Baljinder Singh Atwal case study

Solicitor, West Midlands Police
LLB Law, 2015

""What does your role involve? 

As a Solicitor at West Midlands Police I specialise in Commercial and Property law. I trained at international law firm Trowers & Hamlins and qualified at global law firm DLA Piper before making the move to in house and public sector life. I have been fortunate to work at some great organisations - all of which have been in the Birmingham offices.

Outside of my day job I am Chair of the Birmingham Solicitors' Group which is a networking group and platform for junior lawyers in the Birmingham and West Midlands region. Networking and forming connections has been something which has stayed with me from school and university.

Did you know what you wanted to do before you started University? 

I knew I wanted a career in law but didn't know exactly what I wanted to specialise in. I was always fascinated with having an intellectually stimulating career and knew that it would have to be centred on people and the public benefit. Having a rewarding career was always something I wanted and a legal career was the goal before starting university.

Did you have any work experience before your graduated?

Yes I did several legal and non-legal work experiences. One of my first ever experiences was shadowing barristers in chambers. This was a real eye opener and gave me insight into the world of barristers. I also had work experience in a high street solicitor’s office. Again this was very useful in giving me experience of office life and different areas of law.

My other legal work experience was in a community centre which had a weekly legal support drop in. This was very different from my other experiences and really gave me perspective on the different areas of law and that very public facing function of legal services.

My final legal work experience before graduating was a vacation scheme at an international law firm. If it wasn't for my previous work experiences (legal and non-legal) I don't think I would have been able to showcase my skills and experience to secure my training contract from the vacation scheme.

My non-legal work experience includes working in a phone shop, outdoor markets and student ambassador roles. I would say these experiences were arguably more valuable than my legal work experience. Being outside your comfort zone and being in a public facing role gives you so much experience and perspective which really shapes and develops you as a person.

What do you love most about your role?

I really enjoy having the public interest at the centre of everything I do. Having the satisfaction that my time and effort is going into an organisation which is protecting the public and supporting the community is quite a special feeling.

The other exciting element of in house legal life is that you get the opportunity to be involved in other projects and schemes that are not necessarily focused on one area of law. Having a balanced professional life has allowed me to be involved in other initiatives which I really enjoy. Similarly to university life, it is very satisfying to be involved in different things which all allow one to develop and contribute positively to those around you.

What challenges have you faced during your career journey? 

With the variety and freedom of being able to work on different areas of law, it can be challenging to understand new concepts, legislation and guidance. With anything in life I think you need to be challenged and pushed to really grow and learn. Having to work from home and learn to be as productive in a new environment was also challenging, but something we will all need to adapt to.

The global pandemic was a major event and for me, made me reconsider my previous role and my career going forward. It allowed me to think about what I really enjoyed and the career I wanted. The pandemic put a freeze on recruitment which made searching for a new role difficult. Furthermore starting in a new organisation, there was also the challenge of working from home and not meeting many of my colleagues face to face.

Throughout, having a positive ambitious mindset was key to overcoming these obstacles. Working hard and remaining positive has been my mantra.

How did your time at Birmingham help you prepare for this role? 

My time at university was invaluable. I developed so much as a person, becoming more confident, independent and self-aware. Aside from coming from a strong law school which is recognised across the country I was involved in a number of different experiences which shaped me as a graduate from Birmingham.

I was involved in sport, mentoring and societies. Each one gave me the chance to gain new skills and meet new people, which was ideal for the start of my professional life after university. Having that safe space at university to develop was key to the start of my life after graduating.

What are your career plans for the future?

I plan to keep learning and growing as a professional. I would like to progress in the organisation I am part of and continue making a positive contribution to my profession, my region and my community. I am involved in several professional networking groups and would like to see them grow and flourish as much as possible.

What advice would you give to students who are interested in getting into your industry or role?

I would say research as much as you can and ensure you have some idea of what you will be doing before you get into it. Make connections and build your network so you have a very informed view before you enter the profession. Where possible follow your passion and interests as this will definitely help in you flourishing in any field you choose.

Gain as much experience as you can and keep learning and getting better every day. Take positivity from everything you do and make the most of the opportunities that come your way.


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