Can a Barrister Become a Partner in a Law Firm? – Sahar Farooqi – S4E4

In this episode of the Legally Speaking Podcast, Robert Hanna welcomed Sahar Farooqi onto the show to find out more!

Sahar is currently a Barrister and a Partner at DAC Beachcroft where he has co-founded 8 DAC Beachcroft Buildings, or 8DB, bringing the Bar into a law firm.

By bringing the expertise of barristers into law firms, he’s helping to provide better job security and prospects for these barristers, as well as bolstering both the service offering and revenue of law firms.

In this episode he explains more about the growing trend, including his reflections on co-founding DWF Advocacy (which is still going strong today). Also discussed is his time working in Malaysia and much more. 

Overall, topics discussed include:

  • How and why he co-founded DWF Advocacy
  • Why he enjoys being a Partner at DAC Beachcroft 
  • More on the advocacy division he leads within DAC Beachcroft (called 8DB)
  • Some key career challenges he’s faced and how he overcame them 
  • How he accidentally became a major LinkedIn influencer


Robert Hanna (00:00):

Welcome to the Legally Speaking Podcast. I’m your host, Rob Hanna. This week. I’m delighted to be joined by Sahar Farooqi. Sahar has recently joined as a partner with DAC Beachcroft in London and is building out a new advocacy service for the firm. His previous experience was working as a barrister, director, and co-founder of DWF advocacy. Whilst at DWF. He worked as a secondee barrister at Chooi and Company now known as CCA in Malaysia, focusing on international disputes and business development. He is passionate about all things in terms of access to the bar and sits on the scholarship committee of Gray’s inn. So a very warm welcome to him.

Sahar Farooqi (00:44):

Thanks for having me, Rob, I am excited to be here. You have some really, really cool names on the door so I’m proud to be on the list.

Robert Hanna (00:51):

No, it’s an absolute pleasure to have you on the show. And before we go through your amazing achievements and everything you have done to date, we do have a customary icebreaker question here on the show, which is, on the scale of 1 to 10, 10 being very real. How real would you rate the reality series suits?

Sahar Farooqi (01:12):

I would say a three over four on the basis that I would like to think that law firms and their recruitment processes are slightly better than suits which I am not sure Mike Ross would get through in the real world. And one of the things I have a big problem with when it comes to suits is this weird moment where you just march into another person’s office in another firm and throw down a file. As if that happens, as if you could actually even get into the building. That’s one of many, many problems with it. It’s a good for entertainment, but realism wise, yeah, it’s lacking a little bit.

Robert Hanna (01:49):

A little bit of Hollywood and entertainment goes, uh, goes a long way. So which legal TV show do you think is most like reality and why?

Sahar Farooqi (01:59):

They all have their flaws. I have to give that caveat. Um, but I always remember watching Silk with Maxine Peake. Um, and there were aspects of it that were unduly dramatized with the idea of counsel, just snorting cocaine in chambers is a bit detached from reality. But the actual courtroom scenes were really, from my recollection, pretty much on the money. And I say that because as a barrister watching a courtroom drama, you often get very frustrated because somebody’s court dress is out of wack. They are wearing their bands the wrong way around or they are wandering around court which we don’t do. Or they ask a question in cross examination which you think no barrister in their right mind would ever do that. Or they say things that you would not be able to do. I just remember as I watched that and I think at the time practicing in crime thinking yeah, they have obviously thought about this quite carefully because in general, court room scenes and the interaction between counsel and the Judge. They were technically pretty good. So I’d say Silks.

Robert Hanna (03:19):

That’s one I haven’t seen. So after this recording, I’ll be straight on to Google and, uh, giving that, uh, giving that a bit of a go. But yeah, thanks for sharing that. So let’s start at the beginning. Tell our listeners a bit about your family background and upbringing.

Sahar Farooqi (03:33):

So I’m the youngest of four children. My father moved to England in 1968 from Pakistan, he came with very little in his back pocket, but came to study. And in the late sixties, early seventies, successfully managed to qualify as a chartered accountant, which was a big, a big thing. So he comes from a very big family and he was the eldest son, so he was sending money back home whilst he was studying here. in the mid seventies, he married my mother and brought her across to England as well. And then they raised, as I said, four children of which I’m the youngest of two brothers and a sister in England. So Pakistani heritage born and raised, um, in the United Kingdom. But we were very much kept close to our culture. I’m kept close to our language, which is to say, we’ve never really swayed from, from that.

