Solicitor to help Swansea’s ethnic community with innovative new practice

Newly qualified solicitor Shakila Ahmed who completed her Swansea Legal Practice Course (LPC) at Swansea University has helped to set up and develop a local branch of Birmingham-based Cambridge Solicitors LLP.

Shakila AhmedThe branch office, based in Dillwyn Street, Swansea, has the added bonus of offering a better service to Swansea’s ethnic communities as well as to English and Welsh clients.

Former Law Lecturer and local government Equality Policy Officer Shakila who is fluent in Bengali and Sylheti, said: “Throughout my studies at Swansea University I was interested in the idea of developing and contributing to the running of a practice in the Swansea area.”

“I realised early on during my studies that not only is client care and quality of service essential, but that effective communication with your client is paramount, so that they understand the issue and then choose to instruct you based on this understanding. I always go the extra mile to explain obligations and responsibilities in a format which the client understands.  I am fluent in Bengali and Sylheti, and I understand Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi. I am also learning Turkish and Arabic in order to provide a better service to a wider range of clients. In addition, I also have Arabic, Mandarin, Urdu, Punjabi and Yoruba speakers in the office.”

“To enhance client understanding, I organise free sessions to engage with the local ethnic and business communities.  These sessions raise awareness of issues such as how important it is to have a UK will, business immigration issues and how securing partnership and shareholder agreements can avoid future problems in business.”

“My main areas of specialism are business leases and commercial landlord and tenant issues, and drafting business agreements and wills. Other matters I carry out are residential and commercial conveyancing, dispute resolution and subsequent litigation - particularly commercial disputes. I will also be offering advice on immigration issues shortly, especially  business immigration work. 

“Much of the ethnic community are self-employed and therefore issues such as checking the immigration status of employees and what your rights are as a commercial landlord or tenant are vital. I have also organised and delivered sessions to international students at Swansea University regarding their visas and advised on the criteria needed to give them the confidence to apply for graduate jobs in the UK as we are now part of a global market in which  languages and understanding of cultures offer an added dimension and are an asset.”

“My time at Swansea University has helped me realise my aspirations of opening a local office which could utilise my languages and knowledge of the different communities’ needs in Swansea. The LPC has prepared me no end for the job in hand, nothing I learnt has been wasted and I thank the LPC team for all their help and support - from extra discussions to giving valuable feedback on my CV. ”

Michael Draper, Director of the LLM in Legal Practice and Advanced Drafting at Swansea University, said: “Shakila was the first student to undertake this innovative LLM programme combining the LPC with the development of advanced practice skills – her project on the drafting of partnership agreements was first-class and her pioneering spirit is now evident in the legal work she is undertaking for the community.”

Amanda Rees, Director of the Legal Practice Course and the Graduate Diploma Course (GDL) at Swansea University said: “Shakila was an enthusiastic and dedicated student, developing her legal skills through the GDL conversion programme – she was an excellent student and an ambassador for the programme.”

Shakila concluded: "All credit to the team at Swansea University’s College of Law and Criminology. The LPC was the best thing I ever did. I don't think people realise how much it prepares them. Love and thanks again to all those who helped make it happen. It is hard to believe that in my 40’s  I have achieved my dream of becoming a solicitor in Swansea, and gained a Master’s along the way! "

Pictured: Shakila with the 'outstanding contribution to the work place' award given to her when she became a solicitor.