Mohammad Ismail Usman
Name: Mohammad Ismail Usman
Programme of study: Law LLB
Year of graduation: 2020
Place of work: Future Trainee Solicitor, Clyde & Co
What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?
I have just finished my third year of studying Law and will be graduating next summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I'm currently in the process of moving to London to begin my Legal Practice Course (LPC) sponsored by my law firm; Clyde & Co. I will start my Training Contract at Clyde & Co in September 2021 which will last for 2 years after which I will qualify as a solicitor.
Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?
A career in law is one of the most empowering careers one can pursue as it is a job that requires you to constantly innovate and change, be someone capable of adapting to the times so that you can help others whether it is through pro bono and giving back to society or helping businesses resolve impasses. Very few careers can give such a thorough cycle of intellectual growth and development the way law does and empowers you to become an active and contributing member of society. The intellectual challenge and difficulty is really alluring and the obstacles you have to undertake to overcome the challenge and find a solution to the difficult task placed before you is something I really enjoy about legal work. The huge breadth of work, meeting a diverse array of clients and fellow lawyers, hearing interesting stories and being engaged with the most pressing economical issues of the day really helps me maintain my passion for a legal career.
Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?
I was the president of the Exeter Negotiation Group and was a member of the Exeter University Amateur Boxing Club, Dodgeball Society, West Country Society, Debating society, Model United Nations, Economics society, Entrepreneurs society, Creative Writing society and the Exeter Law society Competitions: Oxford University International Intellectual Property Moot 2018-19, Oxford University Press National Mooting competition, Devon Chambers Mooting competition, Exeter Negotiation competition
What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?
In reference to legal study, I really enjoyed the group work element through which I got to meet so many different law students and particularly enjoyed the group discussions over legal intricacies. Outside of direct legal study, something that I really appreciated was how progressive and forward thinking Exeter Law School was through its adoption as the first law school in the country to use computer exams. The Law School has always tried to take pre-emptive steps to improve the student experience and really did its best to hear the voice of the students through the SSLC meetings which I was also involved in. One of the things that I really liked was how we made a proposal to help increase the confidence of students generally through incentives for speaking up and participating in discussions during seminars/syndicates etc and for that, some modules incorporated a 5% mark. The thing I enjoyed the most about the Law school service was the personalised experience whereby the law school really did try to make itself a welcoming community through the multitude of events it put up such as the Easter Egg Hunt, welcome drinks, black tie dinners and so forth.
What did you enjoy most about studying here?
The serenity! the campus is beautiful and just walking into the forum felt rejuvenating and reminded me each time why I loved studying at Exeter. The scenic views and countryside made for amazing trips outside of campus to spend time with friends and the huge swathe of events that societies put up. It really has been a phenomenal experience.
Why did you choose to study at Exeter?
I first visited Exeter at the open day and immediately fell in love with how beautiful the university was, not just with the campus but the city as well alongside the countryside. As well as being one of the cleanest and nicest places to study, the strength of the faculties was a huge pull factor and the impact of the uni's research has made it more so. The university engages with forward thinking research that has consistently propelled it up the ranks and has made it one of the finest institutions in the country. For example, in law, several professors are engaged with some of the most important discussions in legal reform such as no-fault divorce law and increasing access to justice through alternative dispute resolution means. All this has made studying at Exeter an incredibly rewarding journey.
What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?
Transferable skills go a long way, in particular, leadership skills are really important, the ability to solve problems, teamwork and public speaking. These all allow you to work harmoniously with others whilst maintaining your own gravitas so that you can be trusted to carry out any piece of work whilst others have the knowledge that you are a reliable, trustworthy pair of hands.
What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?
If you can believe it, you can achieve it. Never give up, the road to success isn't straightforward and there are a lot of hurdles involved, you will fall but what makes a winner is their tenacity, their ability to never give up, to keep getting right back up and continue to pursue their goal relentlessly. Try to be as confident as possible, it's okay to be nervous but don't doubt your abilities, everyone has to start somewhere. Always be ambitious in whatever you do and never be afraid to ask for help or ask for advice. Not everyone will respond but someone eventually will and they will help you. It's easy to forget that kindness exists in every walk of life and you will always find people willing to help others and see them prosper. I didn't have anyone in my family or close/distant family who had made a successful career in the city, I was really afraid that a culture of connections may have existed due to which I would not be able to succeed but that was not the case, I reached out for help and surprisingly found many people willing to help. You have to work hard, do a lot of reflective thinking to identify your weaknesses and strengths and then build upon them/reform them and constantly adapt and embrace change, it will help a lot.
What are your plans for the future?
I hope to qualify as a solicitor after which I may consider passing the California bar exam and then potentially consider relocating to California due to the huge impact of start-ups in Silicon Valley and engage with leading legal work with tech companies like SpaceX and Google. However that is just one consideration among many, ideally I would like to stay in the UK and carve out a successful practice which leaves me to time to help promote access to justice. I hope to become an MP one day and enter the House of Commons.