Lessons I Learned in Law

Kaleem Khan on Accessibility in Law

May 12, 2022 Heriot Brown Season 3 Episode 9
Lessons I Learned in Law
Kaleem Khan on Accessibility in Law
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Lessons I Learned in Law Scott Brown speaks to Kaleem Khan. Kaleem is a Tax Associate at Travers Smith who advises on all tax aspects of private equity, M&A, corporate finance and banking transactions.

Kaleem has been registered as blind since childhood, and in this episode he discusses his experiences of being a disabled person working in law – from the firms that helped and supported him, to the roles where the accessibility adjustments made for him were somewhat inadequate.

Kaleem also shares the lessons he learned in law including:

  • Don’t compare yourself to people who might have more experience or credentials than you – everyone has to start somewhere!
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of mentors.
  • Be aware and have an understanding of those you work with who have a disability. Bear in mind that accessibility adjustments in the workplace don’t eradicate the challenges being disabled causes in doing a job.  Putting adjustments in place for a disabled colleague is not a magic trick through which a disabled person can suddenly be treated as though they have no disability – everyday brings challenges to day to day work regardless of how effective adjustments are. 

Kaleem is launching a blog which will be available very soon, called The Legally Blind Guy.

Presented by Scott Brown of Heriot Brown Legal Recruitment.

Follow Heriot Brown:

Twitter | LinkedInFacebook | Instagram

This episode of Lessons I Learned in Law is brought to you by Beamery.

Beamery is an AI-powered talent platform, designed to hire candidates faster, develop the skills of your workforce, and increase employee retention.

Find out more at Beamery.com

Scott Brown (00:04):

Hi everyone a nd welcome to Lessons I Learned in Law with me, Scott Brown founder, and managing director of Heriot Brown In-house Legal Recruitment. Now this is the podcast where I sit down with exceptional people and from lawyers from across the legal community to, to figure out what motivates them and what drives them in the legal world.   Regardless of who my guest is the main aim is to simply unpack and, and find out their three key lessons that they've learned in their legal career so far. And sharing these with you I'm hopeful that it'll help you on your own career path and getting to where you want to be. 

I'm delighted to be joined today by my, my guest Kaleem Khan. Hi, Kaleem. Thanks for joining me.

Kaleem Khan (00:52):

Hi Scott. Thanks for having me.

Scott Brown (00:54):

Great to have you. So Kaleem is a tax associate at Travers Smith where he advises on all tax aspects of private equity, M&A, corporate finance and banking transactions. And he also has experience on running tax disputes. Kaleem is also registered blind and he goes by the the acronym, ‘The Legally Blind Guy’. He's an advocate and promoter of wider opportunities in the legal sector for, for persons with disabilities and those who are under- represented in groups, in the legal sector. So some really interesting stuff to unpack Kaleem, really looking forward to our conversation. But if we could just kick off today with your, your first lesson, please.

Kaleem Khan (01:37):

Yeah. So I think when you first joined the legal profession, when you're a junior lawyer, you obviously know the structure of a law firm partner, associate trainee, etc, but I don't think you quite realize how hierarchical it can be internally. And I think the hierarchy structure where you have that kind of you know, partner to associate trainee level, it can be a little bit intimidating if you're not particularly aware of it going into a firm. And it can, you know, it can potentially be used for positive ways. So you can have mentors, you can have people who you learn a heck of a lot of stuff from in order to make yourself a better lawyer, but it can also have slightly negative connotations a s well in that as lawyers, you know, as trainees, we're all very bright individuals, very driven in individual is very intellectually competitive.

Kaleem Khan (02:30):

And we're always, you know, we always have a tendency to compare ourselves and put ourselves down. And you know, when you are working with someone who's five years, qualified, 10 years qualified basically is an expert in their field. And they just, you know, come across things and they know what to do straight to away. There's often a tendency to think, ‘oh, why don't I know that I'm not that great’. And I think if I could go back in time, I'd have probably have told myself that and said not to be so hard on myself and not to kind of compare myself against people who are you know, a lot more senior than me, a lot more experienced than me. 

Scott Brown (03:12):

Yeah. I think that's great. There's, there's a, there's a big thing around imposter syndrome within the professions and I guess other other professions, do you feel you've suffered from suffered from that as a result of that hierarchy?

