Adnan Shafi’s journey into law

We caught up with Adnan, who joins us in 2024 as a Trainee Solicitor to find out more about what drew him to a legal career, what his aspirations are and what he is looking forward to most about training with the firm.

What drove you to pursue a career in Law?

I have always been interested in policy and public speaking. This quickly developed into a passion when I began to participate in Model United Nations and debate. It was here that I grew to enjoy the nature of negotiations, drafting and public speaking. I would eventually come to learn that these activities were a core part of the legal profession.

I took an interest in commercial law after founding a consultancy group during sixth form. I enjoyed advising start-ups on how they could maximise their business’ potential. My role also involved instructing lawyers on different matters and one day I attended a meeting at one of Africa’s largest law firm’s offices to seek some legal advice for the group. The associates advising us displayed a high level of multidimensional thinking and this impressed me. They also spoke to us about how they were advising on some of the largest deals in South Africa’s history at the time. I was drawn to their work as it involved solving complex problems and creating impact on an international scale. In my current role as a legal assistant at Pfida, I pursued my interest further. During negotiations, I grew to love interpreting contractual amendments, analysing the associated risks and observing how both sides in a negotiation came to a compromise.

These positive experiences helped solidify my decision to pursue a career in commercial law.

What are your career aspirations?

At the moment, I am unsure of which practice area I want to qualify into. However, I have a very clear vision of the kind of lawyer I want to be. As a starting point, I would like to be the type of lawyer that both colleagues and clients can rely on. In commercial law, the stakes are often very high. Therefore, being a safe pair of hands is highly valued and what I aspire to be.

I also aim to leave a legacy in my sector of work. Whether that be the creation of a new legal structure that solves a certain problem or by being a significant contributor to changes in market practice. In this way, I will not only be able to practise the law, but change how it is practised.

Adnan Shafi

Lastly, I strive to be a door opener for candidates from diverse backgrounds looking to break into the legal industry. As a Black African Muslim and an international student, I fully understand the challenges involved in successfully reaching the early stages of a legal career in the UK. As a result, I aim to help others avoid the mistakes I have made and encourage them to continue reaching for greatness in the legal field.

What made you choose Foot Anstey and what are you most excited about?

Two things draw me to Foot Anstey. The first is the firm's entrepreneurial spirit and the second is the level of responsibility that trainees are virtually guaranteed during their Training Contract. 

At Foot Anstey, everyone is given a level of entrepreneurial freedom that rarely manifests itself at other firms. This has resulted in the firm building an internationally recognised Islamic Finance team and a space and satellite team that is serving clients at the forefront of the industry. For a national firm like Foot Anstey, this type of business strategy is frankly unheard of. It breaks with tradition. For me as an incoming trainee, it means both interesting and unique work to get involved with when I get started.

Moreover, the firm enables trainees to work within client matter teams, enabling you to play an active role in delivering client work. At some firms, it often is the case that you may get washed away in a sea of other trainees without seeing variation in the tasks you are set. At Foot Anstey, it’s the complete opposite. As someone who is eager to take ownership of my work and contribute, I am excited about this rare opportunity.

What advice would you give to others who are interested in a legal career?

The most important thing I’ve learned to date is to take control of your legal journey. How much you learn and progress is entirely in your hands. If you’re interested about an area of law, read about it. Don’t wait to get to university or to do a postgraduate course to quench any intellectual thirst you have about an area or concept. This way, you become accountable. Not to your university or your professor, but yourself.

Another piece of advice I would give any candidates is to be confident. Don’t reject yourself before they do. I remember hesitantly emailing the chief legal officer at a start-up I admired to ask for an internship, the usual negative ‘what if’ thoughts still floating around in my head. Now he is my manager. This is the same confidence that encouraged me to apply to Foot Anstey and despite the occasional self-doubt, continue forward. Although rejections are guaranteed, so is permanent failure if you do not have the confidence to continue putting yourself out there. You’re much better than you think!

Another piece of advice I would give any candidates is to be confident. Don’t reject yourself before they do.

Adnan Shafi