Boys’ Q&A with Anti-Corruption Lawyer
Wednesday, 03 March 2021
Old Boy Suve Banerjee spoke to boys in Year 9 about his work as an anti-corruption and ethics lawyer, helping to protect the company he works for, SAP, from risks and allegations of misconduct. The day before, the year group watched a pre-recorded video talk from Suve about his work as part of a wider careers event. They spent part of the afternoon preparing questions, which they put to him during the live Zoom session.
Suve began with an icebreaker: he showed the boys a heatmap of the world showing where the risks of corruption are the greatest. He asked them to identify the most and least corrupt countries based on the map and talked about where the UK stands on this scale. He explained that SAP’s compliance team has 122 officers world-wide and they use a similar map to work out where to place them, depending on how much business they do in a specific country and how much risk is there.
The boys then launched into an enthusiastic round of questions.
Suve revealed that the hardest part of his career was finding the right role in the right company. He talked about the breadth of opportunities available under the umbrella of a legal career and also, in his case, the different approaches companies have towards compliance which made it harder to find a good fit. He went on to discuss his route into law: he had always planned to be a doctor, but didn’t get the grades at A Level and went on to study neuroscience at university only to realise that he didn’t want that kind of career. Instead, he completed a one-year conversion course and passed his bar exams, then spent three years teaching law at university before getting a training contract at a law firm and continuing his career from there. He said that the teaching was the most unusual thing he did, but it gave him lots more life experience and increased his confidence with public speaking.
He was later asked if he had any regrets and replied that sometimes he wonders what life would have been like if he had gone into medicine: he was only one mark away from the getting the grade he needed! He admitted that he didn’t expect or plan to go into corruption and compliance law, but he said: ‘I genuinely feel as though I’ve found the exact right role and career path for me.’
When asked about the skills required to be a good lawyer, he said it depends on what kind of lawyer you want to be but trust is important. In his role in particular, he needs to be open-minded and able to think outside the box as his job relates to working in grey areas. He also said that attention to detail, ability to focus and languages are key skills, particularly since his job involves international travel.
He talked about his biggest cases, mentioning personal injury cases that had meaning in the wider world and a case involving a Vice President who embezzled money from the company’s community spending fund and ultimately went to prison. However, he stressed to the boys that this isn’t always the outcome and his job isn’t to send people to prison but to protect the company. Suve also spoke openly about how much he earns and the typical earnings of someone working in a high street law firm compared to someone at a magic circle company, as well as the stresses that go hand in hand with the highest salaries.
Finally, he encouraged his audience to make the most of clubs and societies. He said that Bolton School offers a vast array of opportunities, which are not necessarily so readily available after leaving school.
Suve’s question and answer session gave Year 9 an inspirational insight into compliance law as one of the many branches a legal career might take.
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