Lawyers do inspirational work to ensure access to legal services, support for those entering the legal profession, and continue helping their customers from afar. In this blog post, we’ll share the story of three inspirational female lawyers, each one a Reisman Award Finalist/Winner, in their own words. This article shares the stories of three of our exceptional Clio customers, telling their own stories in their own words:
- Sarah Khan Bashir of SKB Law
- Geeta Daswani of The Daswani Law Company
- Karine Sokpoh of 402 Legal
We hope their stories inspire you and provide strategies for success to put to use in your own law firm.
Sarah Khan Bashir, SKB Law: Reisman Award Finalist, Community Champion
SKB Law is a boutique family law firm with offices in Yorkshire and London. Since becoming a sole practitioner, I’ve integrated social impact into the culture of SKB Law because I believe great client care means supporting our shared community. We’re on a mission to improve access to the law by designing more inclusive legal services for our clients and providing training to people entering, or returning to the legal profession. Clio has an important role to play in our work.
As a family law firm, clients seek our support at possibly one of the hardest moments in their life, the end of their marriage. It’s our job to guide them through the process with clarity, understanding and empathy. We’re discovering how much we can improve our client journey by balancing in-person advice with Clio’s digital services such as e-signatures, integrated client intake forms or billing. Clio’s online portal has provided our clients the privacy and flexibility to access their legal documents when and where they need them – particularly important for our overseas clients or those who need to view documents privately from their spouse. We’re excited about what more we can do to support our clients, including the addition of translation services and partnerships in the UK and overseas.
Alongside the firm’s legal services, our in-house SKB Law Academy supports people entering, or returning to, the legal profession. In the last two years, we’ve reached over 1000 students through our employability workshops, provided 30 students five-day structured work placements, launched an online interview series between legal students and professionals, created ten education and employment partnerships, and inspired a former staff member to start a law degree. The Academy supports:
- Students: we deliver employability workshops to students in the local area – bridging the gap between education and employment;
- Aspiring professionals: we offer structured five-day legal work placements;
- Women: we host free legal clinics for women who need advice and guidance in relation to divorce, nikah, children, or finances.
For students, our two-day employability workshops offer an insight to the world of work, not just law. Students participate in sessions on recruitment techniques, CVs, elevator pitches and interview skills—one of the most powerful sessions for female students has been ‘the handshake.’ We also identify local businesses who can support us to host mock interviews. Feedback from schools describes the programme as “transformational,”and 100% of our participants felt the programme increased their confidence to create a professional CV, improved their communication skills in a professional environment, enhanced their confidence to prepare for an interview, and increased their knowledge of career pathways. We also provide structured five-day work placements at SKB Law. Students undertake a series of daily legal tasks maximising their learning experience, reducing any ‘what should I do now’ moments, and ensuring we continue to deliver great client care. Under this new system, we’ve been able to provide thirty students with five-day work placements in less than 24 months.
The Academy is key to our company culture, featuring in our logo and recruitment process. Everyone is involved … whether sharing their career journey with students at a school or mentoring students on work placement. It’s shown that small firms can make a massive impact in their community. As we start to digitise our community programmes, we hope we can achieve even more.
Clio has been a key part of our journey. It’s enabled me to support my clients, team and community. With a small team, I’m often pulled in different directions, and limited to what I can do. I have supported young people for over ten years through Mosaic, a Prince of Wales’ charity. I viewed my “community support” activities as something I did outside of the firm. But with Clio, I’ve been able to check-in with my team, book appointments, check finances—all whilst preparing to speak to 100 students about what it takes to be a solicitor! Discovering that the Clio team share our passion for innovation and embrace our questions has injected an exciting energy into the firm. It means that even in these uncertain times, I’m asking, “How can we better harness technology to support our clients, and community programmes?” And as the legal sector continues to change, we keep asking ourselves and our students, what type of legal community do we want to build? For us, it’s one which involves the whole community.
Geeta Daswani, The Daswani Law Company (The DLC): Reisman Award Winner, Excellence in Client Service
I am a dual-qualified legal professional (qualified in England & Wales and in India), and before setting up my own practice I had worked as a commercial lawyer in India and the UAE.
