Saleem Sheikh

Saleem’s private and corporate clients have business and personal interests spanning continents. For years – and in many cases decades – they have relied on his expertise in international and offshore tax, arbitration and dispute resolution to protect their interests. Yet Saleem’s support for his clients stretches much, much further.

“I am holistic in the advice I provide,” Saleem explains. “I give my clients reassurance. I take their problem, make it my own and find a solution. That may involve my own areas of legal expertise or I may need to draw on the skills of the wider firm, bringing in our corporate, real estate or family law teams – but I can put in place the services my clients need to resolve the issues they face.”

Lawyer and trusted advisor

For Saleem, his work stretches far beyond the traditional lawyer/client relationship. “You can’t see a client as a ‘case’, a ‘legal problem’ or a ‘fee’,” he emphasises. “I commit myself to my clients in a real and significant way. They hand over something complicated – a dispute, an inter-generational family issue, a business that is facing difficulties – and they trust me to make a difference. I’m their layer. But I’m also a trusted advisor.”

“I have known Saleem for over 5 years. His diligence and efficiency as well as attention and care that we felt from day one, were second to none. I would highly recommend Saleem and his team to any business or family.”

After 40 years in law, this is what drives Saleem. He retains a passion for finding answers, connections and opportunities. He is the embodiment of GSC’s ‘law for life’ ethos. “We all go through good times and bad,” he says. “I find helping someone though a crisis – people who don’t know their rights, don’t know the processes, don’t know how to enforce those rights or achieve the outcome they want – extremely rewarding.”

For these reasons and many more, clients trust Saleem. Many have been trusting him for so long he’s now representing their children too. “I think my clients feel I’m sincere and that they can talk to me in complete confidence,” he says, “and they know I won’t simply hand them on. When I refer a client to someone I know can help them, I’ll stay connected to ensure the issues they are facing are resolved.”

Good lawyers. Good people

Saleem has been captaining GSC since 2001 and his mission remains as it always was: “We work to be a first class law firm for the 21st century, staffed not just by good lawyers but by good people. We want to remain independent because our clients value that about us and because our culture and identity is important to us. And I want to bring out the best in our people.”

“I have known Mr. Saleem Sheikh since 1985 when I first met him in London. Over the last 32 years, I’ve been very happy and satisfied with his services and with the calibre of his knowledge and expertise that he possesses in various fields.”

Qualifications & Experience

Saleem trained with GSC, became a partner in 1985, Managing Partner in 1990 and Senior Partner in 2001.

He graduated from the London School of Economics (LLB) in 1980 and qualified as a solicitor in 1983. He is a member of the Law Society, the  International Bar Association and the London Court of International Arbitration. He is also a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a former member of the SRA Adjudication Panel.

Saleem is fluent in several languages including Urdu, Punjabi, Kiswahili, Kachhi, Hindi and Gujarati.

Accolades, Achievements & Philanthropy

Saleem is a member of the Board of Advisors for Pine Global, holds numerous non-executive directorships and is an advisor to several charities including a start-up incubator supporting the business leaders of the future in Pakistan.

He has been recognised in the CityWealth Leaders List for his wealth management pedigree. Saleem was Magic Circle Awards ‘Entrepreneurial Individual of the Year’, and is a 100 Power Muslim.

Saleem has also become an Ambassador for the UK Muslim Film (UKMF), an organisation that challenges misconceptions of Muslim cultures in cinema by ensuring authentic portrayals of Muslims on screen and that supports the next generation of filmmakers to navigate the entertainment industry.

Harvey Posener

An acknowledged authority and admired figure in contentious and non-contentious commercial property law, Harvey advises large corporate occupiers including Channel 4 and Universal Music on leasing or acquiring buildings across the UK. He also has considerable expertise in the investment, development, sales and letting of all types of commercial property. Yet despite his expertise, Harvey sees things from a typically different perspective.

“I see myself as just a lawyer,” he says. “I grew up in a generation where the specialisation people have now was not so normal.” That legacy of generalism and his breadth of knowledge have proved advantageous on countless occasions.

