My journey from the desert sands to the streets of Lahore and back

LLB graduate Fatima Qasim Dilawri on how the degree has helped her secure a job in a leading Intellectual Property Law firm in the UAE
LLB graduate Fatima Qasim Dilawri
Fatima Qasim Dilawri receiving her LLB at the Pakistan College of Law Graduation Ceremony
During my job hunt in the UAE, I contacted some career counselors and HR managers who acknowledged the fact that having a degree from the University of London greatly increased my employability

Desert air is renowned for the unrivalled comfort it offers. Spending 17 years since birth and enjoying the luxuries and comfort of Dubai life had raised unnecessary doubts about my initial decision to leave Dubai and pursue a law degree in a place which I seldom visited: Lahore, Pakistan. The first few months – away from home, family and friends – were undoubtedly the most difficult months I had spent in Pakistan. I recall paying an exorbitant amount of Rs. 450 to a cabbie for the same route I later learnt to pay Rs. 60 for!

From learning the Punjabi terminology of ‘left’ and ‘right’ to understanding the law pre-R v R (1991) and getting used to alien concepts of ‘load shedding’, I had experienced more shades of life in Lahore than I had in the UAE. Little was I to know that I will be thanking such experiences for shaping my personality the way it did. I very strongly believe that personal growth is equally important as professional growth, especially when one intends to explain Vandervell and Grey v IRC to students at the tender age of 20 and advising corporate giants on their trademark policies within three years of professional experience.

"I have no qualms admitting that successfully completing the degree was possible largely because of the Professors at Pakistan College of Law."

LLB graduate Fatima Qasim DilawriI had taken Biology and Chemistry A levels. Joining a Law College with a science background made understanding legal concepts a herculean task in the first few months, and there was a stage when I thought of reconsidering my decision of pursuing a law degree. I have no qualms admitting that successfully completing the degree was possible largely because of the Professors at Pakistan College of Law, who not only focused on conceptual knowledge but also on written technique and improving legal drafting skills.

Apart from this, my Professors had the confidence in me, which kept me going through difficult times. A major confidence booster was my first year results. I was beside myself when I obtained a distinction in Criminal Law, and was just two marks short of obtaining the same in Public Law and Contract Law. From that day onwards I bid a final adieu to all my doubts. From gaining mooting success by winning the LUMS National Moot Court Competition for two consecutive years, alongside winning the coveted title of PCL Master Mind, my journey from the desert sands to the streets of Lahore and back to the desert has been wonderful.

The first step which I took in my professional career was fortunately at the same place I truly call my second home. There could have been no better place to start my career and having my Professors as my colleagues was ideal. The day I was awarded the teaching excellence shield in recognition of my contribution as a law tutor in my College is forever cherished. Apart from the wonderful experience of teaching Law of Trusts, I had the fortune of working as a trainee lawyer in Mujtaba Jamal and Law Associates, a Corporate Law Firm in Lahore. Since my first year as a student, I had heard a lot about the managing partner of the law firm, Mr Mujtaba Jamal, and after being associated with him and learning professionalism from him I always recommend fresh law graduates to either intern or work as a full-time Associate in MJLA.

All these personal experiences in Pakistan, coupled with the experience of simultaneously working as a Law Tutor and Trainee Lawyer, greatly enhanced my time management and other requisite key skills which helped me in securing a job in the Middle East.

"A degree from the University of London is highly regarded by employers in the Middle East."

The legal job market in the Middle East, especially in the UAE, is extremely competitive. Employers prefer hiring candidates with extensive regional experience. Three years back, taking such a major step in my professional life seemed quite ambitious. Certainly taking such a step would not have been possible if I did not have confidence in my interpersonal skills. I very strongly recommend obtaining an academic qualification from the University of London. One of the most compelling advantages of obtaining a law degree from the University of London is the numerous career options available after graduation. Going through the rigorous process of acquiring the degree not only improves your academic knowledge, but contributes significantly towards your personal development.

During my job hunt in the UAE, I contacted some career counselors and HR managers who acknowledged the fact that having a degree from the University of London greatly increased my employability. Having a legal degree from the University of London generally got me positive reactions from employers and made me realize that a degree from the University of London is highly regarded by employers in the Middle East. I managed to secure a job as a Legal Consultant in a leading Intellectual Property Law firm in the UAE entrusted with extensive trademark portfolios. Apart from this, I occasionally publish articles on trademark and technology related issues. Recently, I published articles on the potential infringement of trademarks in the virtual world and the impact 3D printing technology has on Intellectual Property Rights.

Practising Intellectual Property Law for the past three years has piqued my interest in this field and I intend to continue practising as a trademark attorney for a few more years, after which I intend to pursue an LLM in Intellectual Property at one of the University of London’s Colleges.