Barry Samuels

Barry has been qualified for 50 years, the longest of any of GSC’s practitioners, applying his extensive skills to commercial litigation (“usually based on contract”), corporate law, torts (often with allegations of fraud or professional negligence) and arbitrations.

He is completely hands on. “I am not a processor. I don’t simply clock up the hours and rely heavily on Counsel. I still like to read everything in depth because I consider it essential to understand the details of the case, to identify the problems (actual and potential) and to find ways to address them.  I am truly available 24/7 and my clients know I really care about them and their case.”

Having already retired from the law once, he returned in 2010, joining GSC as a consultant after missing the challenges of dispute resolution. “I like learning.  I still have lots to learn and experience. Whenever I finish a case, I always ask what I’ve learned and how can I improve. I’m fascinated by the complexities that cases can throw up.  I also enjoy the relationships with clients and colleagues.”

Protecting clients’ interests

Much of Barry’s work reaches him via a battery of top rate barristers who recommend him because “they know I will care about the case, work well the client and charge sensibly.”

The sentiment of this is shared by his clients. “Many of my clients are high profile business people and there’s usually an international element to my cases,” says Barry, who has dealt with a wide variety of high value disputes whilst with GSC. “I tend to act for entrepreneurs,” he adds, “because I like to deal with the people who can give me instructions directly rather than having to report to a committee.”

One of Barry’s clients – an individual of ultra-high net worth – reflected that Barry is not just a ‘yes man’ doing a client’s bidding, but someone who is always looking after his interests.

Recent cases include:

  • A shareholders’ dispute involving a deadlock company in which one of the two shareholders sought permission to bring a derivative action
  • Successfully resisting with indemnity costs an attempt by a Russian businessman to obtain an anti-suit injunction in England to restrain proceedings in the New York Court. The case also involved Jersey and Ukrainian law element
  • A dispute regarding the sale a property owned by an elderly and frail gentleman at a significant undervalue involving breach of the estate agent’s duty and challenges to the bona fides of the purchaser
  • An acrimonious family dispute centred in the Courts of Uganda Jersey and the BVI with accusations of breach of freezing orders and allegations of contempt
  • Acting for a Georgian oligarch relating to his claim that his business had been unlawfully taken by the Bank of Georgia and described as one of the top cases to come to trial in 2021.  The case was based on Georgian law principles.

Away from the office, Barry is happy to wax lyrical about Helen Shapiro (“my heroine”) and the magical and restorative healing power of the magnificent Mugello Valley in Tuscany “with its abundance of amazing red wine and the best olive oil in the world at Villa Campestri.”

Qualifications & Experience

Barry attended Manchester University where he gained a first-class honours degree followed by first class honours in his professional qualification.

He qualified at Nabarro Nathanson in 1971 where he became the youngest solicitor appointed to partnership. He moved to become a partner and subsequently head of department at Manches & Co in 1974, Brecher & Co in 1986 and Kingsley Napley in 1996.

Barry joined GSC in 2010 as a consultant.

Sana Sheikh

Sana’s focus on contentious work frequently involves multiple jurisdictions. In significant part, that’s a result of working with many high-net-worth clients whose assets span borders. Recent cases have included:

  • A family trust dispute between settlor and beneficiaries, which involved the laws of Jersey, British Virgin Islands, Uganda and the Seychelles
  • An international arbitration seated in London concerning the export of goods to a country in East Africa; and
  • A recovery of substantial losses suffered by a claimant under principles of Georgian law against a financial institution based in Georgia.

For Sana, mixing the contentious and the international is an appealing combination. “Contentious work requires a deep attention to detail, but also a strategic mind. Success is about anticipating your opponent’s next move and I enjoy applying this mindset to the cases I advise on.”

“Working internationally adds to the appeal. I’ve always enjoyed meeting people with different backgrounds, cultures and ways of doing business. That started at university and I always wanted it to translate into my work. International law means you work with legal systems and lawyers from around the world which makes every case unique.”

Representing the next generation

Within GSC, Sana has a cross-firm role in looking after next generation clients. “There is a tradition of the next generation choosing new advisers over the people who have represented the previous generation,” she explains. “We want to show the benefits of continuity of support, whilst acknowledging and adapting to the fact that the next generation often wants to work in a different way with us.”

The daughter of GSC founder and senior partner Saleem Sheikh, Sana shares the perspective of many of GSC’s next-gen clients. “I understand how they feel. Many of their issues resonate with me which, I think, helps create an immediate connection. It’s my role to ensure that, whatever the client’s case, we look after them.”

Qualifications & Experience

Sana holds an MA in Law from St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge. She completed the Accelerated Legal Practice Course at BPP in London with Distinction and trained at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP in London, spending six months in Dubai, U.A.E on secondment. Sana qualified as a solicitor in 2015 and joined GSC in 2016 to specialise in commercial litigation and dispute resolution.