Sahar Farooqi (04:40):

Then it’s an important part of what I’m now teaching my children as well. My story is kind of a combination of things and you don’t want it to be a cliche. It’s not just child of immigrants, dumb goods. You know, like I can’t claim the, the story of, I think of somebody Um, whose father was a bus driver, as I said, my father was in professional services. Um, in accountancy, he worked very hard. And as a result of his, um, hard work, he sent his children to fee paying schools. So I had the benefit of, um, a very good private education, which inevitably gave me a whole raft of opportunities through that process. Uh, and after that process, I ended up, uh, at the University of Bristol where I studied Law. And after that I did the bar course. So it was pretty much straight through because I’d always been clear on the direction of travel if you like.

Sahar Farooqi (05:40):

And after bar school, there’s that kind of weird moment that a lot of barristers experience where you’re on the hunt for a pupillage, but a pupillage is just so difficult to get. So you’re doing, doing the rounds in that for a little bit, and it was during that period that in my first year of applying didn’t make it. And then I had some time between the first year, and the second year to apply again, I was really quite devastated at the time because I just assumed that that was really going to be it. Um, but in fact, it turned out to be one of the best things that have happened to me because in the intervening year I had a range of, of opportunities. I went and spent some time in Malaysia. I went on a moot tour of America with my inn, um, I worked for Serco doing, um, prosecutions in the magistrates’ courts, really gained a whole, whole lot of experience. And then when I got pupillage I was, I was ready for it. I was really presenting as a different candidate within that 12 month period, I imagine. So, yeah, that’s kind of a brief history of the personal and professional journey.

Robert Hanna (06:51):

Yeah. And thanks so much for, sharing that. And we’re going to dive into a little bit more of those experiences, um, later on, but one thing I wanted to ask before becoming, or sort of joining as a partner with DAC Beachcroft you worked, um, at DWF. So what was that like and how did you do that.

Sahar Farooqi (07:08):

The whole DWF thing was actually completely random. I was at the criminal bar at the time, and I had just started to try and diversify my practice because I was struggling a little bit financially and also emotionally with the work that, um, I was doing in crime. And I had started doing a bit of civil work, a bit of, um, immigration and a few other things at the time, of course I was complaining to my wife about the situation, but not really doing anything about it. As I remember, I was on my way home from I think it was Snaresbrook Crown Court and I got an email on my phone saying you’ve been selected for an interview. Um, at DWF. And I got home and I said to my wife it’s really bizarre, I just got this email from this law firm saying that they want me to come for an interview for an advocacy job. I was sort of proudly telling her that I must’ve been headhunted or something, um, to which wait, she said, no, um, you’re always going on about the situation you’re in so when I saw unless that job come up.

Sahar Farooqi (08:11):

I sent a CV in for it. That was, that was 2014. And I went along to this interview, which turned out to be for a purely civil role, they were looking for civil barrister. And the chair of the panels was a chap called Jonathan Robinshaw, who I’m now fortunate to call one of my best friends is the other co-founder of DWF advocacy. And now at DAC Beachcroft, what we are now calling 8DB, and he interviewed me. And if he tells the story, now he will tell you of someone who was coming across and presenting as, um, a really good advocate, but probably lacking in the basics of civil procedure. Um, having been in crime, as long as I had, um, they decided to offer me the role that was 2014 and I spent about 18 months or so, um, at DWF doing general civil work. So personal injury and occupational health disease work clinic, those sorts of things.

Sahar Farooqi (09:15):

It had always been my aspiration to move like that though, and to go into commercial litigation work, typically international arbitration is something that was really keen on doing. And as that 18 month period rolled on, and this is one of the benefits of being employed within a Solicitors firm as a barrister, I was able to network within the firm and came across some, some partners who took a shine to me and therefore were willing to instruct me and involve me in the type of work that I wanted to do. So by around the two year mark, I had started doing more broad sort of commercial practice and that very quickly became international arbitration. The first ever international arbitration that I got involved in was a very large case, worth hundreds of millions and it quickly saw us in Singapore for the final hearing, where I had an opportunity to actually do some advocacy, which is very, very rare, um, for commercial juniors to do advocacy in a setting like that.

