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World Mag > WM Winter 2014 edition > Interview with Corina Demeter

Interview with Corina Demeter

A bit of law
Corina Demeter Class of 2008
Corina Demeter Class of 2008

WM: You were at AISB from 2002-2008 and completed 7th – 12th grade at AISB, what are your fondest memories? How was the school back then? Any special memories that you want to share?


CD: The sports tournaments, theater plays, proms, graduation...I had so many fantastic memories at AISB, it’s very hard to pick just a few!


Some of my highlights definitely come from the annual schooltrips we took to the Romanian mountains. I particularly remember how much fun I had going camping, rock climbing, and hiking in Tismana and Sovata; the teachers were always very good at planning a wide variety of activities, ranging from building rafts and tents, to listening to scary stories by the bonfire, to cooking our own food in the woods. I think welearned a lot of useful skills during those trips and there was no better time in the school year during which you could have as much fun with your friends – the late nights talking in our rooms and trying not to make too much noise always ended with us laughing too loudly and doing pushups in the hallway, which was a surprisingly entertaining punishment!


The community service events, such as the Terry Fox Run or Children’s Day, were also extremely fun to attend – looking back, it’s quite impressive how many of us got involved and I think it gave us all a real sense of community.


The school was growing quickly back then – one of the reasons I think I enjoyed my time at AISB so much was that the peoplewere all extremely nice and yet each of us was very different.We were all encouraged to be well-rounded individuals, studying hard but also having a lot of fun at the same time. I think this gave us a great balance from a young age.


WM: You went on to study law at King’s College London? How did you choose this university and your major? What were the main 3 points that drove you in that direction?


CD: Yes, I went to study law at King’s College London in 2008. At the time, I was choosing between studying in France and the UK – I discussed my options with a few lawyers and they pointed out that English law is used as the governing law in most international contracts and the English courts are often chosen as the forum for arbitration and settlement. Studying law in the UK seemed extremely valuable and it became clear that becoming an English lawyer would give me a lot of freedom in the future to move around the world if I so wish. Thiswas definitely one of the main factors in my decision. I was alsoaware of the fact that the UK has some of the best universities in the world and the great reputation of the UK education alsoinfluenced me in that direction. During 12th Grade, I came toLondon to attend an Open Day at King’s College London. The university is situated in Central London and I really enjoyed the dynamic vibe of the area and the friendliness of the people who showed me around.


My choice to study law was again based on research. I had a phase before that where I wanted to become a doctor – however, I spent a full night shift with a cardiologist in the emergency room at the Floreasca hospital and I quickly realized that I would get too emotionally involved in my patients’ health problems. I then met with a few lawyers and after listening to the type of work that they were involved in, I felt that pursuing a legal career would suit my personality very well. Additionally, another driving point was the fact that the law plays a role in all industries and therefore, I could apply my legal education to business,science, arts or any other field – I felt thatI would never be limited in my profession and I could constantly challenge myself.

WM: What is law to you?

CD: Law to me is the foundation of our society – it underpins economics, politics, science, and even the arts to some extent, by protecting artists’ and inventors’ creations through intellectual property laws. It is a facilitator of economic activity and it encourages stability. I also believe that the world would be much more chaotic without law and I see it as a way to create a more orderly society. The law also strives to protect the weak, for example through consumer protection legislation and employment laws. I think the law can be used for anything, whether it is to prevent someone from causing damage, to enable someone to start a company or simply to express your own opinion.

WM: How did your time at AISB support your decision to attend King’s College London, and presently, what you do now in terms of the internationalism and diversity associated with your work?

CD: AISB, and in particular the International Baccalaureate, has prepared me extremely well for my degree at King’s College London and for my current work as a lawyer. The classes in AISB, such as IB English, History and Economics, enabled me to develop very strong analytical and writing skills. I remember the ease with which I could write legal essays during university, especially in comparison to other students who had not studied in the IB program. This is also extremely helpful to me nowadays because analyzing and interpreting the law correctly is a crucial skill for a good lawyer. As a trainee solicitor, I am evaluated on the way I present my legal advice to clients and therefore, being able to write clearly and concisely is also a must.

On a more personal level, AISB taught me how to work with people who havedifferent personalities, work styles, and cultural backgrounds. The firm where I work now is the eighth largest law firm inthe world – it is extremely international in its approach and the people who work here come from all over the world. All projects that we are involved in have an international edge to them – for example, we may be acting for a Spanish company who wishes to build a metro in Dubai, with the contract being governed by English law. It is therefore extremely important to have a global outlook. AISBhas definitely helped me develop aninternational perspective, which I now apply in my work on a daily basis.

WM: What career are you pursuing now? Tell us more about what this career means to you on a personal level? What attracted you towards this career?

CD: Since September, I have started working as a trainee solicitor at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP. In order to qualify as a lawyer in the UK, you must complete a two-year training contract at a law firm. Throughout these two years, I will be spending six months in fourdifferent departments. At the end, I willhave the opportunity to choose which department I want to qualify into. Also, I have the possibility to spend one of my seats abroad, in one of our internationaloffices, such as Tokyo, Hong Kong, orSingapore, among others. I am currently sitting in the Real Estate department and I am really enjoying how diverse the work is – it is also very exciting to see your work end up in the news a lot of the time!

