How I am helping prepare the next generation of lawyers
The College of Legal Practice’s module leader and supervisor Nabeala Fiaz explains how she combines her passion for law and education
Having qualified as a solicitor thirteen years ago and having gone on to specialise in dispute resolution, Nabeala Fiaz is well-equipped to help prepare the next generation of aspiring lawyers. On her own career journey, Nabeala has combined her legal experience with education and teaching to create a more rounded approach to training.
“Because of my mixed experience of practising as a solicitor as well as supporting the development of other aspiring solicitors, I had different skills that I could offer,” she explains. “So I started working for The College of Legal Practice, initially as an expert in the field of dispute resolution, before eventually becoming a Module Leader for the transactional modules in our LLM.”
Before her training contract, Nabeala worked as a paralegal, with the goal of getting a better understanding of the industry she was about to enter. “Being a paralegal allowed me to try out the legal field before committing to it,” she explains. “There are lots of opportunities and directions available when you graduate, so for me, it was a way to test it out and have an inside look into the work environment.”
Her passion for teaching started during her subsequent training contract when a university approached her to see if she would be interested in doing some part-time lecturing. “I ended up delivering lectures to undergraduate law students for two hours a week and I absolutely loved it,” she tells me when we speak. “Helping a student understand an area of law they may have previously struggled with gave me a lot of motivation and that’s when I decided I didn’t want to be a solicitor full-time.”
Now, Nabeala splits her time between those two passions, working for The College of Legal Practice four days a week and spending the remaining day as a consultant solicitor. “And that’s actually really good for our students because they get to hear about real-life experiences through the work I do,” she says.
“My role at the College involves individual supervision, giving students feedback, overseeing assessments and making sure that I’ve got supervisors and materials available for our students,” Nabeala explains. “Then in my other role, I work as a consultant solicitor dealing with lots of different types of disputes.”
Since her qualification, Nabeala has observed a shift towards a more training-focused approach in law firms. Back then it was mostly on-the-job learning and trainees were often thrown in at the deep end, she recalls.
Another positive step is the transition from the Legal Practice Course (LPC) to the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE). “I think it’s positive and opening more doors, thanks in part to its flexibility and cost,” she explains. “When I finished my LPC, I was very lucky to find a training contract. I still know people who finished their studies at the same time as me who still haven’t secured training positions and are currently working as paralegals,” she reveals. “Now I am so positive about this transition because it’s making a very competitive area more accessible to everyone.”
There are many SQE prep providers to choose from, but Nabeala explains why she feels The College of Legal Practice is hard to beat.
“Well, first of all, we only offer postgraduate courses,” she says. “We’re very much focused on that level and we don’t try to cover other professional pathways such as the outgoing LPC or bar course. It gives a better quality of learning. What’s more, all our courses have been specifically designed for online delivery, even before Covid-19. Additionally, the high level of one-to-one tuition support that I and other supervisors can offer, is something the students greatly value.”
And what skills does she believe future solicitors should be building to enhance their careers?
“Traditionally people used to say advocacy, legal drafting and critical analysis. But what I think is really important is that junior lawyers understand the legal environment they work in,” she tells us. “That could be understanding the clients and their expectations, or it could be refining legal and interpersonal skills like communicating within the business, managing workloads, and taking on constructive feedback positively which will enable them to grow.”
The College of Legal Practice offers highly flexible and practice-focused SQE courses at affordable prices, some of the lowest on the market. With some of the highest levels of tutor support in the sector from supervisors such as Nabeala, the College is proud to put its students at the heart of the learning it provides.
Nabeala Fiaz will be speaking at ‘The skills you need to enhance your future legal career — with Clarke Willmott and The College of Legal Practice’, a virtual student event taking place on Tuesday 28 February. You can apply to attend the event, which is free, now.
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