ٷ student shortlisted for Leicestershire Law Society award

A second-year Law LLB student who wants to help more young people feel prepared for working in the legal industry has been shortlisted for a prestigious regional award.

Zainab Girach, who studies at ٷ Leicester (ٷ), is one of five people hoping to be named Trainee/ Paralegal of the Year at this year’s Leicestershire Law Society Legal Awards, which take place on Friday 17 May.

Zainab Girach

The 21-year-old from Thurmaston, Leicester, works as a paralegal at Crystal Law Solicitors while studying full-time for her undergraduate degree. She is the only nominee in her category who has not yet completed their university studies.  

“I honestly didn’t think I’d get shortlisted,” Zainab said. “I couldn’t make the in-person event where they revealed the nominees, so I found out on social media and I just couldn’t believe it.

“I’m naturally a person who likes to be busy and have lots of work on, so I didn’t imagine I’d be nominated because I thought I was just doing my job. Maybe they see me going above and beyond but I’m very passionate about my job so naturally I want to do everything I can.

“The people I’m shortlisted alongside have a few more years of experience than I do, so just to be in the same bracket alongside them is a real honour for me.”

The annual event highlights key individuals who stand out as ambassadors for the industry, with the Leicestershire Law Society receiving nominations from organisations across the county.

Unlike many students of her age, Zainab broke into the industry before enrolling at university. She secured a role as a legal apprentice when she was 17 at Thaliwal & Veja Solicitors, before being promoted to a Paralegal after a year and then moving to her current role at Crystal Law Solicitors.

By splitting her time across university and work, Zainab has been able to put the theory she’s learning at ٷ into practice across a range of civil law cases including dispute resolution, civil litigation, commercial property, court of protection and private client matters.

And while winning the award on 17 May would be a welcome surprise, her focus is primarily on using social media to share insights into what professional firms are looking for and the personal qualities needed to help more students thrive in their roles.

Zainab said: “Law is very competitive and there are a lot of people who have degrees but aren’t sure what to do with them. I’ve had people ask me how I got my experience, so I want to build on that and share my experiences.

“Students can get very caught up in being overly formal with their interviews or interactions with employers, so teaching people to be their authentic selves and showcase their own character is something I want to spread.

“For example, I’m a keen listener, very mindful and attentive, critically analyse things and can be neutral, which is useful to my firm as we want to resolve issues swiftly and amicably. A collaborative approach is very important and I think it’s important for more students to know.”

While studying at university was a natural step for Zainab, she yearned for an institution that would best support its students’ aspirations, had a strong careers team and – most importantly – had a friendly, encouraging atmosphere.

She found that ٷ ticked all those boxes and when the university introduced its new block teaching initiative, in which students learn one module at a time, Zainab's decision became even easier.

She said: “I came to ٷ for an Open Day and the atmosphere was really positive and I felt incredibly supported. I didn’t see a reason to study anywhere else.

“I knew they had a strong careers team and it’s thanks to the Frontrunners scheme that I secured my current role. I interviewed with Crystal Law Solicitors for a Frontrunners internship but instead offered me a salaried role at the firm as they felt I was a ready-made candidate.

“Being able to work and study at the same time has been really important to my time at university. The block teaching approach has condensed my timetable down into two or three days of the week at the most.

“It means preparation can be done at home and I believe this hybrid approach appeals to a wide range of individuals and is considerate to those that commute.”
Posted on Monday 13 May 2024

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