Kaleem Khan (03:25):

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, in my particular practice area – Tax - what you are effectively because it's so complicated. Cause there's so much tax law, you are effectively leveraging two things to a client: you're leveraging your experience and your knowledge. When you're a junior lawyer, you don't have any. So you'll often be working with partners, etc, or even senior associates who will have had 5 to 10 years experience. And they see things relating to tax. They see a set of fact patterns, which they'll just say instantly like that. ‘Okay, there's a tax problem here. Okay. This is a tax. This isn't a tax issue’. And often, when I was asked, when I was more junior level to have a look at things before the partner I'd have a best go, then I'd send it to the partner. And I'd just, I I'd miss a lot of things.

Kaleem Khan (04:16):

Not, not because I was incompetent, but just because I didn't have the experience or the knowledge to know, and to immediately have that trigger to say, ‘yes, this is an issue’. And there was a point, you know, when I was one year, two years qualified, cause I know I'm an intelligent guy, like every other trainee solicitor. There was a point when I thought, you know, well, seriously considering quitting because I thought I'm not, I'm not good. And you know ‘how can I compete with the likes of these people? I I'll be nowhere near what this tax partner's like in five years time, it's just incredible’. So it is quite difficult. But having said that, you know, the positive side of it is, and what I've got Travers Smith thankfully, is that you'll often get partners who know that, who understand that. And they'll support you and they'll teach you. And, you know, in that respect, the hierarchy is really, really good. And it's really, really valuable to have someone who takes the time and the interest to teach, to help develop you and give you that confidence and, you know, put an arm around your shoulder and say, ‘look, you're only a year qualified. You're only two years qualified. I'm not expecting you to, to have the same insight as me’. It can also work the other way as well.

Scott Brown (05:33):

Yeah. I, I think, I think definitely it can be, yeah, it can be a toxic a toxic culture in terms of the hierarchy, but it, that, that arm around the shoulder sounds like a great a great support network. 

I think, I think the thing is you don't know what you don't know, and, and as you said, as an intelligent probably overachiever throughout education, you must feel stepping into that environment. ‘Oh dear we're in the real world now’. It's hard to fake it before you make it. When, when its, when it's such a complicated area, do you think, was there anything you could have done, or you could have been prepared going into law or going into a law firm to give you a, a better understanding of that, that structure or that hierarchy?

Kaleem Khan (06:23):

I think to be honest, when I, when I was qualifying and going, becoming a trainee, it was about 10 years ago, now, seven years, eight years ago. And there wasn't that much information out there say like podcasts such as this. And there wasn't that much kind of real information about what it's like to be a trainee. So to be honest, I went into a law firm. I was, I was a graduate. I graduated from Warwick, I did my LPC and I went straight in as quite a naive kind of young chap. But I think if I was talking to myself and I was looking to join law, now I would probably do a lot more research. Even, even if I'd like settled on doing law, I'd do a lot more research. I'd listen to a lot more podcasts like this. I'd read a lot more information about the real kind of experience of being a, a junior lawyer or a trainee.

Kaleem Khan (07:12):

And obviously with, with YouTube and stuff and bloggers, there's a lot more access which people have. And I think you just need to know what you are kind of getting into before you get into it. Cause like any career and, and this isn't exclusive to law, like any career where you've got highly driven, highly intelligent, highly employees, but you've also got highly pressurizing clients. You just need to know what you're getting into it and what you can expect and make a decision as to whether that's the right thing for you, because you don't want to be looking back five years after you've qualified thinking. ‘Oh, I think I've made a mistake.’

Scott Brown (07:54):

No, I've, I've been there. I've done that. <Laugh> yeah. I, I definitely I'm on the, on the camp of the, the due diligence. I think the vloggers and influencers around the legal profession. Now, if, if that's what they're, they're called it, it's great. I think it gives that real insights into what it's, what it's like good and good and bad. So can, can agree more. 

How did you get into law in the, what made you explore that career path?

Kaleem Khan (08:21):

So I, I was, when I, so I've been registered as blind since I was like three or four years old. I was always told I was argumentative, but I was always told that you know, even when I was getting shouted at, I was always told that actually some of the arguments I made were quite good and I, I didn't really know what to do with my life, because for me, like the natural progression, I was really good at sciences. So it was like being a doctor, a dentist, but obviously, cause I was blind, I can't do that. So I was thinking about what else can I do with my talents? And I got into, it sounds bit cliche, but I got into John Gresham books when I was like 14, 15 years old. And the only re for anyone doesn't know, he's like a famous American legal writer. And the only reason I actually was able to access those books was because they were the only ones at the time, which were in audio. So it just so happened that I, I, I tripped into of those and I really liked it. And I really thought my skillset in terms of good memory, good analysis, you know, enjoying, arguing law would be something that I could explore as a career. And I knew there weren't many, but I knew of one lawyer who had been blind.

