Rashda has extensive experience in international legal practice gained across the UK, Europe and Australia, representing and advising clients in a broad range of contentious and non-contentious multi-party matters including joint venture and partnership disputes. She has advised on and conducted major commercial, banking, insurance, insolvency, maritime, tax, regulatory and construction & infrastructure litigation, arbitration and mediation involving wide ranging issues. She also has significant in-house experience at one of the world’s leading project management, design and construction companies. Here, she shares her insights on recent experiences as an Obelisk consultant.
Can you describe your work experiences through Obelisk?
I took an assignment with a client in March 2019 and following a number of extensions, I’m still there! I’m a commercial/construction/infrastructure specialist and being in the thick of it with a large property development & construction company in the UK has been very rewarding. The challenges presented have also been to some extent of a unique kind, especially in 2020. I have very broad responsibilities covering work for the group, individual business units, front-end and disputes, strategic and pure legal.
What makes your expertise unique?
I think I am a rare breed of lawyer in that I have worked in every facet of the law in that I have been (and still am) a barrister, I’ve been a partner in a mid-tier law firm, I’ve been adjunct professor teaching law, I’ve been GC at a global property development & construction company (Lend Lease), I’ve practiced in multiple jurisdictions and took silk in a different jurisdiction to my original one (original E&W, silk in NSW, Australia), I have sat and still sit as an international arbitrator and am a non-executive director at a university and an NHS Trust! That wide ranging experience has given me rare insights into how the commercial world operates.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of flexible working as a lawyer?
I’ve always been self-employed and flexible working has to some extent been how I have operated in my myriad roles. What flexibility allows is the chance to order one’s life more to suit you and to be able to deal more effectively with the demands on one’s time and energy.
Only more recently, I’d say that the necessity of working from home has created a few challenges in the context of not having the usual physical interaction with your client. Like most people working in an agile environment, my flexible working entailed working from home, going to different client offices and external advisers. This level of interaction provided the opportunity to build a rapport with different stakeholders effectively and efficiently. It helps to build trust and confidence. That dynamic may have been taken for granted by most of us. I think it was by me. Virtual contact still allows for that but the multifarious nuances in peoples’ behaviour are harder to detect through a screen. It is not impossible but it is harder if that person is not known to you. As we all become used to, adept at, virtual meetings even with people we have not come across before, the readiness to accept each other, as we are, warts and all, is also changing. This is all for the better given that the use of technology in this way is unlikely to diminish even if and when we return to working out of offices.
What are your proudest professional and personal achievements so far?
Being included in the Lawyers As Citizens listing held at the National Archive of Australia and the work I have done in promoting EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) in the legal profession, internationally. That work (EDI) is not yet done so perhaps I can’t yet count it as an achievement so I will add my unfailing commitment to it as something I am proud of!
How do you find the right work/life balance?
Good organisation and time management. It’s almost compulsive but I book everything into my diary including things with the family, otherwise, I know I’d just say ‘Yes’ to everything work related.
What are your words of advice to other legal consultants?
Back yourself when it comes to the quality of your advice to the business and try to have fun. It’s no longer worth it if you’re not having fun.
How do you start and end your day?
Trying desperately hard not to read my emails before coffee in the morning and ending the day with a simple a cup of lapsang tea and a chapter (or two) of whatever is on my bed-side table.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
The ability to eradicate unconscious bias in everyone such that the notion that women, BAME people, disabled people, poor (all disadvantaged groups) are not as good as some other sector of society is an alien, irrational, incomprehensible and irreconcilable concept in all minds. That should achieve what is needed in every society in one fell swoop!