Barrister & Director of Advocacy
DWF Advocacy Ltd
- How did you get started in your career?
In truth it began when I was asked to read a match report of my school’s football team at assembly in front of a couple of hundred people. I was six. The adrenaline, the fear, the excitement, having a captive audience – using my own words and my voice. I was hooked. This then led me into debating competitions.
From there A levels that would help to pursue a Law degree (English, History, Psychology) at University followed. There I did more debating and mooting (essentially, legal mock trials on points of law) and on to Bar school, before pupillage and practice.
- What is a highlight of your career?
I was recently instructed by a client to lead their legal claims in arbitrations and negotiations in a series of multimillion-dollar disputes that span 5 countries. Although I’ve had the chance to be involved in much larger disputes, these are for an international client who I went out and convinced that I was the right person for them. They’ve trusted me to travel around the world and represent their interests, which I do passionately. It’s hugely satisfying to have won that trust from nothing and then repay it by securing the legal rights and remedies they’ve wanted so badly, for so long.
- How do you unwind?
I like to play squash and golf or watch cricket. Listening to Qawaali, ghazals or Coke Studio (while cooking) will always be relaxing for me. In the end though, laughing and laughing hard, with family and friends is what releases all the tension.
- What does an average workday look like to you?
The life of a barrister is extremely varied, the variety itself is one of the reasons why people like it as a career. A recent day though involved a call at 4am with lawyers on the others side in a case in Malaysia. At 7am I was playing squash and by 9am I was on a call with Pakistani co-counsel in a matter where we are representing a mutual client. At lunch I had a meeting with a client in the city ahead of a mediation his company is facing in the new year. After lunch I participated in recording a podcast at Middle Temple on pupillage and how to get it. The rest of the afternoon was catching up with staff and admin before briefly attending a client Christmas function near our London offices. I was home by 9pm and out like a light pretty soon after.
- What has been the greatest hurdle for you to overcome in your career?
I originally practiced in criminal law, but I always had an eye on international/ commercial work. Having qualified in a criminal set of chambers I thought I could just transfer easily. This proved naive and nearly impossible. The transition to a full-fledged commercial practice took; moving chambers, then into a law firm, diversifying my practice and then eventually catching a break and being instructed in my first significant international arbitration. A lot of people told me I was crazy along the way and that nobody transitions practice areas like that. I’m glad and proud I didn’t listen to that advice!
- What is the best thing about your job?
The people. Yes, the work is intellectually challenging and stimulating but I am a people person. My clients and colleagues are what make it so enjoyable. Whether it’s watching people grow and develop, seeing how your work has changed you client’s company or just bouncing ideas off hugely bright co-workers who may see something you don’t. I love that.
- How would you describe the type of work that you do each day? Why is it important?
As a company director, I have responsibilities for the strategic growth and development of our business. Resourcing the delivery of quality advocacy services (traditionally associated exclusive with chambers in England and Wales) across an international network is what I am tasked to do. This is hugely important as we are challenging the near-thousand-year-old model of barrister’s chambers. We are using innovation and forward thinking to offer our clients what they see in other countries – a fused profession. We are breaking down the walls (literally) between solicitor and barrister to provide our clients with streamlined, harmonised, expert legal representation. Sounds good doesn’t it?
- What are your plans for the future?
We plan to expand our existing business into other UK markets and then into Europe, MENA and Asia-pac. Having a parent company which already has offices and relationships
across the globe (DWF LLP) we are confident about how this will look.
We are also now offering pupillage which means that we have a direct and irrevocable hand in how (at least some) members of this profession are trained and the values they take forward into practice and tomorrow’s world.