Scott Brown (09:32):

Yeah. I was gonna ask.

Kaleem Khan (09:33):

Yeah. I knew, knew of one who had been blind and I met up with him and, and did a week with him and it just made me think ‘actually you know, I, I can do this if he can do it’. He was a criminal lawyer. But ‘if he can do it, I, I can do it’. And so that's why I decided to get into law. I know what kind of law I wanted to do when I, when I went to uni, I was quite open as to, you know, Barrister, solicitor, criminal corporate. But yeah, that's generally, I always knew I'd want to go into law from that point onwards cause yeah. And yeah,

Scott Brown (10:11):

Moving on to lesson two, then Kaleem if you could share that please? 

Kaleem Khan (10:29):

Yeah. So it's, it's linked. I think it's linked to what I was saying in the first instance where, you know, the power of mentors particularly in the profession, I think for me, there are three or four individuals who I've worked with, particularly at my old firm who and they, they hopefully know who they are, who really put their arm around me, kept an eye on me, took me under their wing and really kind of made it possible for me to flourish and do as well as I did in my training contract. And mentors, aren't always necessarily partners. They're not always necessarily, you know, people who you directly work with. It can be, you know, anyone basically it can be a junior associate to, can be a senior associate to a junior associate. But having that individual who just says, you know, ‘you're doing well Kaleem’, or, you know, for me, in particular, when I joined my first seat at Norton rose, I was really struggling because I was in the banking team.

Kaleem Khan (11:33):

And as a trainee, a lot of that work is just admin, heavy filing, filling forms, etc. And I was really struggling because it, there's not much law as a blind solicitor, even with my adjustments, it was very, very difficult. And it was made known to me by the sub-team through their behavior that they weren't really willing to make allowance for the way I worked. And, you know, they basically treated me as if like I was just rubbish, it was kind of like a, a passenger, but there was a senior partner in that team. He was about 55 or 60. So he'd been around the block a bit, been, been partnering a few of the big law firms and he just saw me, he saw the way I worked, he saw that, you know, my talents lay more in black letter law, reading law, applying it situations rather than the admin side.

Kaleem Khan (12:30):

And he just took me under his wing. He wasn't even involved in the trainee supervisor, you know, he wasn't in a formal role. He just decided to take me under his wing and kind of encouraged me to you know, have confidence in myself and, you know, try and focus on work, which was slightly more kind of legal rather than admin and transaction based. And he basically is, is a chap called Rich Hughes. He basically, I, again, I was on the cusp of leaving law after three months just cause I felt so awful in that, in that kind of period in that first team. And he basically, I don't think I'd be in this career if he hadn't put his arm around me and get, can be the confidence and said, ‘You are good, Kaleem, your skillset doesn't necessarily lie in the transactional admin side of being a lawyer. You're more of a kind of normal lawyer reading the law, applying it, and there's nothing wrong with that. And I believe in you’. Great. So

Scott Brown (13:32):

That's good. Good, good to hear. I suppose the, the let down is that, that, that the, the institution itself or the, the business itself doesn't have that support, maybe that support structure running, running through it.

Kaleem Khan (13:48):

I think you know, all of these law firms are now huge. What a lot of these, particularly in the city, and you think like they have have wide law firm policies on disability, accessibility adjustments, etc, but fundamentally it's the people business. So no matter say how much a law firm says, yes, we'll put these in place. We'll put that in place. As lawyers, as solicitors in particular, we work in teams as a junior solicitor, or the trainee you're the bottom of basically you bottom of that team. And you need people to kind of invest in you. And if there isn't that running belief, that particularly if you're disabled, that you know, everyone else who you work with, isn't willing to change and adapt to you. Then you've basically got no chance despite what the institution might say.

