This week, we were delighted to be joined by Mandeep Kaur Virdee.
Mandeep has achieved a huge amount of success in her legal career to date. Mandeep qualified in 2011 and within just 8 years successfully runs her own law firm in Heart of the City of London. Today, Mandeep operates as the Managing Partner of KaurMaxwell, whilst managing family life having recently become a first-time Mother.
Under Mandeep’s leadership, KaurMaxwell, has gone from strength to strength growing exponentially year on year! It’s incredible what Mandeep has managed to achieve in such a short space of time.
Here are 3 reasons why you should listen to the full episode:
- Learn how Managing Partner Mandeep set up her own law firm.
- How to juggle being a 1st time mother and lawyer.
- The importance of networking.
Mandeep’s journey into the law:
- Mandeep did not always want to be a lawyer – she decided to as a rebel choice.
- Mandeep trained in insolvency and restructuring, which she enjoys because it involves taking a situation and seeing it from a different perspective to others.
- Now, she does a lot of cross-border litigation all over the world, which she views like playing chess – on a global scale, it is playing with different rules, personalities and places.
- She describes how she has to deal with everything without taking it for granted, whether that be an email or arranging a phone call, as it all makes a difference in how relationships are built.
What previous roles of Mandeep have prepared her for setting up her own firm?
- Mandeep recounts how she was Head of the Department at Newmans for 5 and a half years.
- She was given this opportunity at a young age, which she did not feel ready for but was encouraged by others, and now she looks back on it as her best experience.
How did Mandeep set up her own law firm?
- Mandeep was in a practice, and the senior partner, who was the sole owner of the practice, became unwell.
- Instead of going on maternity leave like Mandeep should have, the partner told her he was closing the practice down.
- Whilst being 7 months pregnant, Mandeep went for a couple of interviews and found that they were treating her differently because of her pregnancy, asking questions like ‘How long are you going to take on maternity leave?’
- After her 2nd interview, Mandeep had a conversation with her husband, who encouraged her to take over the business.
- She made an application to the SRA, got authorisation, professional indemnity insurance, and started her own firm.
- Mandeep describes that year of her life as the hardest, having felt like she gave birth to two babies – one being the firm, that also needed nurturing.
- She details how she went from being an individual who was living a selfish lifestyle and just an employee to learning how to be a manager and taking care of a child.
- Mandeep’s goal was to go back to basics, with KaurMaxwell being a service-based industry.
- She believes that it is their responsibility to ensure they follow through on the whole process so they make sure the customer journey is something which is easy and understandable.
- The firm respects that people are coming in at a difficult time and are aware of this.
What leadership qualities does Mandeep think are needed to run a successful law firm?
- Mandeep stresses the importance of listening to her staff, being aware of what is around her, being flexible, and being willing to take on ways that are not her own.
- From being a mother, Mandeep has learnt that everything is temporary – she balances the idea that there will be a better day when she is struggling.
- She suggests having self-confidence and self-trust in every step that is made.
- Mandeep runs the firm with complete transparency to get the staff’s input so that they feel like they are a part of every decision that is being made.
What has Mandeep learnt from being a mother and running a firm?
- Mandeep admits she has struggled a lot with both roles since they are polar opposites, so she erases the thinking of one or the other as it is not humanly possible to do both.
- She was trying to do both for a long time, keeping up the standard of a mother and lawyer.
- She decided to create her own space, and despite not networking as much as she used to, Mandeep finds when she does network now, it is more productive than before.
- She has made this her norm and recognises it is the best that she can offer.
- One thing which Mandeep wants her daughter to understand is that she made this decision for her because she does not want to be the person who is not standing by what she believes in.
- Mandeep learnt that she could not be the same kind of boss she was as Head of the Department and partner at her previous firm.
- She advises anyone starting their own firm to ensure it makes sense commercially, to understand the risk and to be prepared to make it work.
How important is it to have a support network?
