2020 Instagram Live Series: Life in the Law Through COVID-19

In October 2020, Muslim Legal Network held a three-part Instagram Live Series titled "Life in the Law through COVID-19". Through a conversational Q&A, each episode shed light on the different experiences and difficulties with learning and working during COVID-19. It was a fantastic opportunity for our viewers to hear the unique insights of current and aspiring members of the legal profession.

Below are some key messages from each episode. All three episodes are available on MLN's Instagram.

First Episode: A conversation with first-year Juris Doctor student, Zahraa Albadri, and fourth-year Bachelor of Laws (Honours) student, Aya El Kady.

“When you’re a law student, a really important thing you can do is to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the university, such as clinical legal education opportunities, which every university offers. Even if you don’t secure a spot your first time, keep applying. I applied 2-3 times and finally secured it at the end of my third year”

“You need to show yourself off in the legal profession. Even if you have little to no experience within the legal field, use past work experiences to illustrate what you can contribute. For example, if you have previously worked in an administrative or receptionist role, show that you learned how to communicate effectively with different stakeholders. If you worked in retail, show that you can meet deadlines while under pressure in a busy, fast-paced environment.”

“I’m really passionate about the Juris Doctor pathway. Why I’m a really big supporter of the post-graduate pathway is because I think maturity levels are really different. When you are really confined in the high school environment and when you go straight to university, it’s a dramatic change. For me, I don’t think I would have done as well or known what I wanted to do if I had not done an undergraduate degree before I went into law”

“Being realistic, it’s difficult to do read every single reading during your law degree. In my opinion, it’s all about selective reading. I download lecture slides before the lecture, and I look at the reading guide and see which cases are listed. I then do the readings to supplement what’s not on the lecture slides, rather than to read a hundred pages of something that the lecture would already discuss. I just read to supplement what the lecturer does not talk about in detail.”

Second Episode: A conversation with a newly COVID-19 admitted lawyer, Rukiye Dogan.

“As a person who likes being around people and asking questions face to face, I am honestly not enjoying working from home. However, the struggle has definitely taught me new skills. As a new lawyer, I think it’s an achievement and we can all look back at 2020 and think ‘Wow, I’ve accomplished some new things while struggling through a pandemic.’”

“Some lawyers that have been practising for years don’t know what it’s like to work with these circumstances and they are experiencing it for the first time and are struggling to adjust. So if you can get through your first year as a practising lawyer during a global pandemic, then you can get through anything.”

“In terms of commencing online PLT while still studying at university, I would definitely recommend it if your course load is relatively low. The coursework of PLT is heavier than the workload of law school, because it’s a short, intensive course. So that’s definitely something to keep in mind when considering whether you’re going to be able to balance uni and PLT. If you’re an organised person, I definitely think you would be able to do it.”

“One thing that really pleasantly surprised me was how understanding people are in the legal industry. They actually want to teach you what they know and they want to train you. Lawyers like talking about their journey in this profession and they like passing on their advice.”

“One thing I wish I knew as a law student is that lawyers aren’t as scary as I thought they would be, they’re much more supportive and willing to teach new law graduates about the profession. So don’t be afraid to reach out to lawyers on LinkedIn. If they have the time, they will most definitely answer your questions and help you.”

“Networking events are very important. Meet other legal professionals, ask them what they do in their role, how they got in that position. Don’t be hesitant to engage with these legal professionals as they are actually there to share their knowledge. That’s one thing I learnt how to do very well with Muslim Legal Network events. They really provided me with an awesome opportunity to meet different members of the legal profession. So I recommend networking events, especially MLN’s events, to everyone!”

Third Episode: A conversation with the highly esteemed principal solicitor and community leader, Nazim El Bardouh.

“In terms of transitioning to working from home, our files at the firm were computer-based anyway prior to COVID. To us, it didn’t really take much effort for us to transition to doing things electronically. We had to implement some new systems, for example we implemented an online booking system which allows clients to book their appointments online. Being a tech-oriented firm, the minute we see a tech opportunity we jump on it. So, this was definitely an advantage for us while transitioning and adapting to the COVID situation”

“With managing client expectations during COVID, especially for someone who works with clients with language barriers as an immigration lawyer, a lot of my clients aren’t happy with communicating through the phone and through Zoom. The more anxious the client is and the more serious the matter is, the more they want to see you face to face. Online meetings would never replace face to face meetings as there isn’t a chance to establish an emotional connection and rapport. So there definitely have been problems with managing client expectations during these times as most of them are anxious to come back in and see us face to face.”

“There have been so many significant changes in the law due to the pandemic. The way the courts have been operating, how we can witness affidavits, the way we can draft Wills over the phone. These are all major changes and these changes are happening every single day. In a way, it’s been good for lawyers because we’ve had to adapt to new challenges. We had to make very quick decisions on our feet regarding how to continue to operate and how we manage those challenges, which were arising on a daily basis. However, we have survived this, and lawyers have done particularly well with these changes. So well done to us!”