Sana was also qualified as a Higher Courts Advocate in 2021, which gives her the same rights to appear and conduct proceedings in court as a barrister. That  knowledge deepens understanding of day-to-day litigation work such as case analysis methodologies, rules of evidence and how to deliver compelling submissions to advance your case. Higher Rights of Audience allows Sana to represent clients as a solicitor-advocate in the Senior civil courts in England and Wales, thereby enhancing the service that we can offer to our clients.

Sana has authored a number of articles on trademark law, which have been published in journals such as the World Trademark Review and World Intellectual Property Report.

Saqib Sheikh

“People don’t fit in boxes,” states GSC’s website – so the way we respond to our clients’ legal needs can’t fit in boxes either. That approach has become more important than ever in recent times. As part of GSC’s marketing department, Saqib has been helping to ensure that we remain close to our clients and react swiftly to their needs.

“I ensure the marketing department can do more – that we cover more ground – particularly on the digital side,” he explains.

‘Covering more ground’ involves a wide range of duties, from working on digital campaigns to putting together YouTube videos to planning the strategy for the company’s social media content.

 Bringing out the best in our people

In particular, Saqib has enjoyed helping the firm’s lawyers feel more at ease with some new digital marketing techniques. “I like the fact that the team is responsive to doing things it hasn’t done before,” he says. “Making videos, for example, was something lawyers were fairly unfamiliar with and it has been rewarding to help them improve their to-camera presentational skills and bring out the best in them which, in turn, helps us reach more people with a polished message.

With a large social media following and a strong background in (and passion for) digital marketing and online strategies, Saqib has applied his skills to running his own B2B and B2C businesses in sectors such as real estate and beauty.

Outside of work, Saqib is committed to a vegan lifestyle and enjoys staying fit and playing sports.

Qualifications & Experience

Saqib has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from The Boston University School of Management.

Richard Southall

Richard is a subscribing member of the bar, regulated by the Bar Council and the Bar Standards Board. For GSC, Richard acts across a broad range of complex contentious and non-contentious corporate, property and intellectual property cases.

He recently litigated on behalf of a major internet clothing business whose designs had been emulated by a competitor. The proceedings saw the largest number of designs ever considered by the English High Court in a single case. He has registered more than 30 trademarks in various matters and is an accomplished veteran of numerous successful patent applications. He has recently negotiated a settlement with a leading UK insurer for a construction company and has acted for other commercial clients in various types of proceedings including setting aside a freezing injunction obtained by a UK regulator when the regulator was ordered to pay the client’s costs.  Richard assists his clients’ interests internationally as he puts it, “I am an intermediary in dealing with exceptional overseas lawyers, which enables my clients to have a global reach without having to source local legal expertise themselves.”

“Don’t worry – we’ll be able to resolve this”

 The relationships Richard has developed in circa 40 years of practice are built on trust and confidence in his ability to solve problems. “I work with a small number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals,” he says. “They trust me to handle their multi-million-pound deals as they rely on me to bring commercial thinking to their legal problems, and they also ask me to handle their road traffic offences!”

“My breadth of knowledge means I know how to do these things. It enables me to say to clients ‘Don’t worry – we’ll be able to resolve this’. Then, through my knowledge or by consulting with my expert connections, we do.”

Richard stresses the importance of being able to think around a problem. “Some of the best lawyers with the best legal brains feel constrained by the tramlines of the law. You need to think outside the box to be able to develop an answer that fits your client’s particular facts. We must not feel constrained by strict interpretation, that’s not how the law in this country evolved.”

Why GSC?

Richard first encountered Saleem Sheikh, GSC Solicitors’ senior partner, across the table during a shareholder agreement transaction. “I got on well with him,” Richard says. “I think he liked my no-nonsense style. I was thinking of moving my practice and I asked Saleem whether that might interest him. GSC is a firm of specialists solicitors in specialist areas of the law and that fits with the type of practice I wanted to be with. Happily, Saleem agreed.”

Qualifications & Experience

Richard was called to the Bar in 1983 as a member of Middle Temple and completed his pupillage in New Square, Lincolns Inn before developing his practice. What began with “a lot of landlord and tenant work” broadened to include several years working for mortgage lenders, including the UK’s largest mutual, during “the big days of mortgage fraud”.

In 2004 he left chambers to join “a West End firm of lawyers who had a huge amount of high-quality clients but no litigators.” By the time he left in 2008 the firm had 15 litigation lawyers and Richard had built relationships with several of the ultra-high-net-worth clients who retain his services today.

Richard loves his work and has precious little time for much else. “The fun in life is being successful. What drives me at the Bar and drives me at GSC is succeeding for my clients. I get a buzz from it.”