I was attracted by a career in law because I liked the intellectual challenge involved – I always thought of a lawyer’s work like solving a puzzle, in terms of interpreting the law, applying it to thespecific case that you are working on and trying to find a creative solution
to enable your client to achieve their commercial goals or solve their problem, depending on the situation. I also wanted to become a lawyer because there is no routine involved since each case is sodifferent. Additionally, I found it appealingto work in a fast-paced, international environment, similar to the one in which I grew up at AISB.

WM: You live in London now, what is that like? Tell us 3 reasons why London is a special place for you?

CD: One of the reasons why I love London is that it is an incredibly diverse place and it is extremely multi-cultural. There is always some new event, concert, or exposition to attend, or a new restaurant to discover. It is also very dynamic and it never ceases to surprise me. My best friends and my parents live here now, which is why it has actually become my new home.

WM: Many lawyers take up community service in the form of pro bono work, how does this work? What kind of pro bono work are you doing? How does your involvement in service to the community help you overcome daily challenges, both personal and professional?

CD: I think most lawyers are encouraged to take up pro bono cases throughouttheir careers. My firm stronglyencourages us to do this – once every six weeks, together with a group of lawyers from work, we attend the Whitechapel Legal Advice Clinic (WLAC) in East London, where we interviewclients who could not otherwise afford to pay for legal advice. Their cases are always very interesting and varied, ranging from employment, to housing, to debt recovery issues. We work on their cases for free, for as long as we need to in order to solve their case – we represent them in court if needed, we draft legal letters for them and we advise them on the next steps they should take.

I also participate in a program called Language Liaison, which involves teaching French to girls from a local school who are studying for their GCSE exams. I work with six girls who come toour offices for an hour every two weeks.Together with two other lawyers frommy firm, we help them improve their oral French skills and we also try to generally motivate them to do well in school and have high goals for their future careers.

On a personal level, being involved in pro bono is extremely rewarding and it allows me to get to know otherlawyers in my firm with whom I may not ordinarily interact. Professionally, it helps me strengthen various skills that are required of a lawyer. For example, it helps me improve my communication skills by interacting with clients from various backgrounds. It teaches me what questions to ask in order to learn all the important details about my client’s case and it pushes me to think of creative ways in which to use the law to protect my client. The experience from WLAC also teaches me a lot about various areas of law that I would not necessarily learn about otherwise, such as employment law.

WM: What do you do in your free time?

CD: As I said, there is always something exciting going on in London and I try to explore the city as much as possible in my free time – I go out with friends todifferent restaurants, bars, cafes, andsometimes to museums. During the summer, I go for picnics in Hyde Park and during the winter, one of my favorite activities is to go to Winter Wonderland. I also recently restarted playing the piano, which always used to relax me when I was younger. I spend the rest of my free time watching movies and going to the gym (although my long work hours don’t allow me to go as often as I intend to).


WM: What advice would you give current AISB students who are trying to decide what career path to choose? Is there anything you could share with them that might help them identify the right university studies for them, and furthermore, the actual career they will pursue? What about those who have chosen something they are notsatisfied with? What advice would yougive them?

CD: I think the best advice I could give to current AISB students who are in the process of deciding what career to choose is to do their research properly.It is very difficult to know what a certainprofession actually involves on a daily basis without experiencing it – speaking to people who know the ins and outs and the pluses and minuses of a certain career is the best way to decide whether you would be interested in that area.

Additionally, those people woulddefinitely have faced certain obstaclesthemselves throughout their career and they can teach you what to avoid and what is the best way to succeed. In terms of university, again, research is crucial. I would tell them to research the university rankings for the subjectthat they wish to study, find out moreabout the particular modules they would be studying, about what life is like on campus, what sports and other societies they could get involved in, opportunities for spending a year abroad, etc. If theycan, they should make the effort to travelto the university for an Open Day as this can give you a better feel for what life is like as a student, not only at that particular university but also in that city. To those who have chosen somethingthey are not satisfied with, I would say that they should not panic – finding out what you definitely don’t want to do issometimes just as important as knowing what you do want to do. I would advise them not to be afraid to switch universities if they need to – I have a few friends who have done that and ended up being very happy with their choices.

For people who are truly undecided, I would advise them to choose a more general degree that they will be able to use in a variety of professions, such as economics.

WM: What should an Alumni Association “look” like to you– regarding involvement with the school and the community? What should be the association’s focus? What do youthink the benefits of being part of suchan association are/would be?

CD: I think an Alumni Associationshould firstly enable the alumnithemselves to keep in touch with each other, for example by organizing reunions or sending out newsletters about notable things that the other alumni are doing intheir careers. The benefit of being part
of such an association is that it allows us, the alumni, to keep our old networkof friends alive, despite living in differentcountries.

Another focus from my point of view should be to keep the alumni connected to the school, by informing us of any future plans or remarkable things that the current students are doing, such as winning any important awards or tournaments. It would also be interesting to know what universities the students are planning to attend and what percentage of them are getting acceptedinto their first choices. The Alumni Association should also encourage communication between the alumni and the current students. This would provide a forum through which the students could get advice on their career choices from the alumni, who have had various experiences and have been through the same process at one point.

I think the current Alumni Association is already doing a great job at keeping us connected – meeting my old friends at reunions and hearing how successful they are always reminds me how great AISB was and what a sophisticated, international education it has provided to us, the alumni.

Read the entire WORLD Magazine Winter 2014 edition here.


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