How did you get started in your career?
When I completed my (non-law) undergraduate degree I faced a choice: to study law or undertake a Phd in management. Law appealed because of the US TV show LA Law and because my dad told me it did!
I started my career at Herbert Smith (now Herbert Smith Freehills). It was a great firm to train with. I left Herbert Smith in 2013 but it continues to have a special place in my heart.
What is a highlight of your career?
There have been many highlights but the one that i am most proud of is becoming a partner at Herbert Smith. I became a partner in 2010 in the peak of the financial crisis having been held back a year because of it. It was a difficult time to start my career as a partner but I learnt a lot in my earlier years.
In recent years another personal highlight has been to be ranked as a Legal Individual (just one of six in the UK) for my area of specialism by Legal 500 which is one of the major legal directories. I think I am the youngest person in this category and the only ethnic minority.
How do you unwind?
I am not very good at unwinding. My mind is constantly switched on and I am always thinking about what’s next. I enjoy spending time with my wife and family, and when time permits to indulge in my love of cars. I have a lovely little collection that includes two gold 1980s Mercedes – essentials for every British Pakistani (although my wife disagrees).
What does an average workday look like to you?
I usually get to work for 8am and, on a good day, will leave about 11 hours later. I spend most of my time in meetings which means that I often also work from home late into the night and at the weekend. It is difficult to achieve a balance but I am getting better at it. I try to work from home at least one day a week which gives me time to focus on doing actual legal work. I treat that day as my catch up day.
What has been the greatest hurdle for you to overcome in your career?
My career has been full of hurdles. In some ways becoming a partner was the greatest to date but in others it was straightforwards. If I am honest the greatest hurdle (in the early stages of my career) was myself. The importance of self-belief and feeling that you belong should not be underestimated.
For some years I was very conscious of the fact that I went to a poor performing state school, was raised in an economically and socially deprived area and was the only ethnic minority in my firm at my level. In time I realised that the people that i was surrounded by did not care about those things; what mattered to them was that i was good at my job and that we worked well together. In time I learnt that I had more in common with them than I thought.
What is the best thing about your job?
I really enjoy working with people. As a lawyer I am a service provider. Most of the work that I do involves working with others, both colleagues and clients, to achieve a common goal. I enjoy learning and helping others to realise their potential. I also enjoy developing solutions to complex legal problems.
How would you describe the type of work that you do each day?
My work is varied. I focus on advising on the legal and regulatory aspects of strategic corporate transactions for insurers and banks. Each transaction and each client is different which adds to the enjoyment.
I have a large team and so also spend a lot of team helping and managing them. Together we work hard to build our business and our brand.
What are your plans for the future?
My team is already ranked in Band 1 (the top band) for some of the work that we do by one of the major legal directories. We have not yet realized our full potential though. I am sure that we can and will do better.
I have recently taken over as Chair of the BPF’s legal forum. I am really excited about that. I am also excited about becoming a trustee of the BPF and to helping it grow and realise its potential for the benefit of its members and wider community.