Queen Mary students are the most commercially aware wannabe lawyers in Britain

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London uni wins corporate law version of University Challenge


Three students from Queen Mary University of London have beaten off competition from 112 teams across 42 different universities to win the first ever national commercial awareness competition.

Mitan Patel, Jonathan Hollingsworth and Amir Ben Shabat emerged victorious from a final held yesterday at Barclays’ Canary Wharf headquarters, beating off teams from the universities of Leeds, Edinburgh and York.

The contest is a bit like a corporate law version of University Challenge, with Chris White — the founder of the diversity and networking group, Aspiring Solicitors, which runs the competition — playing the role of a youthful Jeremy Paxman.

It began in November, with two rounds conducted over the phone by White, whittling contestant numbers down from 112 to 24. Then semi-finals were held earlier this year at four corporate law firms: Mayer Brown, Hogan Lovells, Simmons & Simmons and Clyde & Co. Out of that progressed four ace teams to yesterday’s final, which was judged by White and lawyers at the firms.

Yesterday’s questions (a selection of which are pictured below) were of the type used in law firm trainee assessment centres, with finalists also asked to discuss recent Financial Times articles and deliver a team presentation on a topical commercial issue.


Speaking to Legal Cheek yesterday, White, who used to be a corporate lawyer at Norton Rose Fulbright before setting up Aspiring Solicitors two years ago, said he hoped the experience would help the participants as they negotiate the ultra-competitive hunt for a training contract.

“To an extent the competition is modelled on the law firm application process, with the last two rounds great preparation for law firm assessment centres. All 460 students who participated should be able to build on what they have learned as they work towards becoming solicitors,” he said.

All the students who reached yesterday’s final won work experience in the legal team at Barclays, with the winners getting a full two-week summer vac scheme at Simmons & Simmons plus short placements at Mayer Brown, Hogan Lovells and Clyde & Co. As a bonus, the lucky trio also won new suits, which will doubtless come in handy during their work experience marathons.

Applications for next year’s Aspiring Solicitors’ UK Commercial Awareness Competition can be made here.