Interviews, Lifestyle, News

International Women’s Day 2022 – Spotlight on Dilpreet Sahota

Dilpreet Sahota – Legal Counsel


Q: Could you start with your past experiences that have shaped your career today?

I’m Legal Counsel here at Vitesse. The start of my journey began with studying law at A-level which sparked a real interest. I loved learning about different areas of law, reading case law and I aspired to carve a career in the legal sector.

No other subject drew me in as much and I decided to study for a Law degree at Brunel University. One of the main reasons I chose that university was because it offered a four year thin sandwich LLB degree – this meant I would complete two legal work placements by the time I completed my degree and for me this was key as I knew competition in the legal sector was tough!

My first work placement was with a private practice law firm in their Private Client department and the second was with the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office as a Case Manager handling drugs importation cases. These two work placements were valuable as they gave me a real insight into working within the legal sector in both private practice and an in-house environment. They also allowed me to grow essential skills such as working in a team, handling a caseload, liaising with clients, developing an analytical and problem solving mindset as well as building some key working relationships.

Following the completion of my law degree, I had to decide which path I wanted to take next; I could go down the route of becoming a solicitor, a barrister or use my degree and go in a completely different direction (which many people do). I decided to go down the route of qualifying as a  solicitor and completed the next stage which was the Legal Practice Course. This course can be completed over a year on a full time basis or spread out over a number of years and I decided to do this on a full time basis over a year.

Once this was complete, the next stage before qualification was to embark upon a two year training contract with a private practice law firm. The application process for a training contract is intense and extremely competitive. I secured a training contract with a private practice law firm based in St Albans. As a trainee solicitor, you gain valuable practical experience. I completed my training contract in April 2016 and was admitted to the roll of solicitors shortly after.

Once qualified, the normal route is to either stay in private practice as a solicitor and work your way up to partner level or work in private practice for a number of years and then move into an in-house position. However, before I even qualified as a solicitor, I was drawn towards working in-house because I’d managed to gain experience both in private practice and in-house before I reached that stage.

What drew me to working in-house was that you can work more closely with a business, in a faster paced environment and on a wider variety of matters which can be a lot more challenging than working in private practice but more exciting.

The commercial side of working in-house also appealed to me as being able to be a part of a company’s growth means you can add real value and that is rewarding.

I was fortunate enough to be offered a Legal Counsel role at a global executive search firm in the City right after qualifying; I had decided that I would see if working in house as Legal Counsel really was the right fit for me and if not I always had the option to go back to private practice. I am pleased to say that once I began working in house, I have never looked back!

One thing I found extremely useful during my first 12 months working in house was having a mentor who was there to help and guide me – at that stage in my career, a mentor was invaluable and I would encourage others to try and engage with mentors throughout their career to keep enhancing their skillset, mindset and performance.

One other point to add is that for anyone considering a career as in-house legal counsel, try and gain as much experience as you can in private practice and in-house so you can get a feel for what both roles require and which is the best fit for you.

Q: What is your role at Vitesse? What would a typical day look like?

I work as Legal Counsel at Vitesse and look after all of our legal matters. This includes negotiating a range of agreements with new and existing clients, our payment partners and suppliers. It also involves engaging with the sales team to get contracts over the line.

A key part of my role is to highlight legal and commercial risks to the business and help with decision making. I work on a range of projects, and engage with stakeholders from across the business on a daily basis.  

My role sits within the Risk, Legal and Compliance function and I work very closely with the compliance team – we look at processes, efficiency and work together in identifying any key risks to the business and strategies to deal with these. Another key part of my role is keeping up to date with changes in legislation and regulations impacting our business. 

A typical day would start with checking emails and more often than not there will be a shift in priorities so what was planned for that morning is shifted around. I will review agreements, attend meetings/calls with various departments from the business and provide advice on a range of matters.

The key is to be able to constantly juggle what you are doing so you can effectively prioritise tasks. I am regularly on calls with sales and senior management and also on client calls to negotiate key contracts.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your role?