Sahar Farooqi (10:22):

So that was my personal practice developing, but at the same time, DWF had, um, invested in this idea of an advocacy team that they then developed into something else. Um, and they asked myself and Jonathan to become directors of a separate company, which was, and I think still is, um, a wholly owned subsidiary of the group, um, DWF Advocacy Limited. So we set up this company as a vehicle to deliver advocacy services for the clients of the firm. Uh, and it was something that we enjoyed a great deal of success in. It worked for, um, the firm’s clients. It worked for the clients that we had, um, a way to attract into the firm as well. Uh, and it was a very successful model through which we trained a number of barristers. That’s probably the thing I’m most proud of that we set up the pupillage scheme as well.

Sahar Farooqi (11:21):

We trained four pupil barristers through that, and they gave us individually and collectively a platform to talk about ingenuity at the bar. That’s probably how I would classify it because the chambers model is one that everyone knows well and is highly respected for a reason, but the bar as a profession, which has existed for about 800 years or so, hasn’t always been the most immediate when it comes to embracing change. And I’m quite passionate given my ethnic background in particular to try and recognize where I can bring change to situations that are dominated by a particular kind of approach. So I was marrying some of those things together in that process and, um, that was where, where we took DWF advocacy to, um, we’ve got it to the point where it was a multidisciplinary, almost chambers where people were doing general civil work. We had, um, an assistant coroner who was doing, um, obviously coronial stuff and inquests. We had cost specialists. We had people doing commercial litigation and international disputes. So it was, it was a really interesting journey during which I had the opportunity to also go to a number of different countries, both explicitly on client instructions, but also for business development. So across Asia and, um, a few other countries as well in Europe that I was leading the last, I think two or three years, I was leading the Pakistan and Malaysia desks as well for the firm with sort of oversight for how we went about, um, developing, uh, our networks in those jurisdictions.

Robert Hanna (13:20):

Really interesting. Thanks so much for giving us lots of detail around that. I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t have known half of what you’ve managed to achieve, and it’s really nice what you mentioned there about particularly, the pupillage, and supporting, the junior aspiring barristers. So thanks so much for that. And just sticking with your, your journey we mentioned, and you touched on briefly you were a secondee barrister in Malaysia. What was that like? Tell us about that experience.

Sahar Farooqi (13:44):

Technically speaking, I think I have been a barrister sort of secondee in Malaysia twice or at least I did an internship in the first instance in maybe 2010 or something. I went out there and pursued a scholarship that I had from my inn to spend some time with Chooi and Company. And that was a great opportunity actually in that particular space in that moment. To spend time with a chap called Edmund Bon who was a Chairman in a Malaysian Human Rights Association and he was a partner at the firm. During my time there I was exposed to some of the work that he did. More generally some of the commercial work that the firm itself did and I made some life long friends amongst the partnership of the firm. But when the secondee internship ended, I stayed on and lived in Malaysia for the best part of a year.

Sahar Farooqi (14:48):

I had to have a lot of friends out there. So I came back and later on in the DWF journey that I’ve just described when I was approaching the sort of of setting up the Malaysia desk. Um, it made sense to give back to Chooi and Company and talk about how the two firms could work together, which is what we were doing for a while. And my initial secondment there, which I think would have probably been in 2015, 2016, something like that, was an opportunity just to reinvigorate some of my relationships there. Um, and then over the coming years, both firms worked together on a range of projects. As a country, Malaysia is just so close to my heart. As I say, some of my dearest friends are Malaysian. Um, I met a lot of Malaysians on, on the bar court. I had actually been to Malaysia before that as well, but it’s such a beautiful country, so diverse in so many ways. The people, um, in particular are also diverse just because what’s available anytime day or night on the street corner is an unimaginable indescribable symphony of flavors. That one just can’t find so readily in or without paying an awful lot. So highly recommend Malaysia, the experiences I’ve had that will always stay with me.