- Mandeep details how crucial it is to have a support network in her family and at her work too.
- She recognises that by being transparent, she does not have to convince people to be a team player.
- She describes watching her team grow as a real joy, and she could not have asked for a better team.
- Mandeep admits how difficult she finds it to ask for help, but her team have been supportive throughout, even when she brings her daughter to the office.
Mandeep and networking as a mother:
- Before having her daughter, Mandeep was a ‘serial networker’, establishing a strong network of lawyers, accountants, insolvency practitioners and business owners.
- After setting up her firm, Mandeep received feedback saying they knew she would set up one day, even when she did not know that herself.
- Mandeep ensures she has aims and objectives for each meeting, and her style of networking has changed.
- She remains that having a presence in the relevant circles is necessary, but perhaps not as much time needs to be spent on them.
- Mandeep reckons that a lot of people at networking events hide behind their titles, as she did before.
How has Mandeep’s firm embraced legal tech?
- KaurMaxwell uses Slack, an encrypted messaging system, which can be used to create groups or channels to keep inboxes clear.
- Mandeep is in the process of introducing an app.
- The firm is looking to grow its team, and they are currently on a growth development upcycle.
- They are looking at what the market needs and managing what work they have since they are receiving larger cases coming into 2020.
5 powerful quotes from this episode:
- “I want to tell people you can do it”.
- “Just be prepared like any business owner to really put your skin in the game to really make it work”.
- “The one thing I want my daughter to understand in many years to come is that I made this decision for her because I don’t want to be the person who isn’t standing by what I believe in and if she was in the predicament I was in, I would say to her you can do it and you just have to figure out a way to do it and leading by example is what I wanted to teach her”.
- “… I couldn’t have asked for a better team they have been unbelievable and every single day watching them grow and watching them become better lawyers and better team members it is just an absolute joy to see that…”.
- “Sometimes it’s hard to ask I’m not someone who can ask for help at all so for me it was like oh my god I don’t have a choice I have to actually reach out and it took a lot for me to do that…”.
If you wish to connect with Mandeep, you may reach out to her on LinkedIn.
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To learning more about the exciting world of law, Robert Hanna and the Legally Speaking Podcast Team.
Disclaimer: All episodes are recorded at certain moments in time and reflect those moments only.
[0:00:00] Rob Hanna: This week, I am thrilled to be joined by Mandeep Kaur Virdee, who has achieved a huge amount of success in her legal career within such a short space of time. Mandeep qualified in 2011 and within just 8 years successfully runs her own law firm in Heart of the City of London. Today, Mandeep operates as the Managing Partner of KaurMaxwell, whilst managing family life having recently become a first-time Mother. Under Mandeep’s leadership, KaurMaxwell, has grown year on year exponentially! It’s incredible what Mandeep has managed to achieve in such a short space of time! So welcome Mandeep.
I must start by asking the all-important question, as it is customary our Legally Speaking Podcast as people want to hear first-hand from you real life legal professionals, “On the scale of 1 – 10 with 10 being very real…how real do you rate the hit TV series Suits?”
[0:01:00.4] Mandeep Kaur Virdee: Interesting question, I think in terms of office politics, I think depending on which firm you are at, probably pretty close. In terms of the back hand deals and convenient relationships everyone seems to have with each other in Suits, I would probably rate in closer to 2. I don’t think that’s realistic. All the same it is really interesting.
Yeah, I think that’s probably fair. I think some people are going for 10 accepting there’s a bit of Hollywood in it, or more real-life lawyers are saying it’s probably 1 or 2. So I think its averaging out in the middle. Today I’m really excited because you and I have known each other and followed each other careers throughout London, but we are talking about “Managing Partner Goals” with the view to inspiring others to emulate all of your successes. Having just qualified in 2011 and reaching the heights of owning your own firm and running your own firm whilst balancing family life I think a lot of people would want to try get to that level. So, I guess we need take a step back before that so did you always want to be a lawyer?
