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Meet the lawyer

Zoya Khan

Zoya Khan

University: University College London
Degree: Bachelor of Laws, LLB Law
Year of qualification: March 2020
Position: Associate
Department: Commercial real estate
Pronouns: She/her

What attracted you to a career in law?

This might sound cliché, but I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was a child. My grandad worked as a legal assistant and as a child I was exposed to lots of different legal terms. This exposure triggered an interest in the law and encouraged me to study law at university and ultimately become a lawyer.

What do you think made your application successful?

I spent a few years applying for training contracts before I was eventually successful. I think my application stood out more once I was able to display my transferable skills; these were not necessarily all from law-related experiences but I identified several transferable, and relevant, skills from all types of work experience I had completed. It's important that you can show how your transferable skills relate to the role of a solicitor and why they'll help you to become a successful lawyer.

Which department did you train in?

At Gowling WLG, I used six months of my paralegal experience to reduce my training contract to 18 months. I completed three seats: the first was in commercial real estate, my second seat was split between employment law and pensions and my final seat was a client secondment with Transport for London (TfL).

What do you wish you’d known about being a trainee before you started that you now do?

I wish I'd known that you’re not expected to complete all your tasks as fast as a qualified solicitor might. Had I known this, I wouldn’t have spent time worrying about how time-consuming a task was!

Please outline your area of expertise. What might you do in a typical day?

As a commercial real estate associate, each day is different depending on what I’m working on. As a generalisation I usually keep a to-do list on varying matters that I have (either independently or as a project with the team). In the morning, I'll look at my list to prioritise and check deadlines, I also read my emails in the morning, address any queries that come in and draft documents. It's important that I'm able to be flexible with phone calls and emails that come in because they may need to take priority over other tasks.

Please discuss a current case, outlining your role in the matter.

As part of a redevelopment project, Gowling acted for the developer that is forming a joint venture with TfL and has bought a site. My role involved compiling executive summaries, carrying out the title investigation, looking at development constraints and issues that need to be resolved before development can begin as well as assisting with the forward funding documentation.

What makes your firm stand out from the rest?

Gowling’s friendly culture is what makes it stand out – everyone at the firm is incredibly down-to-earth and humble.

What is the work/life balance like at your firm? How often do you have late nights/work at weekends?

In real estate, you’re busy throughout the day until 7:00pm. We have a good work-life balance, but this is caveated with the fact that when you work for a commercial law firm it's likely that you'll experience long hours. I haven’t had to work many late nights – these are required only when there are tight deadlines and you won’t be working alone because the whole team will be working late with you.

What is the wider culture like?

We have a woman’s network at the firm called Thrive, a Black Asian and Minority network and a network called OpenHouse which is the LGBT+ group – Gowling allows you to be a part of any one of those or all of them if these are aspects of the business you want to get involved with. We also have a network called Enable which is for people with disabilities and colleagues who want to be allies.

Employees can join one of the many sports teams too; these are great for keeping active. We're also encouraged to take on pro-bono work!

Visit LawCareers.Net's Diversity Hub, sponsored by Gowling WLG

What’s the biggest opportunity you’ve been given since joining the firm?

The biggest opportunity was my client secondment with TfL; it was insightful and provided huge exposure to really interesting work. I've also been asked and trusted to run projects and deal with matters on my own, which is always rewarding.

What’s your guilty pleasure?