In his brief moments away from work he admits to, “enjoying going to fine dining restaurants and savouring fine quality wines. And my wife and I enjoy spending quality time with our five grandchildren. That’s real wealth, I would say.”

 

 

 

Alla Stepanyants

Whether the specific nature of her role means drafting a will, doing estate administration work, or preparing an application to the Land Registry, Alla is clear about the importance of her role at GSC.

“We help people deal with their assets,” she says. “Often these assets have been accumulated throughout their lives, and it is important to plan for what will happen to them in the future. We help clients prepare for what is next.”

Alla enjoys helping clients plan and is committed to ensuring every detail is addressed. “It is important to be precise, specific and accurate in what you do and say,” she stresses.

Outside of work, Alla is a regular gym-goer. She also enjoys contemporary dance classes, travelling and studying foreign languages.

Qualifications & Experience

Alla attended Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (MGIMO University) (LLB 2013 and LLM 2015).

She holds an LLM from The City Law School, City, University of London 2016 and completed her Graduate Diploma in Law in 2017 and her Legal Practice Course in 2018.

Alla joined GSC as a trainee solicitor in 2018 qualifying in 2020. Private client work was the last area of law in which she trained before qualifying and is the area in which she plans to remain.

She speaks Russian and has a good command of French and Spanish.

 

Stepan Stepanyants

Stepan joined the firm as a trainee solicitor and successfully completed work in different practice areas required to fully qualify. First, he undertook a split seat in litigation and insolvency & restructuring. Conveyancing was next and, with a master’s degree in corporate law, he says he was delighted that his final seat was corporate and commercial.

Stepan’s efficiency, as well as his legal talent, have already been noticed by the firm’s partners and, of course, clients. His dedication has especially been impressive in one of GSC’s large-scale transactions, a £420m acquisition for a long-standing client.

Stepan is driven by deadlines. “I do everything on time, so my clients know they do not have to worry that their work will be done.” It is a trait that has served him well during his training, where Stepan has also enjoyed the cut and thrust of contentious litigation. He is valuing the breadth of experience he has gained across GSC working with Clive HalperinRichard CurtinCarole JosephMatthew Phillips, and Harvey Posener.

Qualified to practise in Russia, Stepan is available to support GSC’s Russian-speaking clientele. “As a Russian speaker, I have some understanding of clients’ needs and expectations,” he says.

Stepan loves travel. Always eager for a new road trip, he is currently planning his next adventure to northern Europe and Scandinavia.

Qualifications & Experience

Stepan attended MGIMO University (2015 LLB and 2017 LLM) and has expertise in Russian law.

He completed the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) with a commendation and the Master of Laws in Legal Practice (LLM LPC) with a distinction at BPP Law School in London.

Before joining GSC in 2020, Stepan worked as a paralegal for Most Law Offices in Moscow. He also interned for the Moscow Arbitration Court and worked as an interpreter for the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation.

Stepan joined GSC as a trainee solicitor in 2020 qualifying in 2022. Corporate work was the last area of law in which he trained before qualifying and is the area in which he has remained.

Stepan is a native Russian speaker and has a good command of French.

 

 

 

 

 

Aaliyah Stephens

“The world has a funny way of laughing at you,” says Aaliyah as she reveals that, whilst she now loves property law, she didn’t enjoy it at university. Why the change of heart? “I’ve been learning from people who’ve been doing it for so long and are so good at teaching you as much as they can – that’s made me really enjoy it. The people make the difference.”

Just six months into her time with GSC when the pandemic struck, Aaliyah is glad to be back at work, and her role is an increasingly involved one. “I’m doing lots of drafting of documents for partner approval and gaining more experience in the detail of the work which I’m really happy about.”

Next on Aaliyah’s agenda is studying for a master’s degree in law with a likely focus on commercial aspects. Then, she hopes to become a fully qualified solicitor with GSC.

“It’s such a family feel here, as cliched as that sounds,” she explains. “I’d love to stay here.”

Qualifications & Experience

Aaliyah has a 2.1 in law which she obtained from De Montfort University in 2018.

Before joining GSC Solicitors, Aaliyah worked as a clerk for Hughes Fowler Carruthers.

 

 

Zhanna Sutton

Zhanna is the first in-house marketing professional in GSC’s history, a fact she acknowledges as part privilege, part challenge. “It’s a privilege because I have been able to build our marketing strategy from a clean slate,” she explains. “It’s a challenge for the same reason!”

Fortunately, Zhanna loves a challenge. “This role has given me the opportunity to apply all my knowledge and skills to shaping and defining our marketing strategy and vision and set the standards to deliver them.”

Her approach to the task is a simple one: treat everyone at GSC as her client. “It’s about the service I provide for them,” she says. “By helping our lawyers to develop their personal brands, I help to further build the firm’s reputation and presence so we make it easier for clients to choose GSC.”

