – it was amazing to be able to talk directly to such knowledgeable intellectuals. The open, friendly approachability of the staff left a big impression and combined with the campus and its facilities made my mind up – Kent was the one for me.
How did you secure a placement with HSF?
I consulted with the Law School careers team in my first year quite a lot, which gave me the confidence and skills to apply to law firms directly, make connections, network, and find work placements.
What other support did you benefit from?
The staff support at Kent has been invaluable to me – from Open Day staff showing me around, the access to and critical support from academics, the Student Support team when I hit a rough patch during COVID to the peer support through clubs and societies, Kent really is an enjoyable social place.
Were you involved in any extra-curricular activity?
Shout out to the Kent Model United Nations Society, where I learnt a lot about socialising and networking! The British corporate culture has a huge social element to it, and these social skills were certainly transferrable to my pursuits at the law firm. At the society, my friendships grew, and I was able to develop the confidence to push myself out my comfort zone, try new things and develop a sense of what areas of law I wanted to get into.
What do you think of the facilities at Kent?
Having a 24-hour library was a blessing, I spent many an evening there researching, writing, or just getting into the zone to study. The sports facilities are great, and with the beautiful and big campus, I had space to stay physically as well as mentally active.
Tell us about your placement with Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) law firm
After applying to HSF, I was accepted for a three-week vacation scheme, basically a three-week-long interview. HSF are market leaders in litigation and is regarded as one of the most elite and selective international law firms in the world. There were around 30 of us who got onto the scheme.
We each were given the opportunity to work in two supervised ‘seats’ during our time there, undertaking research projects, and preparing research notes for solicitors or sometimes clients.
The scheme was not just to test your technical ability, but your growth mindset, collaboration skills and if you were a good fit with the company.
I’ll be working in four ‘seats’, over the two years after completing my Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) at HSF’s London headquarters, providing me time to explore different areas of the law within their wide-reaching portfolio, such as Tax, Litigation, Intellectual Property, etc. being mentored by the world’s top industry experts. My SQE fees will be covered, I’ll be provided with a maintenance grant, and plus have the opportunity to work in one of their 25 international offices.
What plans do you have for your future?
I’m looking forward to developing my technological knowledge and skills, something employers are very much looking for with the industry’s response to technological advancement. Having the Quantitative Research element to my degree has already put me ahead in my career.
Getting involved with Kent Law School is something I would really like to do, to get students involved with the Tech side of law and help shape legal technology in the future.
For now, I’m going to complete a part-time degree I’ve also been doing in Computer Science and enjoy the work I’ll be doing and relationships I’ll be building at HSF. I find myself looking forward to Mondays; it makes me happy to be doing work I love!
What advice do you have for prospective students?
Don’t feel pressured to carve out your path in law too early. Make sure you enjoy Law School and take time to explore all your academic interests. Try and relax about deciding on your career options until you’ve had the chance to develop yourself, your mindset, your attitude, and your personality.
And make sure you get a good work/study/life balance – play sports! It drives your motivation, builds your teamwork and social skills which are essential to future employers and clients, and of course helps keep you mentally healthy.
A lot of students are nervous about the degree of competition in a course like law – and while there is a lot of competition out there, too many students are swallowed into the wrong career by focusing too much on the competition and too little on what they really want to do. I advise students to not fall into that trap – relax, enjoy law school, work hard and everything will fall in place.