Gishan Abeyratne
Gishan Abeyratne
Senior Associate: Private Practice

Articles From the Team

If you want to be happy, embrace the change

When people ask me about my background I always take great pleasure in saying I come from a long line of interesting people. My family (for the most part) comes from Sri Lanka. My sister and I were born here in the UK and have lived here our whole lives. I very proudly call myself British but I am also very fond of my Sri Lankan heritage. If you were to trace my family tree back a little further, beyond my grandparents, you would also find influence from France and Germany and possibly other Island nations of the Indian Ocean if you go back far enough, hence why I would say I come from a long line of interesting people. Nevertheless, the greatest cultural influences I have experienced in my mere 29 years on Earth have been British and Sri Lankan. Both of which of course have developed cultures that have been influenced by others over time. British culture as we know it has changed even in my lifetime when you consider popular culture and social trends, as has Sri Lankan culture following the end of the civil war a few years ago and an ever growing and developing economy fuelled by foreign investment and the tourism trade. Some things however will never change; in these times of soy lattes and double espressos we the British still turn to our ever lasting chalice of solace, the cup of tea.

Culture is an interesting word. It is defined as “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively” and “the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.” I find that these two delineations come together very nicely when considering the culture of a law firm. A law firm’s very individual culture is made up of many things; the type of clients they represent, their history, their plans for the future but as it is for the rest of the world outside of those doors the single greatest influence to a firm’s culture is the people.

When you move somewhere new, to a new country or city, for a new job in a new office with new people there is one constant that you as the newcomer have to adapt to; the culture. This may encompass any manner of things; the way you dress (sometimes ties are not required), the time you start your day (not all firms expect you there at 8am), the time you leave to go home (5pm is becoming more and more common), and how you interact with colleagues (these rules still apply at the Christmas party). No two places are the same of course and while there may be many similarities between the firm you left and the firm you joined, subtle changes may often be what you need to adapt to and given the right amount of time and effort this new culture will soon become the one you identify with the most.

When my parents arrived in the UK in the 1970s, for them it was like stepping into a completely alien world; a brand new culture which they had only ever read about before coming to the UK. Neither of them had left Sri Lanka before, neither of them had ever eaten fish and chips before and although it is one of the greatest exports of Sri Lanka, neither of them knew how to make a cup of tea! But they adapted to their new culture, they learned to fit in, they settled and they were happy.

Change can be scary and adapting to a new culture can be difficult, whether this is moving to a new firm, to a new city or to an entirely new country. While the magnitude of change may be different, the principles are very much the same. BCL Legal is made up of consultants who are experts in their fields. This is a very significant part of our culture and something that our candidates and clients can rely upon to ensure that when you make that move, scary as it may be, we can give you the tools and the advice to make sure that you can very happily and successfully adapt to your new culture.

For more information contact Gishan Abeyratne at BCL Legal.

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