"make an impression and go the extra mile."
Neelam Afzal is an accomplished lawyer, specialising in employment, HR and litigation matters.
Neelam who grew up in a Pakistani family, living in Birmingham, is a self-sufficient individual.
Despite an ordinary early education, her single-parent mother became a huge source of inspiration for Neelam.
Undertaking part-time employment, she financed and completed her Legal Practising Course (LPC) and then qualified as a solicitor.
Following the completion of her masters, becoming a legal partner in a business, Neelam went onto become an expert in employment and litigation at Wilding Solicitors.
DESIblitz presents an exclusive Q&A with Neelam Afzal, highlighting her journey, challenges, along with advice for students from an employability perspective.
I am a commercially astute and pragmatic specialist Employment Lawyer, who is articulate and highly driven.
I have faced a number of challenges and adversities whether in my business or personal life. However, despite those challenges, I am extremely proud of my achievements and my current position.
I am a firm believer in the saying “the world is your oyster.” And whether through work, education or my passion for travel, I know that there is so much more I can accomplish.
I was born and brought up in an urban area of inner Birmingham. And like many similar areas in Birmingham, it had its own social and economic issues.
I had a basic level of schooling but by the age of 16, when my mother became a single parent, I believe I became the person I am today.
My parents, who came to the UK from Pakistan owned and ran their own businesses.
Unfortunately, this meant they spent very little time with the family and could not engage in many social interactions.
My parents’ work ethic had a significant influence upon me and I changed quite dramatically at the age of sixteen.
I took on a number of part-time jobs. I started work in a graduate position and managed to privately fund the Legal Practice Course. This is whilst holding a full-time job as a Loss Adjuster.
From there I went on to qualify as a Solicitor and complete a Masters in Employment Law. I became a Partner in a London-Bedfordshire based legal practice. The rest, as they say, is history.
How did you successfully overcome any challenges in life?
The first and most challenging issue and pivotal in my career was how I could fund and complete the Legal Practice Course.
At that time, in order to become a Solicitor, you had to successfully complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC) the cost of which was approximately £10k.
After some research, I found a University where I could do the course on a part-time basis and I secured employment with Capita McLarens.
“With some support from another family member, I managed to complete my LPC successfully.”
A more recent challenge has been to build up my department through sourcing avenues and methods of obtaining new client instructions.
In order to pursue this (which is an ongoing challenge), I continue to network, to connect and to support others.
I have found that through being genuine and true to who I am; by trying to be selfless and to help other people; with faith, integrity and hard work – the new work and instructions have come through.
What tips can you give students looking for a job?
I recommend that they should think about what they want to do in their career and have a focused plan.
Use their spare time and holidays to secure work experience.
Think about the area or industry they want to work in and the companies they would like to work for and try to get some real work experience.
Make the most of it, make an impression and go the extra mile. The second tip is to get involved in local societies, social groups or networks.
When hiring new talent, what qualities do you look for?
Good communication skills, expertise and knowledge, the ability to adapt and to learn from experience, and the hunger, passion and drive to want to succeed.
Would you have done anything differently?
I would have used my own advice given in my answer to question three, and always keep an open mind about everyone and everything.
“Try not to prejudge because sometimes the unlikeliest person or business can end up being your best or closest ally.”
It seems Neelam Afzal is not stopping just yet. She is a flexible individual, who certainly wants to accomplish a learn a lot more in life.
Her determination and focus will continually yield more successful results for her in the future. Besides being a solicitor, she has this entrepreneurial spirit, thriving on further challenges.
Neelam is an Executive Committee Member at Asian Business Chamber of Commerce (ABCC). She is a proud former student of Birmingham City University, completeting a Bachelors Degree in Law (1997-2000).
To find out more about Neelam Afzal and employment law please check this blog page here: