Yvonne Akpofure - Legal Assistant - Amazon
Legal Assistant at Amazon
After graduating in 2017 from Nottingham Trent University, I was not 100% sure on exactly which area of law I wanted to go into. Prior to graduating, I had taken the approach of trying anything and everything and took part in a few work experience placements at high street firms working across criminal law, immigration law, employment law and real estate. At the time, real estate was my preference but finding paralegal work after graduating was already a challenge in itself, so I had to be open-minded.
"I remember the excitement I felt on my first day as I took the train up to London not knowing what to expect."
I had been working part-time at Waitrose for about four years prior to and throughout university. My manager at the time suggested that I should enquire to head office about legal work experience as in his words, “if you don’t ask, you don’t get!”. I did exactly that and successfully secured a week long placement to commence after graduation. I remember the excitement I felt on my first day as I took the train up to London not knowing what to expect. I had never been to offices so big and at the time, I definitely felt like a fish out of water. I met Charlotte Lakin who was a paralegal and I soon became very comfortable with everyone in the team due to their friendly and warm nature. I felt a real sense of community and openness and there was no hierarchy amongst team members at all. After spending just a week there, I knew I wanted to work in-house and although such opportunities were difficult to come by, I was hopeful that it would work out for me eventually.
"I knew it would be risky for me to leave my permanent job for a temporary role."
I initially spent one year in private practice working in commercial property, which I enjoyed and learnt a lot from. It was the right thing for me at the time as I supported a small team in a Surrey based law firm and it was a good starting point for me to learn about the legal industry. I came across an opportunity to work with a global technology company via Lawyers on Demand on a temporary basis and I soon found out that this company would be Google. I was excited by this opportunity but I was also apprehensive, as I knew it would be risky for me to leave my permanent job for a temporary role. I knew that these opportunities did not come up often and I took the view that regardless of how long I was there, it would open doors for me further down the line. With this in mind, I made the decision to move and I hoped for the best.
"I was given a lot of responsibility from the very beginning which differed from my private practice experience and I was encouraged to take initiative and make decisions on my own..."
I spent a year supporting one of the commercial legal teams based in London and gained a real insight into the business. I was given a lot of responsibility from the very beginning which differed from my private practice experience and I was encouraged to take initiative and make decisions on my own a lot more. This definitely boosted my confidence and by the end of my temporary assignment, I had become very comfortable conversing with clients independently and working autonomously. It was insightful to experience how the different legal teams across the business worked together and I was able to truly understand the importance of working as a team to meet the same objective.
Just before my contract was due to end, I came across an opportunity at Amazon working as a legal assistant for the digital legal team. I knew I wanted to continue my journey in-house and as I was coming to the end of my LPC, I wanted to be somewhere that could offer me future career prospects. I applied for the role with not much confidence having seen that 250+ applicants had also put themselves forward, but after a rigorous interview process I was offered the role and I have not looked back since.
It is coming up to a year since I started at Amazon and the experience I have gained has been invaluable. I have become even more committed to pursuing a career in-house and I am very fortunate to be surrounded by an intelligent group of people. I continue to aspire to qualify as a solicitor and I am hopeful that this will come to fruition eventually; but in the meantime I am grateful to be in a position that allows me to gain exposure to such a vast array
of legal issues at one of the world’s fastest growing
companies, even in a pandemic!