Buying the Trocadero

“Many years ago I was involved in a transaction to buy the Trocadero for a client,” Harvey recalls. “I negotiated the contract virtually all on my own. On the vendor’s side I dealt with 23 different lawyers. These were really bright, able people, but did they have the overview of the contract that I did? No. Did they understand how it all fitted together? Probably not. That’s where the breadth of knowledge counts.”

Thinking round corners

What would Harvey’s clients describe as his greatest asset? “I think they would say I find solutions to problems that other lawyers don’t,” he says. “I think round corners. I have an ability to look at a problem and think, ‘well, I know that would happen if we applied a certain law in a certain way to area X – but what happens if we apply it area Y?’”

Risk vs reward

“It’s taken me a long time to understand the parts of the law I like,” Harvey admits. “And I love doing law now because I do the intellectually difficult bits. Due diligence may be the backbone of property law but that’s not what I enjoy. What gets me out of bed is the intellectual challenge – finding a different way of looking at something.

“In essence, what I do is an incredibly complex game. I play it well by thinking about the rules of the game, by seeing what the rules mean and how I might apply them in a slightly different way to solve problems. The stakes can be high – winning could mean saving tens of millions of pounds. You won’t always win but the risk/reward ratio makes it worth it for my clients.”

Qualifications & Experience

Harvey attended Manchester University, gaining his LLB Hons in 1981 and qualifying as a solicitor in 1984.

Specialism in property was never the ambition – he started in criminal law – but “as a lot of my contemporaries who aren’t in law are in property I suppose it was a natural progression. As time went by I was funnelled into property.”

Harvey joined GSC in 1990 and became a partner in 1993.

Peter Belcher

Peter specialises in commercial property transactions with a particular focus on secured lending in the hotel, leisure, banking, health and social care sectors. He represents many leading franchisees and ultra-high net worth individuals backed by private equity. His work in the financial sector spans borrowers and lenders including Santander, NatWest, Clydesdale Bank and Bank of Singapore.

He is, he says, “I am of a generation where you didn’t specialise. You did everything, which does give a more rounded perspective. Often, I’ll be working with a borrower and I’m able to prevent them wasting their time because I know what they’re proposing won’t be acceptable to the bank. That means we can focus our attention on proposals that will be acceptable.

“And when I’m acting for the banks – I understand what prospective borrowers are saying and why they’re saying it.”

Described as a “master tactician”, Peter revels in his work. “I like the cut and thrust of the transaction. I enjoy enabling the client to get from A to B, and I do that by using the rules as a framework to get a deal done, not an opportunity to score points.”

An arch pragmatist, Peter sees his role as facilitator. “A lot of the deals I do have borrowers, lenders, assets and security spread around various jurisdictions. I’m often the organiser who ensures it all fits together. And given the interests of my clients and the values involved, I have to get it right.”

One of the keys to getting it right, Peter acknowledges, is to have a little fun. “You have to enjoy what you do. That can make a deal run more smoothly but it’s not a tactic, it’s who I am and it helps make client relationships stronger.

“The best thing a client ever said to me was that I tell them what I think before they know they’re thinking it. That’s what comes of building relationships that really last.”

Qualifications & Experience

Peter attended Nottingham University (LLB Hons) 1981 and qualified as a solicitor in 1985, following his nose – and his clients – to property. “It wasn’t necessarily my goal,” he explains, “but because I love transactions it was a natural fit.”

Peter joined GSC in 1995, becoming a partner in 1996 and an equity partner in 2001.

Clive Halperin

“My clients want to understand what matters – what’s important when it comes to meeting their commercial and strategic objectives,” Clive explains. “I help them find the answers to enable them achieve their goals or protect their interests.”

How does he do that? “It’s about finding the right solution,” he responds. “Legal knowledge is assumed, of course, so what differentiates you is your ability to combine that with your understanding of the client, their objectives and your ability to find a pathway through. Really, it comes down to developing the legal and commercial tactics that get them where they want to be.” Clive’s clients have described it as ‘magicking a solution’.

