Name: Yasmin Kaur Johal
Job Title: Financial Services Regulatory Associate
Backstory: Yasmin read Law with Transnational Legal Studies at King’s College London, and spent a year of her degree exploring law, economics and politics at Georgetown University. Before starting her training contract, she spent a year working as a Private Banker at HSBC in New York. She went on to complete her training contract at CMS and qualified into the Financial Services Regulation team in August 2019. Yasmin is a member of the equIP accelerator programme at CMS, which is one of the world’s prominent start-up legal incubators and is a founding member of the CMS equIP #LeadHers campaign, which focuses on supporting female founded Tech start-ups. Yasmin is also a committee member of CMS’ BAME Network and Mental Health and Wellbeing Inclusions Network. Yasmin is recognised as WeAreTechWomen’s Top 100 Women in Technology and was a #TechWomen100 2020 Award Winner.
Who or what influenced you to train as a lawyer? Growing up, like most children from a North Indian descent household, it was either becoming a doctor, an accountant or a lawyer. I hate blood and my maths is awful, so there really was only one option! In hindsight, it was probably the best decision I made. Some of the most successful politicians, CEOs and world leaders have trained as lawyers. The skills you learn in terms of analytical, communication and negotiation are transferable skills across many aspects of work as well as personal life.
If you didn’t pursue a legal career what would you be doing now? An Indian wedding planner! I love organising grand events, not to mention the opportunity to mix music and food as well as compiling a 30 tab spreadsheet (one of my many hidden hobbies)…
What does success mean to you? Success is reaching your OWN goals. You set your own goals, overcome challenges in your own way, learn and evaluate and then succeed. Success differs for each person and is measurable by your own yardstick. We are all successful in our own ways.
Imagine a time when you felt like giving up. What helped you bounce back? My family and friends are my biggest supporters, always lifting me up when I excel but still there to catch me when I fall. I also have some great role models, mentors and colleagues, who have helped steer and champion my career journey to date, and all of whom have provided invaluable advice and guidance along the way. Always remember, no pain, no gain… but your support network can help you along the way.
What advice would you give to your younger self? Being a people’s person can take you a long way. It is also key in building and maintaining relationships, be it personally or professionally. Every relationship you make can add value to your life, the hardest part is finding out how. I never appreciated the importance of networking until much later in my university days, and sometimes saw it as more of a formality more than anything. But now I look back and evaluate my career to date, and remember, that if it wasn’t for the cold call message on LinkedIn, and the then CMS trainee who took me for coffee before my CMS vacation scheme to talk about CMS, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. Cultivate and nurture each relationship to your best ability. The people you develop relationships with can eventually turn into friends, colleagues or clients one day.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt about life and / or work outside of a formal education setting? It doesn’t matter if you cross the finish line first, or last, what is most important is that you started and finished. We are all on our own life trajectories and do not forget that we have our own paths to follow.
If there was one skill you could’ve excelled at during your formative years as a lawyer what would that be? Remembering that every person, irrespective of how senior they are, is human. As a trainee solicitor, or a newly qualified lawyer, it can be very daunting working for senior associates or partners, and sometimes we worry about how to approach such individuals or how to frame a question to elicit relevant information. But remembering that in “real life” we are all humans, and that there is no such thing as a “silly question” or a need to recite your question a million times before you ask it, makes work more manageable. Now at 1.5 years qualified, I laugh at how scary certain situations seemed to be as a junior. I also appreciate this is something that comes with time, confidence and experience.