My name is Jasdeep Brar (Jas) I am a Resource Co-ordinator in the London Corporate Division at Linklaters. I studied History at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE) and I have a Graduate Diploma in Law and LPC from BPP University Law School.
I have a keen interest in history and politics. I spend a lot of time watching movies, documentaries, period dramas (big fan of Downton Abbey). Most recently, I have started playing computer games again. Since my injury, I have become a regular at the gym and spend my weekends either at physio or during the summer, wheeling around the royal parks and London landmarks. I like travelling and after completing 100km of the Camino de Santiago am planning my next trek.
Tell us about your journey through the recruitment process
After graduating, I took a gap year to work and save the money to return to law school. It was during my gap year that I sustained a spinal cord injury that left me tetraplegic (paralysed below my shoulders). After rehab, I was discharged to a nursing home. I was 22 years old and lived there for over 7 years while looking for suitable accommodation back in the community and securing a care package to support myself. During this time, I started my legal qualifications and looking for a job. I submitted over 40 applications before I stopped counting and hadn’t received any calls for interviews.
Were you open about your disability during the application process? What support was provided to you?
To begin with, I wasn’t. I felt it would be a reason to not be given a role. In the beginning, people restricted my progress based on what they felt I could and couldn’t do and support was limited as I was junior level. When I met my current manager, things changed. We had a very open conversation about what adjustments and tools I would need to be able to do my job.
What led you to this role? Why did you choose to join this organisation?
My current role was a step to develop and progress while waiting for my training contract to start. My manager strongly supported me, identifying this as an opportunity to develop my skills and exposure to a key practice area in our firm. Linklaters was the only firm who gave me an opportunity in 2015 when they gave me a 4-week work experience placement. This has since led to a permanent contract and a five-year career where I have been given many opportunities to develop. They have accommodated my disability and studies. I decided to apply for and accepted an offer for a training contract because I know as a firm they are supportive and invest a lot in their people and push you to achieve your best regardless of your situation. I have been amazed at how many of my colleagues have helped me reach my career goal.
Tell us a bit about the type of work you’re doing at the moment; what are your day-to-day tasks?
As Resource Co-ordinator I work with Partners, MAs and Associates, collating information about their matters and business. I produce reports to reflect this data and aid the Work Allocation Partners when they allocate workstreams throughout the Practice to ensure a fair process. There’s also a pastoral element to the role – liaising with Associates and HR regularly.
How do you manage your disability at work?
I’m open and honest about the adjustments and support I need. I never plan meetings before 10am so that my care needs won’t impact performance. Also, I am very fortunate that I work in an organisation where there is an open culture, teamwork is key and most people are eager to support me to be independent.
What was it about your job/organisation that surprised you when you first started?
Every team I have joined (I have been in four in the past five years) have commented that I am the first physically disabled person they have worked with and the first wheelchair user. It is sad that physically disabled people don’t apply for roles in large corporate firms and limit themselves. What I enjoy most about my work is the people – Team Linklaters!
What aspect of the job have you found most difficult to manage? Is this affected by your disability?
The 9am meetings. My morning care takes 3 hours meaning in order to be at 9am meetings I was waking up at 5am! Thankfully due to my manager I no longer need to attend these meetings.
What is your organisation’s approach to disability; how has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace?
The firm has a very open culture. They run a Reverse Mentoring Scheme and are eager to open opportunities to people of all abilities. I have personally met with the Senior Partner, CFO, COO, Diversity Partner and Diversity & Wellbeing Manager to talk about disability inclusion, what we do right (and wrong!) and how we can encourage more disabled applicants to the firm.
What has been your proudest achievement since starting work?
Securing a training contract in 2020 after 6 years of trying and having a number of people tell me it was an impossible dream.
Tell us about a personal strength or a valuable plus which you have developed, as a result of your disability. How has it helped you in your career?
Care needs and the level of my paralysis has meant I have to plan things in advance to limit the risk of medical emergencies and ensure I can do basic things and live a ‘normal’ life. I have a very regimented routine. This has translated from my personal life into my professional where this planning and eye for detail has helped in my delivery of high quality work and allowed me to work methodically and stay calm in stressful situations.
What do you wish you knew when you were at university?
Gaining work experience is crucial. Due to my disability, I hadn’t had the same exposure and opportunities many of my peers had. However, I still should have joined the Pro Bono clinic and other societies and built up my experience where I could.
What advice would you give a student with a similar disability, who wants to pursue a career in the field you work in?
Get a mentor. I managed to get two at work and their advice and guidance proved very beneficial in helping me gain the work experience and skills I needed to be a successful candidate and achieve my career goals. Neither has a disability but it isn’t about that. It’s about finding people who are senior enough and have the requisite experience to provide guidance and suggestions.
Be honest about what reasonable adjustments you will need to perform to the best of your ability. Remember, it’s about ensuring you have the right tools so the playing field is level.
Ignore the ‘nay sayers.’ I met too many people who told me my goals were impossible or were putting restrictions on my development because I’m disabled. Like me, your disability may require a different and longer route to qualifying in law but it definitely does not mean you are limited or can’t succeed!
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