Laura Uberoi is an associate solicitor at Farrer & Co.
1. You're talking to a friend at a party. How do you describe what you do?
I help people (individuals, companies, charities and schools, for example) secure funding for projects they want to do or assets they want to buy. This includes financing property, aircraft, yachts and art.
I also help banks and other people who want to fund these assets so that they can lend money to a borrower and have adequate protections in place to get their money back. This tends to go better than cutting the conversation off at the beginning by just saying that I'm a banking lawyer!
2. How did you get into law?
Through stubbornness - I always wanted to be a lawyer from when I was little and then have been too stubborn over the years to change! In all honesty, I have always found law interesting (I studied it at university) and I see it as one of the ways that we can really help those who most need support in society, particularly in the current climate.
3. Why did you choose to become a Council member?
When I was on secondment to an international bank, I met lots of solicitors from various firms and backgrounds. Hearing their stories made me realise how alone you can be if you are not lucky enough to work in a firm with a good support network.
I soon realised that the Law Society can provide all of that support and I thought that becoming a Council member would help me contribute to this and spread the word across the profession about the great work we do.
4. How do you think your role helps the Law Society reach its goals?
As well as reaching its goals, it is important that everyone in the profession (and the wider public) are aware of what we do and that we are reaching our goals. I see my role is to (i) as above, promote the Society across the profession and further afield and (ii) feed into the Society's work the perspective from junior members of the profession (who I represent) as these are often the most underrepresented and yet those who can be in most need of support.
5. Share some great advice you've been given.
- Be enthusiastic. When you start a new job or task, people don't expect you to be good at it or to know everything - the key is to be enthusiastic. I was told this when I first qualified and it makes such a difference when my trainees adopt the same approach.
- Get to know as many people as possible and keep in touch with them. I always send a follow-up email to people I meet at events (or speakers) and then check in with them every three to six months. It's always good to expand your network and lots of interesting things can come from the contacts you build up.
6. What one thing could we all do to better embody our values of trust, clarity, respect and excellence?
Ask more questions of your colleagues! There is so much incredible work going on at the Law Society and there are so many people working on projects that it's hard to keep track of it all. The responsibility is on us all to stop colleagues in the corridor and ask what they're working on and introduce ourselves if we haven't met before - perhaps there's something that we're working on or know that could help. This also feeds into the advice above - get to know as many people as possible.
7. How do you relax?
I eat! Before becoming a solicitor, I used to be a restaurant critic for a legal magazine and it was the best part-time job I've ever had. I also experiment with cooking but mainly to get to the eating part - my husband says my cooking is like my singing: full marks for effort but lacking on the talent side!
8. What's your pet hate?
Confusing the phrase 'junior lawyers' with 'young lawyers'. Times are changing and most junior lawyers are not carefree, early twenty-somethings any more. In fact, the average age of a newly qualified solicitor last year was 29. So referring to our newly qualified solicitors as 'young' can not only be patronising but it masks a lot of the problems (debt, balancing family life, stress and wellbeing) that our junior lawyers are now facing.
9. What is your favourite quote?
'"What day is it?" asked Pooh. "It's today" squeaked Piglet. "My favourite day" said Pooh.'
For me, this sums up how we should approach every day. I consider myself extremely lucky to do a job that I love surrounded by brilliant people. It also means that you have to make the most of each day and not put things off. My four-year term on Council flies by and there's so much to do that you have to throw yourself into everything to make the most of it!
10. Sum up the Law Society in one word.