Robert Hanna (16:16):

Yeah. And I, I love what you mentioned there about the food, because yeah, I can definitely second that as a, as a foodie, um, it’s phenomenal. Okay. So we’ve talked a lot of positive things about your career, but you know, it’s, it’s not a straight line, any sort of legal career or barristers or solicitor of whatever it may be. What have been some of the major challenges for you that you’ve had to overcome throughout your career?

Sahar Farooqi (16:39):

It’s really tough when you talk about challenges, because in so many ways you just, you drive on and after a while kind of forget they happened because you’ll focus on the next project and the next challenge, they aren’t sort of insurmountable challenges that I’ve faced, obviously, because I’m, I’m sat here in a position of relative, uh, relative success from where I started anyway. But I think the primary challenge that I had to overcome first and foremost was something that so many people encounter and everyone encounters. And that’s just naysayers, people who thought that it was appropriate to go out of their way to tell me either that I was a moron or that I couldn’t achieve what I wanted to, that I lack the discipline, that I lacked, the intellect that I lacked, the ability, people who, for whatever reason and later on in life, you, you come to realize that people have specific reasons for why they may have said things in certain movements. Those people have just told me that it couldn’t be done.

Sahar Farooqi (17:48):

And actually I’m a big believer in the idea now that some people need to be told they can’t do it. I’m one of those people. If you tell me that I cannot do something, I will find a way to do it. If you tell me I can, it’s not really very interesting. So I’ve actually mentored some people who I have said that to before, not in a disparaging way, but more in a way that I know will push the right buttons with them. They wouldn’t understand that at the time, but they later come to understand it. And some of the people I’m talking about were doing things like that, and some of them weren’t. So naysayers is probably one of the biggest challenges because when you’re embarking on the idea of pursuing a career like a career at a bar, you have to be ready for rejection.

Sahar Farooqi (18:40):

It’s a constant theme, not just to the application process, but in life as a Barrister. I say this time and time again, to aspiring Barristers. Once you make it, you get rejected all the time. You’re instructing solicitor may reject the approach that you will be suggesting as appropriate. A judge may reject to your submissions and when they don’t, your opponent, is there to reject your position and your ideas and your submissions. So it is constantly fighting against that. Um, so you need to kind of have the wherewithal to, deal with those sorts of things. So if I look at the challenges as a whole then, I think it’s probably naysayers, is the one that, especially at a younger age, in hindsight, in retrospect, was a big achievement to overcome because a lot of people tell you, it can’t be done.

Robert Hanna (19:40):

I resonate with that so much throughout my career as well. So it’s so good that you’ve pointed that out. I can’t stress enough that you have to find a mechanism of blocking out naysayers. So many people have said to me throughout my career, or you shouldn’t start a business, you shouldn’t do this or this, that, and the other. I think if you, I, I’m similar in your, your mindset that if someone tells me I can’t do something to it, I find that extra, extra fire in my belly to find a way. So yeah, really love that answer and definitely resonate with that. Sticking with your career. Then you mentioned, you know, you were at a fantastic place, right, right. Right now with DAC and have achieved a lot, but for, from making that move, sort of how and why did you make the transition? Tell us a bit about that.

Sahar Farooqi (20:22):

So at the time of leaving DWF, um, I had been there about six and a half years, I think. Um, and the journey I’ve already described so we um, do a whole host of things, which I could never have imagined at the point when I signed up, as I said to you, that the role that my wife put me up for, um, was very different to the one that I ended up doing. And it’s a firm that, um, has a lot of, a lot of really strong qualities, a lot of really, really bright, hardworking lawyers amongst its members. Um, but for me, it was the first place I had ever been employed because I came from the self employed bar and we built something there. That was really cool. Um, and it’s been great to see that since we left those people, who’ve been tasked with driving it forward, are, are doing that and making a success of it.

Sahar Farooqi (21:21):

I’m sure they’ll, they’ll get from strength to strength. But for me, it was, I’ve only ever been employed by one place. I want to see what else is out there. And opportunity came knocking during the kind of height of, um, COVID I suppose, the initial year of COVID. if you can put it that way, given that we’re coming up to that sort of space. Now, I looked at it and thought to myself, there’s a lot that’s been achieved here. And there’s a lot that I’m grateful for, but there’s a world is, is a bigger place than, um, the one that I know and six and a half years to my mind is long enough to feel like you have learned something, you’ve offered something you’ve gained and given, and now it’s time to see what else you can, you can do and where else you can do it. It was with, with sadness, and such, great memories and real respect, for, um, so many people there. Um, so many people who’ve had a huge impact on my professional development. It was the right time for me, I think, to try something new.

