Amandip Dhillon

Amandip works as a senior associate in our Birmingham office, and is the co-chair of our race, ethnicity and cultural heritage (Reach) network.

Can you describe your journey to becoming a lawyer?

I studied law at A level and enjoyed it enough to take it at university. During my degree I also did some work experience at criminal law firms and applied for vacation schemes, but was unsuccessful in these. After uni, I wasn’t having any luck with applications until my uncle got chatting (in a pub!) to a partner of a small law firm. The partner invited me to send over my CV, which led to an interview and a paralegal/legal assistant job. This was my first step to properly working in the legal profession and set me up with experience that helped me achieve a job as a private client paralegal at Mills & Reeve. Having got my foot in the door, I did this role for a year, obtained a place on the Mills & Reeve vacation scheme, and was ultimately awarded a training contract. A few years later, after studying the LPC and undertaking my training contract I qualified into the banking team.

What advice would you give your younger self, or people hoping to build a career in the legal sector?

I had to work hard to get a foot in the door as I didn’t really have anyone in the profession to go to, no one in my family had done law or worked at the bigger firms I wanted to apply to. There were points when I was very close to giving up on law as a career option, and was considering going into another profession. I even had an interview at Deloitte booked just before I managed to get a job at Mills & Reeve. As a result of this, my advice would be to not give up. Persist in your goals. You’ll get somewhere, it might just take longer than you think!

Make the most of any opportunities, even if they’re not exactly what you want. You’ll still learn something from them! Don’t feel scared to talk to people or worry you won’t have anything in common. I used to shy away from networking events because of this, but you can always find some common ground to talk about – don't doubt yourself, your abilities or how interesting you are.

Can you tell me about your career highlights?

My secondment at HSBC opened a lot of doors for me in terms of confidence in business development, and allowed me to build a good connection with the people I worked with there. It helped me to prepare for my senior associate promotion, and I still keep in touch with my former colleagues. It was a great time to have a new 8-month challenge while coming out of lockdown and helped me further develop my legal skills and knowledge.

I'm very passionate about my involvement in the Reach network where we work to make the firm a better place for everyone to work. I also enjoy helping juniors to progress and giving them advice to help them get where they want to be.

I also reverse mentored our managing partner Claire Clarke a while ago. Getting to see things from her perspective was helpful to understand the experiences of more senior people and how they manage things that high up in the firm. It was also a fantastic opportunity for me to relay what improvements the firm could be making to create a more inclusive culture from my point of view. I almost didn’t realise what a big deal it was as she’s a nice normal person and it didn’t feel daunting to talk to her, particularly after the first few sessions.

What inspired you to become co-chair of our Reach network?

When the network first started, I was keen to join as the firm wasn’t as diverse as it is now. I wanted to help lead the network to do as much as we could so people would feel they fit in and aren’t the odd one out. Through my own experiences I wanted to do something to proactively support this, particularly from a South Asian perspective.

What Reach initiative are you most proud of?

Probably the Reach into Schools programme with George Dixon School in Birmingham. It’s an initiative to encourage students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds to consider a career in law. We’ve built a successful relationship with the school, have had buy in from our head of office, and got to go into the school to meet the head and students, and hear their points of view.

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