Yeah, so you wanted to be an accountant rather than a lawyer, which is quite interesting as you speak to a lot of accountants that want to be lawyer, there we go vice versa. There we go, so you are in law and you are doing very well.Which areas of the law do you most enjoy and why? As you have quite a broad practice.
[0:02:42.1] Mandeep Kaur Virdee: I do, so I trained and grew up Insolvency and restructuring, that’s always been my love. I genuinely enjoy and still enjoy every single day I do my job and it really doesn’t feel like a job for that reason. The thing that I enjoy the most about insolvency and restructuring is that you take a situation, and you don’t see it in the same way someone else might you see the good and the bad and what things are stopping it growing, you can restructure it, you can flip it you can do something with it and save what you can. Obviously, the bonuses are saving brands, saving jobs and so on. But also, I have ended up venturing into litigation, so I do a lot of litigation now. I do a lot of cross border litigation, doing a lot all over the world, which is fun, but it is a bit mental I have to say.
[0:03:36.5] Rob Hanna: In what sense, why is it so mental for you?
[0:04:27.7] Mandeep Kaur Virdee: I would say it would probably have to be Newmans, so I was head of department at Newmans for 5 and a half years and I was given that opportunity as a platform at a very young age, probably 26 or 27, I didn’t think I was prepared for it, but the people who pushed me to do it obviously felt that I was. So that was probably my best experience.
[0:05:13.3] Mandeep Kaur Virdee: Well, what happened was, I ended up in a situation where I was in a practice and the senior partner was the sole owner of the practice became quite unwell and instead of me going on maternity leave like I should have been at around 7 months pregnant he told me he was closing the practice down, so I had a decision to make at the time. It was just before Christmas, actually this time of year just makes me think back to 2 years ago when this happened, and I remember being absolutely ginormous I couldn’t even get in London I was so heavily pregnant it was unreal. I had mediations case hearing coming up over the period that I was away, the last thing I thought of was hold on a second let me find another job and move myself and my staff and so on. So, I still tried, I went for a couple of interviews and I was sitting there and I thought, they kept asking me over and over again and being completely brutally honest this kept happening and as much as I’d like to say we have come away from that mentality that women and men are treated equally, you can’t hide from the fact that someone who is 7 months pregnant is sitting in front of you and think they won’t treat you differently because they absolutely were. The conversation mostly surrounded ‘how long are you going to take on maternity leave?’ ‘what if things don’t go to plan?’ things that as a first-time mother you are already nervous about, you don’t really know how you are going to be when you are having a baby. You are obviously praying everything is fine, but at 7 months pregnant I was under so much stress and I was just worrying about everything all the time, not sleeping, I was worrying about my cases. Having taken on cases I really do sense that responsibility and I was never that lawyer that could go oh well it doesn’t matter its someone else’s problem. So, I had a conversation with my husband after my second interview and he isn’t a lawyer and he said to me if you weren’t pregnant right now what would you do? I said well id take over the business and he said just do it and we will figure it out. I said but how? We are going to be parents for the first time, we don’t even know what that’s going to be like, and you are telling me to start a law firm. It probably caused arguments for about 2 weeks, like how dare you say that to me, why? And he was like I am encouraging you because I know you can do it. So, to be fair I wasn’t positive about it, but I was just like let’s see how it goes. I made the application to the SRA and every single step of the way I said if it is meant to be it will go in my favour and yeah so at 8 months pregnant now, because everything was happening so quickly it was December my daughter was supposed to be born in January. Nothing went to plan like it should of, but it all fell in its own place. Ended up getting authorised by the SRA, got insurance, professional indemnity insurance, basically managed the other firm, started my own firm, went off and had a baby, came back.
[0:14:52.3] Rob Hanna: Which is good point. You touched on it there about finding the balance of being a first-time mother and running a firm. What’s tips would you give people who take your route or decide to do it? Other than you saying probably don’t do it?
I knew you were going to set it up.