Kaleem Khan (14:38):

So I, one of the things I'm quite hot on is-  people always say, you know, this law firm really good on disability. That law firm's really good on disability, but to me, I think it's all a bit fake. You're only as good as the people inside. And if the people inside aren't, aren't willing to give you a chance or willing to invest the time in you, then there's no real point in having those adjustments or disability policies because you're still not gonna do well. And that's what I found at my previous place in, in, in some of the seats, not not in every aspect of my previous job, but in some of them I did.

Scott Brown (15:15):

Yeah, well, hopefully you're a you're, you're a, a beacon of light in terms of that the, your own particular disability, but to, to make things more accessible than I think need role models within. I think the, the more steps that are the, the steps that are taken in your case are obviously creating a, creating a bit of a blueprint into terms of, and, and hopefully can, can lead to better, better things, better practice.

Kaleem Khan (15:49):

I think that's think that's right. Scott, I think one of the big challenges I've had as a disabled lawyer is aside from the chap I mentioned earlier in not in, you know, my hometown, there's no one really above me who I can look at to say yes. Okay. It is possible say to become partner at this law firm or, you know, to become a judge in the tax tribunals, etc. And, and it is really difficult. And so if I can, you know, kind of be that person who other people can now look at, cause I know that there are a few more visually impaired slash blind lawyers coming through the ranks in, in law firms. Now, if I can kind of, I suppose, give people the belief that they can do it too.

Scott Brown (16:36):

Yeah, absolutely.

Kaleem Khan (16:37):

All, all the better.

Scott Brown (16:38):

Yeah. And I think it's, I think it's inspirational in the, the, the hurdles that you've, that you've gone through, then it, or gone over then it it can only can only help other people. 

Do you know, does the SRA, do they do they record that data? Is it with lawyers with disabilities and how much, how much information's available?

Kaleem Khan (16:57):

I think it's part of that. Yeah. I think it's part of their diversity kind of stats alongside all the other protector characteristics. I don't know, off the top of my head. I know we Travers Smith, send it in. I don't know, to what extent it's like mandatory for law firms to send that information in or not. But I, I do know they have some staff based, you know, disabled individuals, LGBTQ+, women, you know, racial stats, etc. So.

Scott Brown (17:28):

Hmm, cool. And in terms of, in terms of the mentoring, the, the mentoring you've had, it sounds like that was on the job mentoring, have you been part of mentoring programs or looked into becoming a mentor at all for people?

Kaleem Khan (17:45):

I wasn't really part of any mentoring programs, to be honest, where I was the mentee aside from the informal ones I've kind of talked about now at this stage at Travers I've got my own trainee and I alongside one of the partners for the six months now in the team, I am effectively their associate supervisor. So I do take on kind of a and to a mentor role in that respect, making sure they're okay. Talking 'em through, you know, various tax points, which they might not feel comfortable talking to someone more senior about or someone else just being that kind of port of call for them to ask any stupid questions or to, or what they think are stupid. Questions is no such thing as a stupid question to you know, and, and even just from a pastoral perspective, you know, talking to them to them about career options you know, letting them know that as, as an individual, not, not every individual is gonna be made for tax law and that's fine, and their skillset might be somewhere else.

Kaleem Khan (18:48):

It might be in corporate, you know, finance, it might be in real estate law might be somewhere else and just reassuring them that that's fine. And, you know, there's nothing wrong with that. And just because they're not necessarily amazing at the tax law seat, it doesn't mean they're a worse solicitor for it or anything it's, it's that kind of role. And I really enjoy it actually, because I think people appreciate what, what I've been told by my trainees. They really appreciate honest feedback and they really there's a lot of, kind of in institutions, you can sometimes get politics about what people say to people about things. And I, I don't really subscribe to that to my detriment or otherwise, I, I just think you should tell people straight about things and people really appreciate the honesty.

Scott Brown (19:35):

I think it's a good, good way to be. I think people can read and see through, see through, the, the politics or however, however you dress it up.  People are good at what they enjoy. I find. And, and, and vice versa. People like enjoy what they're good at. So, yep. Been able to help someone on that journey to find, find what that is, whether it's in, even in law, after their training contract or out of it. That's the, that's the key? Absolutely. 

Great. And then before we jumped on you were telling me you're often mistaken for a famous face?