Robert Hanna (22:33):

So let’s, let’s, let’s talk about that. Something new, um, you know, you are a partner with DAC. Tell us about your current role. What does a day in the life look like and how did you get to, to that point of becoming partner? Because lots of people will have aspirations of doing the same.

Sahar Farooqi (22:48):

Well, let’s just start by saying officially it’s DAC B. so the B is important and DAC Beachcroft when I joined, I did a post on LinkedIn about my memories of the firm, um, as an undergraduate, they sponsored the debating competition at my, uh, university, uh, by is named after a graduate. Who’s a partner in the firm, Lord Hunt Arthur Wirral. Um, and in that post, it was just talking about how, at that time, as an undergraduate, the solicitors that I met from the firm were keenly trying to encourage me to apply. And I said, no, you know, I’m focused on becoming a barrister. So I really liked the firm and I can see that it would be a good fit, but I’m going to go to the bar. I couldn’t really have imagined that 14, 15 years later, I’d be able to marry the two to have an opportunity to join.

Sahar Farooqi (23:45):

A firm that I have always liked. And the people I met were always great and welcoming, but to do that as a barrister, because that was one of my, my life goals back then, um, bars to partners was plenty of rarity. Um, so for me, it was really fortuitous to have this opportunity with DAC B because they are a firm that culturally is just perfect for where I am right now. You know, I’m 32 years old and what a bit of life experience under my belt, hopefully more to come than has passed already. But a firm that is now in a position of real financial strength, DAC B’s um, financial position, which is well documented in the legal press, um, is serious. They strong, which means that they are primed and ready to invest in innovation. And we represent, um, as a product, as an opportunity, when I say we not being sort of pretentious or grandiose down and referring to our services as barristers, we represent an innovation within a law firm, having the ability for law firms to offer their clients buyers to services, as well as the traditional to services is a big deal.

Sahar Farooqi (25:16):

And myself and Johnathan, who I mentioned earlier have experience, I would contend we have a market leading experience in delivering those services in such a way as effectively a hybrid. So we brought to the bar to this list is firm, and we’ve kind of sets up. This is chambers mobile. So looking at the ethos of the firm, looking at how they treat people, how they approach people, their values, and looking at their approach for me, which was important in relation to, um, equality and diversity, which is a really important and central value of the firm. And as I said, the financial position, it was just, it was just a really, really exciting opportunity. And, and the vision they pitched to us for where they see us going was just irresistible. It was just a really, really exciting opportunity and fundamentally a recognition that they see us as part of the future. They see us as people who have disrupted the market once, and they want us to take all of our learning and experience, uh, and help them, um, on a similar journey. Um, but do it in a way which reflects the ethos of the firm and their appetite and the direction of travel that they want to go. So having said all of the out loud, uh, if I wasn’t convinced before, just convinced myself again, that it is definitely the right thing to have done.

Robert Hanna (26:51):

Yeah, no, and I’m really excited to see all of the developments and where you go. I definitely think it’s cutting edge and definitely going to make a lot of ripples in the marketplace. Um, what do you most enjoy, um, about your current role? Is there a particular aspect you really enjoy?

Sahar Farooqi (27:08):

I enjoy the partnership management element of my role, um, an awful lot. And it’s one of the things that I really value about being at the employed bar, as opposed to being self employed. I’ve had a lot of opportunity to mentor and manage people, which is a big part of my personality. And one of the things that kind of drives me and makes me interested in the people that we hire and the people that we work with once you joined the partnership of a firm, it’s an opportunity, um, to really have a voice that sort of goes up and down. It can inform the way in which the really senior management are thinking about things and approaching things. And it can also inform and shape the careers of those, uh, associates and juniors and mentee’s and trainees and everyone else coming through. Um, and, and in our case, of course, the possibility of pupil barristers and an applicants. So I think one of the things I really enjoy is management and a big part of that as a partner is, having, having the voice and freedom of movement that, that comes with that to try and really help drive.