Breadth and depth of expertise

Clive’s expertise encompasses company law including mergers and acquisitions, private equity investments, shareholder and partnership structures and dispute resolution strategies.

He advises on all forms of commercial, technology and e-commerce law, with particular expertise in the media and sport sectors.  He advises on franchises, acting for large franchisees of multinational brands and for master franchisees negotiating bespoke master franchise agreements. And he works with clients on commercial issues including structuring, ownership, licensing and management of Intellectual Property (IP) rights and trademarks.

Tailored advice

Clive is all too aware that for many legal problems there’s an internet-searchable, template-based solution. “There’s so much available,” he says, “but none of it is tailored. You can download a template privacy statement, for example, but most people wouldn’t know whether they need everything that’s in there. Nor would they know what’s missing – which could be crucial.

“The same is true of a shareholder agreement: the agreement you need when you’re the same age as your partner is very different from the one, you’ll need if your partner is likely to retire ten years before you.”

“What I bring to the table is that combination of legal and commercial expertise to know what really matters. Then I apply it so that my clients can protect their interests or fully exploit the commercial value of them.”

A love of learning

Clive recognises he has had, “an unusual pathway to law. I studied and qualified as a pharmacist. I’m still a pharmacist. I love technology. And I enjoy the lifelong learning of the law. In my area you can’t get comfortable because there’s always a new data protection law, a new company law, a new consumer rights law. It forces you to think. You can’t just rely on your experience.”

Qualifications & Experience

Clive attended Kings College, University of London (B Pharm (Hons)) 1989 and qualified as a solicitor in 1994. He joined GSC in 1998 and became a partner in 1999.

He is a member of The Society of Computers & Law and The Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

 

Michael Shapiro FCILEx

Michael took an unconventional route to partnership with GSC. He joined the firm as an office junior in 1988 and quickly progressed to the role of outdoor clerk (so called because he, “Spent lots of time stood outdoors in the queue for the court when delivering documents”). Whilst there, he started reading some of the documents he was delivering and became fascinated by them.

GSC supported Michael in training to become a legal executive. He qualified in 1997, became an established member of GSC’s commercial litigation team, and in 2004 was appointed its head. Michael was made a partner in 2013 and completed an impressive career journey by becoming equity partner in 2017.

Michael’s clients value his honest, always direct approach and his ability to devise creative solutions. “I don’t make promises I can’t fulfil,” he says. “I think my clients appreciate that. They understand I’m being real. They also value the fact that I like to win.”

That drive has seen Michael win cases in the Court of Appeal, LVT (now FTT), Lands Tribunal (now STT) and the Supreme Court in the much publicised case of Daejan v Benson & Others.

“No one wants to litigate,” Michael notes, “and no client wants to litigate twice. But I treat every client relationship as long term, because whilst they (hopefully) won’t need litigation in the future, I want GSC to be their first choice for every legal need.”

Within GSC, Michael leads the Hearts & Minds programme, an initiative to support employee engagement, inclusion and wellbeing that gives GSC colleagues a place to bring any issues or concerns.

For his many achievements and excellency in commercial litigation work, Michael is included in the Leaders’ List of the City Wealth, which is a prestigious directory of leading professionals. His Leaders’ List profile can be found here.

 

Hateem Ali

Hateem advises clients on all areas of UK immigration and provides strategic advice to businesses on their immigration and compliance needs. He acts for clients across a wide range of sectors, including financial services, law, media, technology and engineering, and has extensive experience advising investors, entrepreneurs and other high net worth clients.

Hateem’s experience across immigration routes not only enables him to offer practical solutions to seemingly complex immigration problems; it also enables him to find solutions where others have failed.

“Often our clients will have seen several lawyers about their case,” he explains. “We tend to be the last lawyers they see because we get it right – and the relationships we build last years.”

For Hateem, his work is not just rewarding; it’s personal. “I remember how important it was for my Dad when he received his indefinite leave to remain in the UK, when I was 19,” he recalls. “That feeling stuck with me and I remember thinking ‘this is an area of law worth being a part of’.

