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The LLB Law graduate started his own firm in Bangladesh after completing his degree.
Student name: Shawn Novel
Course title: LLB, Law
Year of graduation: 2004
Current employer: Self-employed Head of Firm
Shawn started his own firm in Bangladesh after completing his LLB in Cardiff University, followed by the Bar Vocational Course in London. Later on he completed his LLM at Cornell and the New York State Bar. Sharing some his fondest memories in Cardiff Law School and his time as a student warden, he claims that Cardiff was where he experienced some of the best years of his life.
How was the LLB? What modules and skills did you pick up?
It was very well structured. In our first year we covered the introductory subjects. I was given a wide range of choices in 2nd and 3rd year. It was amazing! And when I graduated, I remember my professors sitting up on stage cheering for me. And it’s just wonderful that you develop such a nice bond with your lecturers.
Cardiff Law School gave me the confidence to be what I am right now. It all started from there. It was amazing at the end of Law School – I felt like I was on home ground. I’ll be honest, even when I was doing the bar in London, I would go back to Cardiff for the weekend everytime I needed a retreat.
Why did you choose Cardiff University? What skills did you gain that equipped you for your current job?
Whilst on UCAS choosing universities, I did my own research from the British Council, and Cardiff was one of the top universities that came up. People talk about all these London-based universities, but with Cardiff I remember along with the brochure, there was a video tape and it showed the entire University and city and I just fell in love with Cardiff. I could picture myself calling that my university. What better place for a young man just about to embark on his new university life?
It seemed so perfect to start that phase of life. I was really young at the point, so I knew if I was going somewhere for three years I really wanted to be in an environment where I would be surrounded by students and where everything around me would have that academic air. It propelled me to study, to work hard and become someone in life.
How does your day to day schedule look like – what are your responsibilities as Head of Firm?
I do a lot of client conferencing – which entails a lot of coffee, to be honest! As Head of Firm, management is the key. I manage and delegate work and also ensure that my associates are motivated. And then of course I do the final drafts myself – I check the nitty gritty details to make sure that the firm delivers its best.
A lot time does go into client conferences – talking about the facts of the case, updating clients on work you are doing, etc. That’s one of the reasons I think law firms demand such long hours. During the day you’re busy conferencing and checking on the progress of the work and only in the evenings you have time to do the actual work.
What area of law do you specialise in?
The area I specialise in is foreign direct investment; equities finance and corporate law. Because of my understanding of the English, American and Bangladeshi legal systems – it pretty much covers most of the commonwealth countries of the world. There are a lot of cross-border transactions going on and it always helps when I know the different legal systems.
What advice would you give to prospective students?
These are the best years of your life; have a great time while developing your legal mind and Cardiff is THE place for all of that. When I was a student, I actually grew from a boy to a man while in Cardiff. I had to sort out my accommodation, make sure I had a bank account, do my laundry, had to cook, do grocery shopping and then after all of that I would sit down to study.
It’s situated so perfectly in the map of the UK – only two and a half hours from London. It also has the beach in Pontypridd and a brilliant environment for students to study. I used to live in Talybont where I was a student warden for Talybont South in my third year – I loved living there! I would walk along the Taf River and go up to the bridge at 07:00 in the morning, find a spot and do my work. That helped me focus so much!
I think the experience of student life has a lot to do with finding out who you are and who want to be – Cardiff is going to help you and make sure you find that out in the end. Cardiff is absolutely great in that sense. I remember being in the city centre, and then popping over to Cardiff Bay whenever I felt like it. I also remember rambling, surfing, fencing.
In other words, there are tons of opportunities to pursue activities of your liking, whilst learning from some of the best faculties in world. It was just fantastic and perfect to be in Cardiff. I hold Cardiff dear to my heart. It’s been over ten years that I had started my student life in Cardiff and yet every bit of it is very much fresh in my memory.