Kaleem Khan (20:36):

Yes. It's. I dunno whether this is flattering or not, but anyone who's familiar with Bollywood will know of an actor called Amita Butchon. He's like one of the old school kind of Marlon Brando type equivalent. He's about 80 years old. So I dunno whether I should really be sharing this, but literally on three or four occasions, usually when I've been abroad, like in the, in the middle east, literally people just come up to me and start like shouting at me and Hindi. And like “Amita, Amita”. And even when, there was this one occasion, I went to the I can't remember where it was. I think it was in Morocco or somewhere. I went to the airport and my father was there with me and the airport guy said, “oh, hello, Mr. Butchon” to me. And I was like, I can't, I can't tell whether he was joking or not. But then obviously he saw my passport and was like, well, obviously it's not this famous guy, but on that same trip, then all the waiters and stuff were like coming up to me at the hotel being like, oh yeah, “hello, Mr. Butchon”. And then like, everyone kept taking pictures of me thinking I was this old actor, but if you Google this chap's name, you'll see that he's 80 years old. The only similar I've got with him is that he's 6”2, 6”3 I'm I'm that kind of height. And you know, maybe similar hair style

Scott Brown (21:55):

<Laugh> but good to know. He's got his hair good to know.

Kaleem Khan (21:58):

He's still got, yeah, he still got his hair. <Laugh> 

Scott Brown (22:01):

Sounds like you could use it in your, your favor. Maybe turn, take a, take a left. No, next time you're boarding an airplane and going to first class and yeah. Just ask, ask the waitress and waiter for another one of, one of the same or whatever.

Kaleem Khan (22:19):

Pull the, “do you not know who I am” line?

Scott Brown (22:21):

Yeah, definitely. Play with the hand you've been dealt, but dealt with there. <Laugh> yeah. Awesome. Are you a Bollywood fan?

Kaleem Khan (22:33):

Not really. <Laugh> not really, to be honest. My parents are, so they were they find the whole thing hilarious to be, to be Frank. Cause also I can't, I can speak Hindi, but not, not to the level where I could act in movies. So it's all just a bit of a funny situation to be honest, but it, it always gets a good laugh whenever I tell that story.

Scott Brown (22:55):

Coming on to lesson three, then if you could share?

Kaleem Khan (23:08):

Yeah. So this is, is quite specific to being disabled in the workplace. And I think I've already touched on the fact that there's a lot more awareness by institutions of putting adjustments in place for people - they're referred to as reasonable adjustments in order to help people to work properly despite their disability. So for instance, I have software on my computer, which reads everything out. So all my emails, all my word documents, it's all I have a set of headphones and it all read. It's all read out through those. And then I have specific kind of other supporting technology talking iPhone, I've got extra PA support, etc. And that's all great. And you know, that's fantastic. If, if a law firm is able to provide that, which Tavers are, I think the problem you have is that there's often a tendency and they I've noticed this throughout my career.

Kaleem Khan (24:11):

At both law firms, I've been at to think that once you've put the accessibility adjustments in place for someone with a disability, they're basically on a par with someone who's not disabled. And basically they should just be treated as someone who's not disabled because you've put into place their accessibility requirements. And it's not quite the case just because for instance, I am able to access documents and emails via my, my ears doesn't mean that I'm on a par with someone who can read. I can't skim read for example, so the way I access my documentation is I have to listen to documents line by line. I can't just say, you know, oh, in the, the third line of this paragraph four Kaleem, you know, it says this, I need to scroll down and listen. So I know I listen and work out where I am in a document by that, which takes longer.

Kaleem Khan (25:06):

When I'm on phone calls, I'm now at the stage where I'm running my own transactions, which also means I'm negotiating documents with opposing counsel. That's really difficult because number one, I have to know what's in my document and be able to listen to what's in my document and the relevant clause we're talking about. Number two, I then have to, at the same time as I'm doing that, I have to listen to what the other person's saying and that why they're saying their point is more valid or should be put into the document. And then number three, on top of all that, I've got to process that and then think about how I'm going to respond. These things are only brought to people's attention through people like me saying these things, but I think there's often people wouldn't really fully appreciate that until you said it and they just think, ‘oh, Kaleem can just do it as normal now’.

Kaleem Khan (26:02):

And so I think, again, this kind of fits into the whole, the law is a people business aspect. It needs kind of buy in and understanding from people you work with that that's the case. And I think the other, the other point, and one which I came across about 18 months ago was, as your job develops your kind of role and your responsibilities will also change and that potentially might necessitate a change in adjustments. So for instance, I about 18 months ago was going through the process of becoming, going from being a junior lawyer to a midlevel kind of associate to a senior associate type level. And I was just doing a lot more. I was the, the face, I was the person leading the transactions from a tax perspective. I was the one dealing with all the clients and the software I had been using to that in was the one which I'd been using from university.

Kaleem Khan (27:05):

And that's what all I thought I needed, but it soon transpired that that kind of software wasn't sufficient. It was quite slow, its voice reading capabilities weren't as good as I needed them to be, to deal with the amount of work I was doing. And that was all part of my, you know, changing role. So a couple of the partners, the partner called Russell Warren and there a partner called Hannah Manning. They, they, and, and that was one called Jess Kemp who they said, you know, is there anything we can do to help cuz we can kind of see, they didn't say I was struggling, but they could see that I was getting a bit frustrated. We had all had a conversation and you know, we said, ‘what can we do’? And we brought HR in, we brought it in.

Kaleem Khan (27:53):

And so we spoke to the RNIB, which is the Royal national Institute for the blind, did an updated workplace adjustment. And they said they recommended a whole lot of new kind software and equipment, which was better suited for someone with my eyesight condition. And with my role, it was a very quick process. And now six months down the line I've been using all this updated software per the RNIB recommendation. And it's really changed my life. And I think has enabled me to kind of go on and develop more as a better lawyer to my ability. I wouldn't have been able to do that had I not, you know had the updated adjustment to go alongside my role because I, I, there was a tendency and, and I felt this to think to myself, ‘well, they've given me the adjust I requested when I joined Travers, which were the ones I'd, I'd been taking over for, you know, using since university they've given me all this, do I really want to rock the boat and you know, say, oh, can you gimme some updates? You know, will an institution be a bit annoyed by that because they'll think, oh, you know, this is gonna cost us Kaleem’s have to, you know, maybe step back for a couple of months while he gets used to the new software’

Scott Brown (29:09):

Understand, right? Yeah.

Kaleem Khan (29:11):

Yeah. But they, they were quite supportive, but it, it depends where you are. It depends what law firm you are. Depends, you know, the buy-in you have from your colleagues.

Scott Brown (29:19):

Yeah. And the communication that goes on on that, on that part, like you said, it's people just won't have, I guess unless you're in that unless you're working in that environment with someone and, and myself included coming onto this coming on to record, I had, I hadn't, it's obviously not been something that's ever been on my radar, so yeah, amazing to, to hear around all the different challenges and, and yeah. The more you think about it, God, there must be on ongoing. Is there, is there an ongoing review process, or could there been ongoing review process that someone's maybe scanning for what issues might come up or new software that would make the job easier?

Kaleem Khan (30:02):

Yeah. So I think having gone through the process, I just described, I'm a lot more alert to what's going on. I'm in contact with the RNIB. I think also the partners who I work with in the tax team and the HR team, and IT, they're all kind of the kind, a lot more engaged now. They always have been, but they, they are like plugged in now because of the experience they've had with me. And so I think we were all of keeping an eye on it. I also, as, as a firm, Travers does have quite a engaged disability network and it's got lots connections with people like the British disability forum and organizations like Scope. So to stay in touch, not only with visual impairment issues, but all types of disability. And we have like a monthly meeting hosted by a couple of the partners to go through it. So I think there is certainly at my institution, there is buy-in and if I did want updated kind of adjustments, I’d feel comfortable that I'd be able to ask for those without feeling awkward.

Scott Brown (31:17):

Yeah. No, that's great. It's good. Good environment. 

Hell of an area of law to have chosen to specialize in. I can remember from studying, I can remember from my studies, the, the tax the tax statute books and and readings on tax were always the thick ones. They were always used as door stops. Navigating those can't be, can't be the easiest.

Kaleem Khan (31:44):

No, it's not. I, I think tax is one of those areas where often when I tell people I'm a tax lawyer, a lot of people just think it's quite boring and they don't know what to say, but I personally really enjoy it because it's problem solving effectively. In my particular practice where we're dealing with private equity, M&A, which is, companies, buying companies, you are you know, you're looking at the particular problems a company has from a tax perspective. You're saying, ‘how do we give ourselves legal protections and contracts to deal with these issues? Or how do we kind of set up a structure to the extent that the is kind of the most tax efficient in the most, you know, tax legal way’. And I find it really interesting because you have the overlay of what the clients want commercially, you know, so a client just says, ‘I want to buy this group of companies and sort it out for me, lawyers’.