“For my clients, that makes a difference. I know what this feels like. I know the words they want to hear. I know the importance of these cases, not just to our clients but their families. I can’t give guarantees, but I can assure them that I’ll be with them throughout their journey to getting a British passport or visa.”

Hateem also knows that the journey doesn’t end with the passport or visa. “That’s why,” he says, “when we act for clients, we look to support them in a holistic fashion with a range of post-immigration assistance that includes financing, property, business relocation and more. We’re handling their immigration case, but I’m constantly thinking about the opportunities we can offer from a business perspective too.”

The additional assistance ensures GSC’s clients can not only settle in the UK, but thrive. “Our clients are successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople, but when they arrive in the UK they can’t rely on the networks they once did. We are who they turn to.”

As Head of the Middle East Desk, Hateem works to build connections and relationships with prospective clients in the Middle East and helps connect non-immigration-related UK interests with the appropriate GSC partner.

Qualifications & Experience

Hateem attended Kingston University (LLB) before obtaining his LLM in public international law at the School of Oriental and African Studies and the London School of Economics. He qualified as a solicitor in 2007.

He is fluent in Arabic and has spoken at immigration conferences across the Middle East.

 

Khurram Arif

It was a chance meeting with GSC Partner Saleem Sheikh that led to Khurram’s consultant role with GSC. Sat in adjacent seats on a flight into the UK, it became clear to Saleem that Khurram’s knowledge and expertise meant he was ideally positioned to offer occasional support in relation to any aspect of criminal defence, and particularly in respect of fraud, money laundering and confiscation.

An experienced criminal litigator and Higher Court Advocate (enabling him to fulfil the role of barrister in some proceedings), Khurram has been described by his clients as a ‘rock’.

“I’m the person who helps someone who may, for example, be charged with an offence or receive a notice of prosecution” he explains. “I help them find a way through, removing the problem wherever possible. What I do offers a huge amount of relief to our clients.”

Khurram loves “the buzz and excitement” of his work. “You have to react quickly to situations – think on your feet. There’s a new set of scenarios and a new intellectual challenge every day and I find that exciting. You are never guaranteed a win, but it’s important that clients feel you have fought hard for them.”

Qualifications & Experience

Khurram attended the London School of Economics (LLB Hons), qualified as a solicitor in 2001 and as a Higher Court Advocate in 2009. He joined GSC as a consultant solicitor in April 2010.

James Cohen

James’s private client work has a broad remit incorporating the specialisms noted above. His expertise is particularly valued by our Indian and Pakistani clients who may have assets in multiple jurisdictions requiring a detailed understanding of the double tax treaties between the countries.

He is, as he puts it, “A little like a GP of the law. Whilst I will advise clients on the areas in which I specialise, I will also involve other departments in the firm when a client has broader needs.”

As James notes, there is a large project management element about his work. “Our clients rely on us to deal with their issues – and they are reassured by the fact that, whatever the situation, I can help them resolve it. But they also value the fact that we support them in a bespoke way – a way that suits their preferred way of working with us, as well as being responsive and meeting the client’s deadlines”.

James loves the fact that, in private client work, he “sits at the centre of the legal Venn diagram. I always wanted to do private client work because of its variety – I deal with every partner and department at GSC: property, corporate, IP, immigration, litigation.”

In addition to his private client work, James also manages GSC’s Immigration team.

Qualifications & Experience

James attended Birmingham University (BSc 2005) before completing the College of Law Graduate Diploma in Law and Legal Practice Course, both with distinction. He qualified as a solicitor in 2009 and joined GSC to specialise in international and private wealth. In 2015 James was appointed as a Partner.

Having completed the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners (STEP) diploma, James is also a qualified Trust and Estates Practitioner.

James has arranged wills and lasting power of attorneys for a number of my clients and has consistently shown himself to be professional while also being sensitive to some of the emotional issues clients face in such circumstances.

Peter Cooper

As the Chief Finance and Operating Officer at GSC, Peter “wears many hats.” The most important of these is his role on the GSC main board where he advises on strategic, financial, and other key objectives at an operational level.

