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Achieving partnership at a boutique

Although the transition to partner can be daunting, this Hazelbrook Legal partner said that for him, putting a plan in place and sticking to it has helped him overcome challenges and reach his goals.

user iconLauren Croft 05 October 2023 SME Law
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Aabid Farouk is a partner at award-winning law firm Hazelbrook Legal. Speaking on a recent episode of The Boutique Lawyer Show, he reflected on the transition to partnership and overcoming challenges along the way.

Mr Farouk joined Hazelbrook Legal in 2017 and wasn’t originally sure if he wanted to go down the partnership track or go in-house – but he eventually became a partner in February this year.

“It’s been very enjoyable and rewarding. And why I say that is that once you do become partner, it becomes more than day to day getting on the tools and doing legal work. There are a lot of other aspects about client management: internally managing your team, trying to motivate them, [and] getting the best out of the team. There’s obviously the financial aspects. And then you’re also given the chance to contribute towards the broader strategy of the firm,” he said.


“But as a partner, you have to get yourself out there, you have to build those personal relationships, those client relationships. And so, a challenge for me was really getting comfortable with that and doing that a bit more often and also just stepping back and having a think about whether this is something I really need to be doing. Or is this something that my team can be helping me with when it comes to sort of the bread and butter, sort of drafting, advising work so that you can spend more of your time as a partner on the more complex work?”

Although the move to partner has been “very exciting and satisfying” after dedicating a lot of energy and time to achieving goals and milestones along the way, there have also been numerous challenges Mr Farouk has grappled with.

“You may get curly questions, or you’d be in negotiations with other lawyers. And it’s just being able to sort of back yourself and just getting on the front foot with some of those things. And I guess the second aspect, which I just alluded to a bit earlier, is, again, getting out there and building those client relationships. You can’t be stuck behind your computer all day,” he added.

“You need to get out there, you need to engage with your clients, you need to really build that network and take a genuine interest in your clients and their business, which gets quite hard to do, especially as you get busier. But you do need to just take the time, put your head up, think about those broader matters rather than just your next task.”

To get on the partnership track and eventually achieve it, Mr Farouk said that having a plan in place is key.

“Once I expressed a desire to pursue partnership [at Hazelbrook], the criteria and what I had to do was pretty clear. And I think once you have some direction, you know what you need to do, then it falls on you to really make a plan for yourself to write that down. For example, practically speaking, we’re required to build those client relationships, bringing that work,” he added.

“And so, what I did at a practical level was identify a bunch of targets that I’d like to have as a client and set down a strategy. And then just diarising a portion of having in your diary set times or set times in a week where you’re going to dedicate to sort of achieving or undertaking these tasks, reaching out to new targets, keeping in touch with existing clients. So yeah, that’s from a practical level, how I approach that client engagement and relationship management piece.

“I guess if there’s a bit of ambiguity as to what one needs to do to achieve that milestone in partnership, it certainly is you need to take it upon yourself to clarify that and get a better understanding. And likewise, if there are things that you need to be doing that you think you need to upskill on, or someone in your team or your network is good at, then I would recommend you reach out and ask for advice.”

Going through this process, Mr Farouk learnt a number of lessons, including the importance of good communication skills.

“Communication with clients is just so important. So, when they give you something or when you’re tasked with something, it’s keeping them up to date. Letting them make sure that whatever you’re delivering meets their requirements and really putting yourself in their shoes,” he added.

“And similarly, internally, it’s communicating with your team, motivating them, checking in and seeing if they need any help. So yeah, communication, I think, is a big one. Another big piece is if you’re thinking about stepping up from sort of a mid-level to senior associate and indeed even senior associate to partnership. But if you want to be at that next level, you should start sort of acting or carrying out or, I guess, performing at that level of what you’re trying to meet.”

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Aabid Farouk, click below: