The following piece has been originally published by Peter Quinn on London Connection, the online magazine of the University of London International Programmes. Here Nisar Ahmed Sidhu shares his journey on coming from a village in rural Punjab and to becoming an Associate at one of Pakistan’s top Commercial law firms.
I am essentially from a rural background in Pakistan’s province of Punjab, from a village called Nankana Sahib, where I began my earlier education. After gaining an FSc (Intermediate Pre-Engineering), I began searching for a suitable advanced professional course in local universities when I came across information about the LLB (Hons) programme of the University of London being taught in Pakistan College of Law. I visited the College and was informed that my local qualifications were not sufficient to enrol onto the LLB directly. However, access to the degree could be provided through the Diploma in Law.
After being tested, my College administration picked up on the point that I wrote well and gave me admission to study for the Diploma in Law as an international student of the University of London. Upon obtaining admission I met with many new adventures, such as living in the big city of Lahore during my studies away from my family. Life in the area of Punjab where I came from was also too remote to acquaint me with basic technology, which all my classmates took for granted. I actually created my first ever email address upon obtaining admission onto the Diploma in Law so that I could correspond with the University directly. Before studying for the Diploma in Law, my earlier education had also not equipped me with such skills as analytical reasoning and research techniques.
So, considering my background, I faced many difficulties at the start of the course, including not understanding lectures quickly in class as these were mostly conducted in English. On top of it all I always felt shy in discussing these things with my classmates and teachers. However, the College administration picked up on my worry and supported me throughout the first year. The College guided me in pursuing the Diploma in Law in two stages, which helped me to divide my burden and get used to the demands of a system of learning I was not previously accustomed to. I was also encouraged to take language classes to improve my English and advised to work on assignments, which I submitted more of than any other student in my class. While working on assignments, I was guided to use the material made available online by the University of London.
I was able to acquire the Diploma in Law and then went on to study for the LLB (Hons). I improved in regards to the use of information technology and research skills, to the extent that I completed research essays and obtained a QLD which markedly improved my English oral communication skills. I came to discover that the LLB and the University exam system develops individual analysis in order for a student to obtain respectable grades, rather than the rote learning which was being taught to me in my earlier education.
My prior quality of education did not really make me a suitable candidate for studying the LLB, let alone from the University of London. No one in my family (nor I) originally thought that I would succeed, but through sheer hard work and perseverance I overcame many hurdles and came through as a graduate of the University of London. I was constantly encouraged by my teaching institution and I also had the flexibility to study at my pace.
I came from a village in rural Punjab and through a visit to Pakistan College of Law I came to know that I could study law from one of the best universities in the world whilst being in Pakistan. The University of London International Programmes provided me with access to the LLB (Hons) through the Diploma in Law, which then opened up a whole new way for me into the legal profession. After graduating from the University of London I began my legal practice with Cornelius, Lane & Mufti (Advocates & Solicitors), one of the top Commercial law firms in Pakistan where I am currently an Associate. I look forward to further developing my professional skills on the foundation that was laid whilst completing the LLB (Hons) of the University of London International Programmes.