“I articulate the financial impact of strategic choices to the partners,” he explains. “I give them a view of how a decision we make – bringing in a new partner, for example, or establishing a new department – will affect profitability, cashflow and the balance sheet both present and future.   I act as a liaison between the firm and its financial stakeholders.”

Additionally, Peter supports the successful day-to-day operation of the business. Internally, that includes everything from managing indemnity insurances and telephone systems to leading the admin and finance teams – “It’s a hand-on firm; we all have to play our part,” he observes.

Externally, Peter’s vast experience gained over 30 years in London’s financial sector enables him to facilitate introductions and build relationships between the firm and the City.  It’s an advantage few law firms of similar size can boast – and one that enables us to add even greater value for clients.

Ensuring compliance

Peter is GSC’s money laundering compliance officer (MLCO), operating alongside the company’s reporting officer (MLRO).  “This is an important step for GSC to segregate the roles,” he says.  “It’s right that a firm of this size should have two strategic hires in place to ensure money laundering compliance”.  Such appointments provide reassurance to both the Solicitors Regulation Authority and our clients that we are operating appropriately.”

Financial rigour

It’s no so long ago that a non-lawyer CFOO was all but unheard of in the industry. Peter believes the shift has been for the better. “I bring a chartered accountant’s skillset and perspective to the board”.  Peter gives the decision makers confidence that the assessment of the effects of strategic and operational actions are done from a position of authority and experience.

Peter enjoys the contrast of his current role to his previous experience. “I’ve come from an advisory background, but here I’m not advising on it, I’m doing it. I find that rewarding.”

A former footballer, Peter is a committed West Ham season ticket holder.

Qualifications & Experience

Peter is a Fellow Chartered Accountant, registered with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales. Previously a partner in one of the UK’s top 10 accountancy firms (where he led a national team of restructuring experts), Peter has been working with the GSC Board since 2019.

 

 

Richard Curtin

“People instruct me because they trust me,” explains Richard. “The thing you have to do with clients is manage expectations in terms of costs and timescales. How long will it take? How much will it cost? The way to deal with that is to be upfront.”

Richard applies that upfront approach to a broad portfolio of English and cross- border cases, covering all aspects of contentious and non-contentious insolvency and restructuring (“there aren’t many scenarios I encounter that I haven’t seen before”).

Well connected

“I have a wide-ranging network of clients, specialist and experts,” Richard adds. “Most of my work comes from insolvency practitioners so I’m quite well connected with numerous firms of accountants, from Deloitte and PwC to silver circle; boutique firms to sole practitioners.

“I try make insolvency practitioners’ lives easier,” he continues. “They know 95% of what a solicitor will know in their field but a solicitor is insured to make judgements and they are not.”

Allied to his straightforward manner (“Most of my clients are professional people and sophisticated users of legal services. They don’t appreciate waffle – or Latin – so I don’t do verbosity”), there’s a reason why Richard’s clients return to him again and again.

“I do the long hours,” he says. “I won’t let them down. I may not work with a client for three or four years but they will come back because they trust me.”

Saving businesses

35 years into his career, why does Richard still do it? “I like being busy. I like getting a new case. I like winning,” he says, simply. “We did a corporate voluntary arrangement last year for an upmarket restaurant chain that helped save the business and gave the client a layer of security and immunity. That gave me a real buzz. Saving any business is a good buzz.”

Outside of GSC, Richard is a veteran member of the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC), the City of London’s Army Reserve. He appreciates the way his military background has helped develop his capabilities. “You learn good discipline and good man management skills,” he observes. “You can’t simply bawl out 30 soldiers who are all management professionals – you have to use your head.”

Qualifications & Experience

Richard qualified as a solicitor in 1986: “I’ve been around for a while,” he smiles. Beginning his career as a general litigator (“nobody starts out with the intention of getting involved in insolvency”) his insolvency career began when a winding up petition, he advertised in the London Gazette was spotted by an insolvency practitioner, who sent him work as a result.

“I’ve been doing it ever since,” he says.

Richard joined GSC in 2018. He is a fellow of R3 and The Institute of Credit Management.