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Sana Sheikh: On connecting ‘Next Gen’ passion with family legacy

Entrepreneurs 13-12-2019

Senior Associate Solicitor at GSC Solicitors LLP, Sana Sheikh is leading the ‘next gen’ programme at the firm, working with the children of existing clients and the younger generation of business owners and decision makers.

AWM asks Sana about becoming a leader in her own family business and how GSC Solicitors LLP can support multi-generational family businesses.

AWM: How does it feel to join the family business? Was it always your game plan?

Sana: Funnily enough it was never my plan at all; I sort of fell into it whilst training with a large city law firm in London when I realised that I wanted a more boutique experience with more client contact and responsibility at an earlier stage in my career.

 AWM: What kind of law do you specialise in?

Sana: I am a commercial disputes lawyer which means that I help clients resolve disputes whether through the medium of court litigation or alternative dispute resolution methods such as arbitration and mediation.

AWM: With you being a prime example of the ‘next gen’ of GSC, how does your position and experience equip you to work with second generation of clients?

Sana: I am always trying to empathise with clients and understand their personal or business circumstances so that here at GSC I can give them the most tailored and relevant advice possible. This is particularly relevant with the ‘next gen’ and I try to think how I myself would like to receive advice and then apply that to the way I approach my own ‘next gen’ clients.

AWM: What’s a typical day for you at GSC?

Sana: In a typical day I try to find a balance between fostering client relationships by way of meetings and calls and getting my head down into the detail of the law by drafting documents or researching complex areas of law. 

AWM: How do you think the second generation can maintain family values while venturing onto new turf?

Sana: There is an inevitable tension between forging a new path and honouring family legacy, which is best resolved by the second generation being clear in their objectives from the outset. I would suggest that the second generation map out their goals for the company when taking over the reins (and even before) and on the same piece of paper (or computer screen) have a list of the family and company values so that the two can be correlated.

AWM: How do you think GSC can support companies to transcend generations?

Sana: GSC Solicitors can help companies identify potential pitfalls and put in place mechanisms to avoid such pitfalls occurring long before they become in issue, which eases generational transition and the likely tensions it can bring. In the past decade businesses have evolved in line with technological advances and wealth too has grown with asset bases diversifying. So with a much savvier ‘new generation’ client it’s all about providing legal advice also based on more entrepreneurial thinking.

AWM: What do you think a GSC can offer multi-generational families over a larger city law firm?

Sana: GSC can offer multi-generational families an intimate and dedicated approach, taking the time to understand each family’s precise needs, wants and desires and keeping up-to-date with developments in the family, whether it be professional milestones, births or marriages! At GSC we have a very personal approach and in fact have many longstanding clients who have stayed with the firm for over 30 years. It’s extremely important to maintain that our lawyers see themselves as ‘trusted advisors’ to clients and much of our work comes to us through word-of-mouth and personal recommendation

AWM: What factors influenced you to choose law as a career?

Sana: I always knew I wanted to do something people-oriented as I feel I learn the most from engaging with others from different backgrounds. I ultimately chose law as I found it fascinating as an academic discipline and being a solicitor allowed me to combine my passion for people with my thirst for the law. It’s also become a bit of a tradition in my family to pursue legal profession as a career choice – my parents are also lawyers.  

AWM: Can you describe some of the most exciting/ notable cases you’ve worked on?

Sana: I’m afraid I can’t spill all the details (respecting client confidentiality of course), but I have just finished a five-day shipping case that was full of twists and turns and am currently involved in a High Court claim brought by a Georgian businessman against a national bank. However, no matter how challenging the case can be, I always find it to be an interesting and extremely valuable experience,

AWM: What do you wish you had known about the legal profession before becoming a solicitor?

Sana: I wish I had known that it is nothing like how it appears on TV shows such as Suits or the movie Legally Blonde. Whilst it is an extremely rewarding profession, I can’t say it is as dramatic or glamorous as it is sometimes made out to be. It is hard work and keeps you challenged all the time, especially now that clients are much more sophisticated and selective when choosing a lawyer, but it is always rewarding.

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