Helping my clients build success stories has always been important to me. However, a few years ago my pet dog Coco entered my life, a messenger I guess to help me realise that there was a lot more I could use my legal knowledge for. Before I knew it, alongside working on client matters, I started doing pro-bono work for animal rights organisations such as Mercy for Animals which I found extremely rewarding.
I knew that eventually I wanted to work towards a more ethical and sustainable future without having to let go of all the training that had gone into becoming a commercial lawyer. I knew I had to start something that would let me balance both–thus I started The DLC.
The DLC was born out of these very two aspirations:
- To be trusted legal advisors to our clients for their businesses; and
- To proactively provide legal support to ethical, cruelty-free and sustainable businesses.
With the above two principles as our cornerstones we opened our doors in 2019. We couldn’t be happier about the fact that even in this short span of time we have worked on and are continuing to work on projects that reflect our vision: ‘Legal Solutions for a Kinder and Compassionate Future’.
I started the DLC in January 2019 in London. However, being an overseas national, setting up a business in the UK meant getting the Entrepreneur’s visa, which meant convincing the authorities that I had a vision and that my business plan was sustainable. Fortunately, by the end of 2018, I was granted permission to start my practice in the UK.
The DLC has come a long way in the years since. We’ve been authorised by the SRA, moved from the living room of my parents’ house to an office in Mayfair, signed up with Clio (a game-changer for any legal professional) and won the 2022 Reisman Award for Excellence in Client Service.
Clio has helped us every step of the way. In the beginning, I decided to sign up for Clio because it is endorsed by the Law Society of England and Wales. However, it didn’t take me long to realise what a blessing Clio was and continues to be for my practice.
At the DLC we are thrilled and humbled that our work is contributing towards an ethical and sustainable future. Our legal and business support to ethical and sustainable businesses ensures that they can focus completely on their product or their vision, and Clio in turn helps us help them.
- To start with, Clio helps us operate as a paperless firm which is totally aligned with our vision.
- In addition, Clio eliminates the need to spend/invest in copious amounts of resources for admin-related work. This definitely helps reduce costs, which is a huge benefit for clients.
- The benefits that we appreciate the most are: (i) Clio helps us record time accurately and invoice efficiently; (ii) It also helps us integrate with other platforms like DocuSign and AML-check platforms thereby helping us create a master dashboard that we can access from anywhere and at any time. Clio therefore helps keep up the efficiency even when we are working remotely.
- The feature that our clients appreciate the most is that Clio offers a secure way of communication and storing confidential client information.
We now can’t imagine not using Clio.
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Karine Sokpoh, 402 Legal, Reisman Award Winner, Diversity and Inclusion
We’re all capable of achieving greatness. Unfortunately, not everyone has the access required to fulfil their potential—so that’s why I started 402 Legal back in 2011.
I’m originally from Togo but moved to the U.S. aged 20. That’s when I first realised the immense struggle immigrants face. The mountains of paperwork, administrative uncertainty, and loss of social capital when you move to a brand new country—especially if you don’t know anyone.
Immigrating can be confusing and overwhelming, especially for those who lack legal knowledge. Fortunately, I have first-hand experience. I look like many of my clients, come from a similar background, and have experienced exactly what they’re currently facing. That’s why we do all we can here at 402 Legal to make the process as seamless as possible for our clients.
Of course, arriving in the U.S. is just the first step. Once here, my clients need all the help they can get to make the most out of the opportunity.
Our Omaha-based firm is committed to helping immigrants, or anyone from a similar background, access the opportunities they need to thrive. For example, we created the Pitch Black competition to provide diverse entrepreneurs with funding, mentoring, and networking opportunities.
I also lead the Midlands Bar Association which supports new black attorneys entering the profession, as well as providing pro bono legal services through Law Day and the Volunteer Lawyer Project.
Until someone shows you what’s possible, you’ll never know how far you can go. You can’t dream what you haven’t seen. I was lucky enough to receive a helping hand when I arrived in the US—so I’m trying to pay this back to society.
Clio plays a vital role in our work here at 402 Legal. It reduces the time I spend on administrative matters such as billing, allowing me to instead focus on advocating for my clients in court or building a community.
We’re delighted to have won the 2022 Reisman Award for Diversity and Inclusion, but our work is far from over. We can’t wait to see what the future holds in store. However, one thing’s for sure: Clio will be with us every step of the way.
We published this blog post in December 2020. Last updated: .
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