“Another strand of my work is to nurture and grow each client relationship so that, in 10 years’ time, all of those relationships we helped develop are still flourishing.”

Building the brand

A hands-on marketer who develops, delivers and manages all aspects of the firm’s campaigns and business development projects, Zhanna combines strategic planning skills with creative vision, which enables her to brief and work with designers, developers and writers to help bring her strategy to life.

“I like the fact that this role gives me lots of routes for creative expression,” she enthuses. “I also enjoy working with our lawyers to build their personal brands. I love seeing the increased confidence and ability with which they are able to tackle marketing-related tasks. When the BBC asks our lawyers to comment on a particular legal issue, for example, I feel that is a reflection of the good work we are doing.”

Influence on a global scale

Zhanna’s passion for the firm is clear and she is the first to champion its achievements and credentials.

“We are the only law firm of our size in the UK that speaks more than 16 languages,” she says with pride. “We have a broad client portfolio, working with ultra-high net worth individuals, small and scale-up business, and corporations including Channel 4, PRS and Universal Music. We are Legal 500 recommended. Many of our lawyers have been with us for decades which, I have no doubt, is why so many of our clients have been with us for decades too.

“These are powerful elements in what makes GSC unique and, as Head of Marketing, it is important that I ensure we showcase each of these elements to ensure our talent, capability and influence is increasingly seen on a global scale.”

Qualifications & Experience

Zhanna holds a BA Hon degree in Linguistics (Kazakh State University of World Languages) and a BA Hon in Petroleum Engineering (Cambridge University). She won a coveted British Council and FCO scholarship to study her Master’s in Marketing from Kingston University.

A former TV and radio presenter in her native Kazakhstan (as a side job to her main occupation, just like her face modelling career with Dolce Vita model agency in Milan), Zhanna’s corporate professional career began with BP before she moved into the legal and accountancy sectors. Her experience in service industries now spans more than 25 years.

Zhanna is fluent in Russian and Kazakh. She also speaks Turkish and Spanish.

Ross Waldram

Most of Ross’ Intellectual Property (IP) work is with longstanding clients, for whom he is a trusted adviser. “The role is about giving commercial, sensible advice rather than just assessing the pure legalities of a situation,” he says.

This approach applies whether Ross is assisting experienced clients, such as music licensing company PPL PRS Limited and its instructions for copyright enforcement actions, or start-up companies or individuals.

Commercial sensibilities

Another major area of focus for Ross is trade mark law, often in connection with startup businesses. “For any startup, it’s important to have legal support that assesses the situation from a commercial as well as a legal perspective,” he says.

“You may have grounds to object to a trade mark or other sign which appears similar to your branding, but our advice may be to have a conversation with the offending party rather than to litigate. That’s why clients come back to us – because we look for the simpler, more commercially sensible way.”

“My job isn’t to employ clever legal tricks. It’s to help people achieve what they want, to help businesses function better, and to resolve disputes amicably if we can.”

Distinctively GSC

Ross appreciates the unique approach of GSC. “There are a lot of people who’ve been here for a long time. What connects us all is the approach we take. Everyone likes being a lawyer. And even the most senior partners all still do legal work. That’s what makes us us.”

A big rugby fan, Ross used to play regularly but his participation is now rather more passive, as a Saracens season ticket holder. “I used to run a bit, but far less now,” he adds, although he does confess to having “done the odd marathon in my time.”

Qualifications & Experience

Ross joined the firm as a trainee in 2007 and qualified in 2009. Although increasingly focused on IP work, he regularly assists the Employment and Corporate departments, particularly with IP-related elements of their cases.

David Whitlock

A corporate finance banker with almost 40 years’ experience in the City of London, David’s contacts across the corporate/commercial world are far reaching and an asset to GSC’s clients, particularly in relation to banking relationships and debt or equity fund raising.

“I effect introductions,” he says. “I also use my contacts and experience to help clients build better relationships with their banks, so that they can find their way out whatever financial cul-de-sac they have found themselves in.”

David recognises opportunities that lawyers might not, helping to add the value on which GSC’s reputation is built. It’s a role he relishes.

“I just love it,” David says. “I love being part of the City and City life. And I enjoy getting involved in a business and helping to develop it.”

He feels similarly enthusiastic about GSC. “GSC feels as much my baby as anybody else’s. As far as I’m concerned, it has to be the best small law firm in the City of London, bar none.”

David is in fact an active member of GSC‘s management, sitting on the Firm’s Board.

Qualifications & Experience

A career banker with NatWest/RBS, David was Managing Director of the UK Corporate Banking division for ten years. Early retirement saw him join City law firm Stephenson Harwood as Business Development Director. He then joined RSM Baker Tilly where, as a Director at an Accountancy Practice, he was “doing much the same as I’m doing at GSC but within the accountancy world”.

David joined GSC in 2017.