Robert Hanna (28:29):

Yeah, no, I love, I love that answer. And in terms of a sort of another topic that I think is increasingly more and more popular and important for legal professionals. So I understand you’re recently nominated by our friends, by the legal cheek, um, for your various contributions to social media, um, as a legal professional, I know you’re very big on, on LinkedIn. Do you think other legal professionals should utilize the platform? And if so, what tips or advice would you give to them, particularly keeping in mind what you said earlier about naysayers?

Sahar Farooqi (28:58):

Yeah. Well, if you talk to any of our staff, they’ll tell you that, um, I go to that LinkedIn too much, which is probably true. I don’t necessarily encourage people to use it in the way that I do, because I sometimes engage with topics, which I know are going to be something of a hot potato. And I’m also pretty confident in my ability to manage those I have had enough experience in dealing with trolls to, to not kind of get myself into sticky situations. So you need to be careful about, about how you, how you use the platform, but the reality is that it can be an enormously useful tool I got on to it because first and foremost, I wanted to understand a little bit about what it was then I realized I could achieve. One of the things that I really liked doing, which is engaging with students and aspiring barristers.

Sahar Farooqi (29:55):

And then I realized that actually it’s a really powerful marketing tool. And we’ve had loads of clients come in throughout the years hundreds of thousands of films with lots of instructions from, from LinkedIn in terms of tips. One of the things I’ve learned is that the most stale, the more corporate, um, your message is the less resonance it has, you have to be relatable. Otherwise, no one really pays much attention. So content, which is relatable that people can look at and say, yeah, you know, I have a view on that, or yes, I’ve experienced that is more likely to, then pull in other people. And then you start kind of sub discussions and engagements. And what you’ve got to do with each one of those public engagements with your post is decide whether it’s somebody who you then want to engage with privately, if you take it private, that’s really where the business end of LinkedIn is.

Sahar Farooqi (30:53):

You’ve got to do the followup and you’ve got to engage with people and find out what their business looks like, what sort of situation they’re in. Um, and in normal times, then there’s a, there’s a coffee and a chat in recent times it’s mean a virtual coffee, but you win, you win friendships, you win relationships. And then the work starts to blend, but fundamentally you’ve put yourself in a position where your forefront of their mind when they come to the question, or I need to instruct a barrister, or when they say I need a lawyer after this, Oh, there’s that, there’s that guy, what’s his name, white or two on LinkedIn. Let me see if he has someone that can help us. And it’s not just about my expertise. It’s about the expertise of all the people that I work with. And if you work in a law firm that has 2000 people, chances are that you’re going to be able to help them.

Sahar Farooqi (31:44):

Um, and that’s a really important aspect of it. Say relatable content is a big thing. And then there’s more subtle things about knowing how the, how the algorithm on LinkedIn works. Say, for example, LinkedIn in my experience tends to suppress reshares of content. If you want to reshare something the way to do it is to post a narrative about it. And then post the actual link in the comments. LinkedIn is designed, or the algorithm seems to reward new content and suppress resharing say, you have to kind of start getting into the vagaries and the subtleties of how the algorithm works to really begin harnessing the network. And I’m approaching 25,000 followers now. Um, and there’s a sustained level of engagement, which, which is really gratifying to see because you have to put in the work.

Robert Hanna (32:42):

Yeah. And I love those tips. I think what I’m from summarizing there and what you do. So, so well is you’re a human first and then, you know, a legal professional or barrister or a lawyer, whatever it might be, and people want to relate to the human. It’s not about pitching. Um, you know, you’re not pitching all of your legal services there. You’re, you’re really just documenting relatable content. So people get to know you. Um, and it’s great that you get such engagement and doing such a great job for the legal community. But what I’d also say to people starting out on LinkedIn is, you know, likes and things like that. It just like vanity of turnover. It doesn’t matter. It’s about net profit. It’s about those discussions. Like you’ve said offline, if you get one good person, prospect, that’s engaging with your content and that could be helpful, then that’s, that’s a great start. So I guess you would say the same to encourage people that are worried about imposter syndrome or my post only gets a certain amount of likes. Yes, that’s great. And it shows that you’re liked, but actually it’s the overall quality of the people in your ecosystem that could lead to, to those discussions. So love everything you’re saying,