Kaleem Khan (32:42):

And then from a tax perspective, you know, we're kind of feeding in over the top of that. So it's not only applying kind of tax law to a specific set of circumstances. It's also applying it within a commercial context. One of the things I've learned is you have to not only do you have to be a good tax lawyer, you have to be a good general lawyer to be a good tax lawyer, cuz you need to understand what's going on in the background before you can even apply the tax. And I think the skill in being a really good tax lawyer, or advisory lawyer generally, So, you know, employment, competition is knowing when to take a commercial approach rather than telling the client a technical, you know, tax point. The client's not gonna care if you tell them this is how the tax laws work, you know, subsection E of paragraph D of or see, they're not gonna care about that. They're gonna, okay, great. Yeah. Great. You know, all of that, that you're really, really clever, but actually what do I need to do to make this not a problem? And it's being able to take those kind of technical laws and put them in that kind of context, which is the real challenge, but the bit I really, really enjoy cause is, is it's problem solving.

Scott Brown (34:01):

Awesome. So I'm asking all my guests what they would confine or throw into Room 101, if there was such a thing for the legal, the legal profession. So it could be a law, it could be your tax statute book. It could be someone what would you, what would you throw into Room 101, if you could,

Kaleem Khan (34:26):

Sometimes it would be tax statute book, but then I was thinking about this, if it was the tax statute book, then I'd be out of a job. So probably not that. I think going back to what I said at the beginning, I think it's sometimes the hierarchy structure can be used for good, but also it can have toxic connotations, particularly where you don't have partners or senior lawyers who are particularly supportive towards juniors and trainees. And I think sometimes, and I've seen it myself, sometimes you can have as a situation where a senior and a partner or a partner just, they're not just not supportive and they think, ‘well, I'm the senior. I don't care what the junior thinks’. And they'll almost just you know, break a Junior's mental fortitude, they'll reduce their confidence so much that often a junior slash trainee won't be able to come back from it.

Kaleem Khan (35:27):

And there's no need for that because at the end of the day, we are intelligent. We're all lawyers, we're all human beings. So you should treat people with respect and you should always remember kind of everyone has to start from somewhere and everyone starts from a, you know, level of zero knowledge and you should be prepared to cultivate that as a, as a senior person in a junior rather than kind of put them down for not knowing things they shouldn't really anyway. And you know, just remember that we, we are all humans, right. Again, it comes back to the whole law  as a people business, you know, we're all humans treated as, you know, the way you'd want to be treated regardless of status or role level.

Scott Brown (36:15):

No, absolutely. I'm I'm for throwing I'm for throwing that in there. I think it's, it's a system systemic problem, I guess these people have maybe been, even if they're partners, they've probably been in that position themselves getting the hair dryer treatment or getting red penned a markup without much explanation, but, but taking a step back and remembering what it's to like to be in that positions important. So, no, I, I I support that.

Well that just about brings us to an end Kaleem, it's been great to, to sit down and, and chat with you and, and hear your hear your lessons and also to learn well for me, just to learn more about what it, what it's like working within the profession and, and even wider professional services where I think it has a lot of application as someone with a, a disability and, and registered blind. So thank you very much,

Kaleem Khan (37:11):

You know, thank you for having me, Scott.

Scott Brown (37:13):

I think I think a lot of people will it'll open, open a lot of people's eyes and for them to, I think be considerate of, of other people's situation and ask, ask questions around that. So

Kaleem Khan (37:24):

No, no pun intended, no pun

Scott Brown (37:26):

Intended. Absolutely. No, not at all <laugh>. 

We mentioned before we jumped on your considering or your, your, your, the, the early stages of, of putting together a blog.

Kaleem Khan (37:43):

Yeah. So I've got a blog which I will be launching this summer, which is called The Legally Blind Guy. And you can find at www dot the legally blind guy .co.uk. I'm also on Instagram @ thelegallyblindguy. As I say, it is very much in the and stages, but I am using it to talk about topics which can raise awareness about both site impairment in the legal profession and, and, and other things.

Scott Brown (38:11):

Great. We will give it all the support we can across, across social media give Kaleem follow. But thank you for listening to Lessons I Learned in Law. For more information on all of my guests head over to Heriotbrown.com/podcast. Thanks. Kaleem.

Kaleem Khan (38:33):

Thank you.

Scott Brown (38:34):

I'm Scott Brown. See you next time.