The following piece has been originally published by Peter Quinn on London Connection, the online magazine of the University of London International Programmes. Here Maryam Mansur shares her journey of graduating from LLB (Hons) International Programme and working at the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
The University of London International Programmes LLB (Hons.) can be completed in three to eight years. Without this flexibility I do not think I could have completed my degree. Due to some hurdles in my way it took me a little longer than the minimum three years to finish my degree, resulting in a transcript – in my admittedly exaggerated opinion – which is roughly the length of a David Foster Wallace novel. But then again the study of law is not a sprint but a marathon.
I came to Pakistan College of Law in my quest to find a supporting institute where I would be able to complete my LLB, which I did, and found myself interning at a law firm upon graduating. At the firm I was offered a position as an Associate, which I accepted and soon afterwards was enrolled as an Advocate with the Punjab Bar Council.
“The research skills I acquired by compiling my portfolio for my Qualifying Law Degree in my final year stood me in good stead when I joined a law firm.”
I quickly discovered that John Grisham’s depiction of the life of a first year Associate as being stressful was, in fact, quite accurate. In the sweltering heat that is characteristic of the summers in Lahore, I frequently found myself going off to court wearing a black jacketed uniform of a lawyer in Pakistan. This black coat instantly identifies one as being part of the ‘legal fraternity’ and you are then greeted with brisk nods by other lawyers wearing their jackets with pride, despite the boiling heat.
I found the lower courts of Lahore to be crowded mostly by men of all ages, sizes and descriptions with only a handful of female Advocates scattered here and there. Young lawyers seem to be generally regarded with dismissiveness by Judges, senior lawyers and Court Readers alike. I observed that the impatience with which junior Advocates are treated usually goes up a few notches when the Advocate in question happens to be a woman. However, this environment is widely regarded and accepted as part of the training process by most lawyers. I recall watching a wizened old lawyer (with a well-known lung ailment) wheezing at an increasingly bemused Civil Judge that as the judge in question had ignored his son on account of his age he had no choice but to personally argue the matter himself.
In spite of all the challenges I have faced after completing my degree I would still highly recommend the University of London LLB (Hons). The research skills I acquired by compiling my portfolio for my Qualifying Law Degree in my final year stood me in good stead when I joined a law firm. And, despite not studying Pakistani law, I did not face any major difficulties due to further honing of my analytical and problem-solving skills courtesy of the subjects I had studied for my degree.
After a year of working for a law firm I applied for a judicial clerkship with the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Interestingly enough, my research essay prepared for my QLD Portfolio was one of the supporting documents that assisted in my application being accepted for the clerkship. I found myself working in that marble edifice which had recently been at the centre of a judicial movement that successfully managed to defy a military ruler. The experience of the past year at the Supreme Court of Pakistan has been invaluable. I continue to practise law and the resilience with which I completed my LLB (Hons.) has not subsided despite the tough environment I work and learn in.