Sahar Farooqi (33:45):

Being it’s being, being human you’re right. But it’s also being vulnerable. Um, people identify with vulnerability because everybody, everybody is vulnerable to a certain point, um, being willing to discuss situations that you have experienced that make you vulnerable or have made you vulnerable. People recognize that as, um, being brave and they respond to that, then it’s rewarding. But as you say, as well, it’s not, it’s not necessarily about, about likes. It’s about sometimes it’s about views as well. So you can see the analytics behind the post. Um, you know, I, I posted a few weeks ago, I posted an excerpt from one of my school reports in which I was slated by my headmaster. Um, and my housemaster, I think there was a line in there, something along the theme of just generally lazy and kind of unpredictable. And it wasn’t going to squander his future that sort of sentiment.

Sahar Farooqi (34:44):

And a few weeks later I was on a totally unrelated call with someone I had never met before. He was a prospect. And in the middle of the call, someone made a comment about something and this person piped up with, Oh, I read your school report the other day. And then we had a conversation about that. You never know who’s seeing it, but before you walk into, in this case, a virtual room, because you’ve put yourself out there, people feel like they know a bit about you and they feel like you are bringing it back around to what you were saying, kind of humanized by the fact that you put yourself out there. Yeah.

Robert Hanna (35:21):

And that’s a great example once again, of, you know, and that’s the industry shift, in my opinion, people of your seniority, you know, producing that sort of content, allowing yourself to be opened up to vulnerability, you know, everyone had to start somewhere. Um, so yeah, I just love all of that. So it’s going to be truly inspiring to lot of people listening in, and just a couple of final questions from me. And I know these are a couple of things we’ve already likely touched on, but that they’re passions for you and very important topics. And one of those is social mobility and access to the bar. What more do you think needs to be to be done? What are some of the practical changes that you’re frustrated with that you would like to see change?

Sahar Farooqi (35:59):

That’s a big, big question. That’s going to take several hours to, to address. I want to be positive about it. And I am also positive about it, because the powers that be within or just evolve or the legal profession as a whole, if not the country and the world as a whole are gradually changing their mindset and recognizing that something really has to be done about the lack of diversity in certain areas and the value that diversity brings to that. Similarly, I think there is an increasing recognition of the fact that social mobility is incredibly important for, for the future, so although I said at the start, you know, I had the benefit of private education. It doesn’t mean that those benefits should be something that I take and then keep exclusive, hold on. My education means that I’m able to engage with the world around me and understand some of the things that are problematic, which is why I really firmly believe that when we run our recruitment processes, we’ve just run a large one in the last couple of weeks, we have to be institutionally blind because unconscious bias is a real problem and it gets in the way of social mobility.

Sahar Farooqi (37:19):

So if I didn’t know where someone went to school or university or anything like that, it prevents me from thinking about it and just focuses on their grades and their potential for practicing as a barrister. I’m talking of course about, um, entry level roles in this context. So I think those are the types of things that needs to be done. Then I don’t understand why they aren’t uniform. Um, it frustrates me, I don’t know what anybody’s is frightened of by simply entertaining an applicant on the merit of what they’ve achieved and how they present, where they achieve those things is irrelevant. And I feel that there is still too much emphasis on things like that. Um, and if you begin kind of taking away those sorts of things. So again, by redacting names in the paper sift process, you’re also taking away unconscious bias, normally around gender, but also occasionally about ethnicity as well. You’ll removing those types of things that get in the way. And I would love to understand and hear from someone who tells me that now I need to know that this person went to a red brick university to be able to assess them because I’d love to convince them of the country.

Robert Hanna (38:49):

Yeah, no really fair, valid point. So well, summed up. I think that’s definitely, um, an important topic and these things, you know, we could speak for it for hours and hours and hours, but I think thanks for kind of summarizing that. So you mentioned a little bit earlier, um, at one point around 8DB, can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Sahar Farooqi (39:09):

Yeah, absolutely say 8DB stands for eight DAC Beachcroft buildings, which is the name that we have given to, um, our advocacy product or, um, for want of a better expression our chambers style service that we’ve, we’re rolling out at DACB. So 8DB is the specific name for the service, um, and it will house within it, all of the barristers, clerks, um, solicitor advocates, advocates who undertake, um, that type of work for the clients of the, firm as well as clients and solicitors from, from other firms and outside the firm as well.

