From Dundee to London and Beyond, Nick Buckworth, Partner at Shearman & Sterling, holds Q&A for Law Students
Published on 31 March 2021
Dundee law students get valuable insights from partner with leading global law firm
Dundee Law School retains very strong ties with its alumni community, many of whom have gone on to reach the highest levels of the legal profession and judicial office in Scotland, England and overseas.
Nick Buckworth, a partner with leading global law firm Shearman & Sterling, graduated LLB Hons English Law from the University of Dundee in 1983. Nick specialises in project development and finance practice, predominantly on projects in the energy sector.
In March 2021 Nick gave a Q&A webinar for members of Dundee’s law student societies sharing his experiences of life at the sharp end of commercial practice as well as explaining what leading firms look for in potential recruits.
Leading firms such as Shearman & Sterling recruit a large percentage of their trainees from vacation schemes so it’s important for law students to know how to apply for and make the most of such placements. Nick was able to give many valuable insights.
Ruairidh Gilchrist, who chose to study law at the University of Dundee because of his welcoming open day experience, is now Vice President of the University of Dundee Mooting Society and third year Scots Law LLB
Helping to organise the event Ruairidh said,
"Dundee is such a nice small community and everyone in the Law School is really friendly. You get to speak to and get to know your tutors. Being able to work with Professors, like Peter McEleavy, on webinars like this alumni Q&A, really does create a great atmosphere and a real community spirit. On behalf of Dundee Mooting Society, I also involved the Law Society and the International Law Society. It was a really good collaboration between the three different societies in the Law School."
Hosting the event, Professor of Law and Barrister, Peter McEleavy, says,
"Preparing our students for life in legal practice is one of our key goals at Dundee Law School. For example, in my classes on international litigation I do not simply want my students to know the rules on jurisdiction, but to be able to engage with those rules strategically so that in the future they can give the most effective advice that meets their clients’ needs."
Ruairidh says, "Some students are currently applying for vacation schemes and training contracts. A lot of students find it a bit confusing as to what a vacation scheme is, and how it sometimes can lead to a training contract, and what kind of skills and attributes are needed to demonstrate to get into the vacation scheme."
Working with a top firm in the City of London is an aspiration for many law students. For Peter McEleavy, the path to success is understanding the role of a lawyer in today’s commercial world:
"Nick is a great ambassador and really embodies what we seek to achieve at Dundee Law School – producing highly trained, sensible, pragmatic graduates with a ‘can-do’ attitude. He has reached the highest levels of the profession and it was great for our students to benefit from his insights into the realities of commercial practice and to gain a better understanding of recruitment processes."
Student alumni mentoring
When Nick was first contacted by the University of Dundee about the potential webinar, he was delighted to participate.
Nick says, "Offering some mentorship to the next generation is exciting. When I was a student in Dundee there was the careers office and other things like that, but I had no idea about the legal landscape anywhere. I now know that you have to understand some really fundamental facts about getting a job in big law as it's a very competitive process."
During the webinar, Nick advised on several areas and stated, "Students should register their interest in many law company student events and keep in touch. It's critical that students who are interested in big law, and the South, and London, in particular, are well briefed on what's going on with each of the firms and what programmes are available. This is actually the start of their career."
Global pandemic and legal sector
One of the interesting questions which Nick was asked during the webinar related to the impact of Covid on the working environment in the legal sector. Nick’s response generated a lot of interest and optimism.
He explained that the legal sector already had remote working and flexible working, so these practices were baked into the culture anyway. He thinks the legal sector will return to office life albeit with added flexibility and students were encouraged to hear that they wouldn’t be permanently remote working in future.
Ruairidh added, "Aside from the benefits of the webinar Q&A content, I actually think that the pandemic has given us the overall benefit of these webinars. I think if these events were face to face, we wouldn’t necessarily be able to host alumni who haven't remained local to Dundee because the trip to Scotland might not be feasible for their work schedules."
Nick agrees, "I think at this time in particular, during the pandemic, maintaining such contact with students and having the opportunity for them to share some of their future work concerns is good. So, the online social aspect of attending such a webinar shouldn't be ignored."
Future Q&A events for law students
When asked what advice Nick would give to other alumni thinking of giving their time to host Q&A events for students, Nick says,
"I think that it's really refreshing to be with students and to realise that you do have an important role to play for them in terms of mentoring, in terms of helping them and offering them insights which would not otherwise be available to them. And I think it's a real honour, to be asked to speak to students."
Further events will be arranged with other alumni and we encourage you to follow Dundee Law School and Law Societies on social media to ensure you hear about future dates.
Meanwhile, if you are interested in the career paths of other University of Dundee alumni, why not take a look at some Law School Student Stories and hear how some alumni are working with the United Nations and other global organisations.
Press Office, University of Dundeepress@dundee.ac.uk