Saleem Sheikh

Saleem Sheikh

Senior partner at GSC Solicitors

Having a vision and why you don’t need an overseas office to drive international work

You became senior partner in 2001 so what do you think have been the biggest changes to the legal sector during that time?
Over the past 15 years the legal sector has faced an increasing number of challenges. This has been mainly due to an evolving global economy as well as various external factors such as non-legal brands trying to enter the market and then manipulating the established reputations of operating practices. Clients have also become increasingly selective when choosing a firm.

All of this has meant that the legal sector has had to become more competitive and adapt to the new conditions.

Technology has also made its mark with firms having to reinvest in upgrading or implementing new IT and communications systems. However, on the flip side this also brought a number of opportunities such as new ways of communicating with various audiences and capitalising on mobile technologies.

How has the firm evolved and adapted to meet those changes?
We are a City-based law firm and therefore we are at the beating heart of a competitive environment. Relying on referrals to stay afloat is not sufficient anymore. If you want to prosper then you have to be more inventive and commercially-minded. We have focussed on several key areas, namely: delivering a better client experience; more targeted communications with various types of clients but with a tailored messaging; expanding on our professional networking; growing our strategic partnerships; and maximising the use of our social media and digital platforms. In other words, we have had to become more entrepreneurial in our thinking!

What do you most enjoy about your role?
From a business point of view, the most enjoyable aspect is when you see things working. This can be anything from a business opportunity that turned out to be a great success, or witnessing how strong the talent is within the firm. The latter really drives me as the team is very much like a family.

How would people describe your leadership style?
I am very easy to approach so people feel like they can always come and talk to me about anything; from their work to their personal lives. I am also very active in client work and am aware of the challenges and demands they face. I suppose you could say that I am hands on. However, at the same time, I am strategic and I believe that it’s part of my job to inspire my colleagues to ensure long-term success and to have a clear vision for the firm.

On that note, what is your vision for the firm?
The main focus is on growing and winning more work, it’s simple as that. I want GSC Solicitors to remain a successful commercial practice and become a more prominent ‘one-stop’ niche firm that delivers the very best client experience possible.

As a City-based firm, you have a strong presence in London but would you ever look to open in another country?
We are not planning on opening any offices abroad. However, our portfolio of international clients is growing fast, and this gives us instant exposure overseas. As a result, our reputation is expanding and this is helping to organically grow the amount of international work we do.

Who is a typical client to the firm?
I am pleased to say that there is no single type of GSC client. We are proud that we have achieved diversity in who comes to us as they include innovators and global brands; home grown and international entrepreneurs as well as family businesses. What unites them is an expectation that they will receive a first class service from a team who understands them and every part of their business.

What drives you personally?
That is a tough question but ‘success’ is the ultimate goal. I don’t just mean the firm being a financial success... it comes in many forms; from seeing an individual member of the team flourish and meet their own goals to securing a great outcome for a client. We are in business to make peoples’ lives better and I find this quite inspirational.

Can you sum up GSC in five words?
Speed. Standards. Expertise. Value. Trust.

What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
It has to be Mustique which is a small island in the Grenadines. Everybody likes a bit of sunshine, great food and a beautiful scenery but if on top of this you get privacy and interesting people to meet then it’s the winner. I am a father of three and Mustique has been our destination for many years now. We love the great history of the island too.