Secrets of Success: Sarosh Zaiwalla, Senior Solicitor of Zaiwalla & Co Solicitors.

Tony Blair did his work experience with the firm, they act for high profile figures including the Dalai Lama and working with both Hong Kong and Russian governments.

Here we find the secret of his success

What is your start-up story?

I trained at an English solicitors on fleet street in the late 70s. A very nice English partner international Arbitrator advised me that as an Indian, I would never progress to my capacity at an English firm and the best thing to do would be to set up on my own.

In 1982 I started up on Chancery Lane in a small office and was lucky to have obtained instructions from the Indian High Commission which gave me an entry into the International shipping Arbitration work. In those years Indian Government had to charter ships to bring across to Indian ports wheat which the US Government were donating to India under the US PL 480 Scheme.

Although I received a great deal of support from my local legal fraternity and British Judges, some in the elite Commercial Court, were not used to seeing a non-white solicitor appearing in Court.

I never anglicised my name ( which many told me to do when I came to the UK) and I was able to bounce back from the obstacles. In fact retaining my Indian name was an advantage because I later found that many others who had anglocised their names were not respected by the local community. I faced in the early days many obstacles but which I was able to overcome through Tenacity and sincere honest work.

What products or services do you provide?

We provide high value litigation and arbitration advice for a mostly international clientele. That is our specialty and I’m happy to say we are well respected in the London legal fraternity for being innovators in this field. Our service is provided efficiently and effectively – we get to the point and respect innovation in our team members. Our clients appreciate that we do not engage in heavy billing tactics. We have often been consulted and acted for Vincent Tchenguiz and his brother Robert Tchenguiz.

What problem does your company solve?

We take on the difficult cases that other firms may reject at first instance. Some of our most prestigious wins have been matters where the client having been told by the city firms that they stand no chance, have come to us desperate for a new take and we have won for them. One of my first cases was a ‘ no chance’ matter for the President of India in which we won in the then House of Lords. Similarly the recent Supreme Court Bank Mellat case against the UK government came to us after the client lost in both the High Court and Court of Appeal using another city firm.

What is your USP

A readiness to test new points and new arguments. In the case of Shah v HSBC, we took points that did not find favour with many at the beginning but ultimately the Court of Appeal agreed with us. The case changed the face of internal compliance procedures in the international banking world.

Any thoughts on the future of your company?

Cementing a position as the multi-cultural alternative to the big City magic circle for international parties litigating and arbitrating in London.

What have you done to make sure you get the right people with the right skills in place?

Personality is important aside from the obvious intellect and keen interest in the law. We take on people with a positive outlook and who are happy. This is important as it keeps team morale up which is ultimately reflected in the quality of work we produce.

Do you have any tips for managing suppliers and customers effectively?

Be friendly but keep a professional distance. Be politely firm in what you expect from others and you will be respected from the start.

Any finance and cash-flow tips?

We now always secure our fees from client before incurring legal fees. We are also transparent and clear about our fees right from the start which in turns reduces bad debts.

Any advice for the Government?

London should look to the east for growth and make equal opportunities for all. Women and ethnic minority groups in business are key to the success of the UK’s future economy.

What is your attitude towards your competitors?

We welcome competitors and meet them regularly. Competition is a challenge and encourages innovative business strategy. Our policy is never to criticize our competitors.

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