Robert Hanna (39:59):

Super interesting. And I love that name and that link. So yeah, someone far smarter than me, came up with that. Okay. And on the theme of, of sort of marketing media and being well-recognized, I understand yourself and Jonathan, um, authored an article in CounselMagazine recently, do you wanna tell us a bit about that?

Sahar Farooqi (40:19):

Yeah, so the Counsel Magazine article was just an opportunity we had with obviously a publication that is directed largely at that whose readership is largely comprised of barristers and what we are doing in the legal industry. What we’re doing with 8DB is something of a disruptor. And everyone is familiar with the concept of an employed barrister to everyone is familiar with the concept of an advocacy unit or an advocacy team within a firm, but this kind of hybrid model that we’ve created and that we planted over the last six, seven years, and that we are now rolling out. Um, and in some ways reimagining is of interest to the bar. Um, and that magazine was the appropriate platform to discuss some of the history of the journey, but it will say the vision for it, how it’s different, why we think it’s going to be a big part of the future, the professionalism.

Robert Hanna (41:36):

Great. Sounds really interesting. Finally, in terms of leaving, um, a bit of inspirational thinking to particularly aspiring barristers or even junior barristers that are trying to navigate through their careers, what sort of top tip would you give to them? Or maybe even people undertaking pupillages.

Sahar Farooqi (41:54):

A single tip is probably probably tough. Um, because in that journey there is so many different things that you experience. But I suppose if I, if I look at myself, um, my own journey, uh, and, and I look back on it, the thing that stands out to me is keeping an open mind. I was absolute tunnel vision, probably from the moment I started as an undergraduate that I was going to be a barrister. And as a result of that, I had a really fixed notion about what a barrister does where they do their work, how they do their work, how they live, how that paid all of these sorts of things, which were really kind of odd and archaic notions. And, uh, 19, the thought that I understood any aspect of the legal profession, less alone, exactly how I wanted my career to look is ludicrous.

Sahar Farooqi (42:53):

And it was only as time went on. And I think my mind was closed. I have to say, but as people forced me to open my mind to different possibilities and the employed bar, it really changed my own perception of how my career could look. If I spoke to that 19 year old, the idea that, um, I could be a partner in a law firm would make no sense to him. And it only made sense, um, as, as the journey progressed and as my mind opened. And I thought there’s other possibilities here because yes, I love the day job. I love being in court. I love cross examining witnesses, making, making speeches is, is a hell of a lot of fun. Um, and it is definitely a part of what I like doing, but honestly, like being involved in a mentoring and management and strategy around finance and governance, and this is an opportunity to do all of those things. So as a person, I get one shot at life. I would like for it to at least represent the majority of my skillsets rather than just one. And if I didn’t have an open mind, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. So if you put a gun to my head, then I’d say, keep an open mind.

Robert Hanna (44:13):

Yeah. And what a, what a great way to, to finish up. And it’s it, that’s evidence everything that you’re doing now with your current role, with the 8DB and with what you’re doing in terms of online. So love everything about that. So I’m sure you would have inspired a number of people today that have listened to us. So if people want to, or get in touch

Robert Hanna (44:32):

With you about anything we’ve discussed today, what’s the best way platform to do that? Feel free to shout out any web links or relevant social media channels that you use.

Sahar Farooqi (44:41):

Probably the, the easiest way, um, is, is through LinkedIn. I don’t really use other social media mainly because I don’t understand that. And I need to, I need to get better with things like Instagram and Twitter. I do have a Twitter account, but it’s essentially dead. So it’s probably either LinkedIn or it’s always easy to contact my clerks, their email addresses just

Robert Hanna (45:07):

Great stuff. Well, thanks. So, so much for coming on the show, it’s been a real pleasure having you on, um, from all of us on the Legally Speaking Podcast, we wish you lots of continued success with your career, but for now over and out, Thank you for listening to this episode of the legally speaking podcast. If you enjoyed the show and want to help support us, remember to leave us a rating and review on Apple iTunes, you can also support the show and gain exclusive benefits, bonus content, or much more by signing up to our Patreon page, which is Thanks for listening.

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