Meet Zyna - a Future Trainee at Latham & Watkins

Driven to pursue a career in commercial law by a love of the structure and order that law imposes on the world, future trainee Zyna was attracted to Latham’s ‘one firm’ approach. Having completed a vacation scheme in London, she is looking forward to returning to the firm as a trainee.

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Zyna Shoukat

Future Trainee

Latham & Watkins

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born and raised in Islamabad, Pakistan, and in a somewhat unconventional move, came to the UK for university. I am currently a rising third-year studying law at the University of Oxford.

My initial desire to study law came from witnessing miscarriages of justice and the roles wealth and power play in those miscarriages in Pakistan. I continue to love the structure and order the law imposes onto the world. This, combined with my affinity for global economic and social development, and my need for an intellectually stimulating career, drew me to commercial law.

What attracted you to Latham?

Knowing I wanted an intellectually challenging career at an international law firm motivated my research into Latham. The ‘one firm’ approach appealed to me, as it fosters Latham’s excellence in corporate disciplines and the rare opportunity for challenging work for potential trainees like myself at the early stage of our careers. I quickly learned that the firm’s growth strategy is unparalleled. Researching how the firm expands alongside its clients and opportunities demonstrated that Latham’s entrepreneurial culture positions the firm to succeed, as it grows with the market and does not become complacent. I was also impressed with the consensus-based management style, that is unique to Latham and shows true innovation and transparency.

What did you enjoy the most about your vacation scheme?

The unfiltered insight into my supervisor’s daily responsibilities, which reaffirmed my desire to work at the firm. Corporate socials and meeting others participating in the vacation scheme were also definite highlights.

What surprised you the most?

The diversity! So much so that it is often one of the first points I bring up when someone mentions the firm. Though I had read that Latham was committed to diversity, I had no idea how true I would find this in practice. On a vacation scheme of 9 people, finding a fellow Pakistani and many people who shared my faith was a welcome surprise. I have yet to come across another firm where I time and again saw myself represented, as a woman, as a person of particular faith, and as a person of colour.

Is the office environment different to what you expected?

Having completed a vacation scheme the week before, I had some idea of what to expect going in. However, I was surprised in many instances — at just how welcoming everyone on my floor was, at the fact that just an email would spur even the busiest partner to come welcome you in and share their knowledge, and that I could (and was encouraged to) show up in jeans on Friday.

How would you describe your experience overall?

I can safely say that my heart raced every time I got a call in the week following the vacation scheme. Though I expected to like the firm, I had no idea just how much I would love the environment, the people, and the work that they do. I tend to approach everything I do with passion, and the vacation scheme left me feeling very passionate about pursuing a career with Latham.

What is a key takeaway from your experience at Latham?

Latham is a firm that values every one of its people. We were told this at orientation the first day, and I witnessed how true it was as the scheme progressed. The day I received my offer, I fielded emails from not just my wonderful trainee mentor, but from both my interviewing partners, my associate supervisor, and three of the trainees I met on the scheme. That so many people took the time to tell me I deserved the place, that they were happy to have met me, and that they hoped I chose Latham made me feel more valued than I thought possible at this stage.

Can you briefly outline a typical day during your Vacation Scheme?

We started our days by immersing ourselves in work with our associate supervisors. I sat in the Corporate Department and was given a handful of tasks to do per day. My supervisor explained each task and resource to me before I began, often giving me an overview of the anatomy of a deal to aid my understanding. This made up the majority of my day, with some hours spent on the written exercise upon which we were assessed. In between, I would share coffees with my mentor, and met with associates and partners from different departments I took an interest in. The day was often followed by an activity, such as team drinks, dinner at a wonderful restaurant, or a few matches of crazy golf.

Do you have any advice for individuals looking to apply for Latham’s vacation scheme?

Research the firm, explore the deals and matters it works on, and learn what sets it apart - because there is so much that does. Attend law fairs, go to open days, reach out to people on LinkedIn. Put in the work! If you are truly passionate about the firm and about a legal career, it will shine through.

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