Having variety across my working day and variety in the work I do is something I definitely enjoy about my role; no two days are the same. I also enjoy the fast paced nature, I never have a moment to get bored! Alongside the contract reviews and negotiations, I work on various projects and this ensures I am constantly learning and evolving in my role. 

The people at Vitesse make my role enjoyable. Everyone has this can do attitude and general goal to keep things moving forward which is something I value. Senior management are really approachable and always make time for you which can sometimes be hard to find in organisations. It is refreshing to work with like minded people who have the same objective.

Q: What challenges have you experienced them and how have you overcome them?

I guess one of the biggest challenges was joining a company during the pandemic; I joined Vitesse back in June 2020. Normally when you start somewhere, you have face to face meetings with the team and you get a feel of the culture when you are in the office so this was a very new experience handling pretty much everything remotely and trying to build relationships in this new way of working.  

For me personally, it has worked out well and I adapted to this new way of working pretty quickly. The hardest part has probably been knowing when to turn the laptop off as it so easy to carry on working but I have made a conscious effort to know when to switch off!  Adapting to the now hybrid nature of work we see today has been interesting and ultimately it’s been great seeing what the power of technology can really do.

Prior to this, one of the challenges was breaking into the in-house sector when I did so early on in my career; it could have gone either way but I am glad I took that ‘risk’ when I did and delved straight into it. Being thrown in at the deep end can shape you into a much more resilient person. Sometimes in life you have to break the mould and take some risks!

Q: Any tips for getting into the industry / your role?

Firstly, I would say try and get work experience with a legal team in the industry sector you wish to go into. Try and get as much legal experience as you can. Even if that means a two week stint at a company which involves a long commute, something outside of your comfort zone; in the long term it will benefit you and let you know whether that industry is actually right for you. Before actually deciding on becoming Legal Counsel, try and gain as much experience as you can in private practice and in-house so you can get a feel for what both roles require and which is the best fit for you.

Don’t be afraid to knock on doors….literally. Ask those in your desired industry sector for a coffee, send an email, make a call – you’ve got nothing to lose! 

Having a mentor is great for helping you to grow and also to get some independent feedback from. You may even want to have more than one mentor to help with different areas.

Lastly – network – as is plays a key role in building up your suite of contacts. You never know when someone you meet at an event may reach out to you in the future. It also allows you to connect with people you may want to be working with going forward for that valuable experience. Networking is always great for connecting with lawyers or others in your field who you can share experiences with and learn from one another.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you have received?

Thinking back to pieces of advice that I have been given over the years from various people in my life (both at a personal level and professional), the following are always at the back of my mind driving me forward in all that I do:

“Perseverance, commitment and resilience will help you reach goals”

“Our mind is a powerful tool, when you put your mind to something, you can achieve it”

“If something doesn’t go your way, don’t dwell on it, learn from it and move on”

“Time is precious so don’t waste it”

Q: What would you say is your biggest achievement?

I would say carving out the career I have as Legal Counsel, and having the experience I have to date behind me.

On a more personal level I recently completed a house renovation project with my husband. That involved lots of hard work, big decisions and constant changes but I’m really proud of what we achieved together and the finished home.

Q: Any goals for the future?

I would like to see a lot more of the world. Whilst I have been lucky enough to see a lot already, there’s always so much more to see and do.

What would be my top three places to visit? I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii since I was very young so that is quite high on my list. Australia would be next and I’d love to go to Cape Town as well.

Hopefully I can visit all of them in the next three to four years!

Q: What do you like doing in your spare time?

I have a huge interest in interior design; I follow various Instagram pages and visit exhibitions such as the Ideal Home Show, Design London, Grand Designs to name a few.

Keeping fit is important to me so I enjoy going to the gym and recently started yoga – still very much at a beginner stage though!

I thoroughly enjoy cooking and experimenting with dishes.

And finally I love spending time with my family and friends, particularly checking out new restaurants with them.


Talk To Us