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“I want to work and be with my family, so flexibility is important”

Zahra Samadi - Lawyer

Zahra Samadi started working at AKD in 2015, as a student. Now she is a lawyer and a mother. Her work as part of the Banking team is dynamic and unpredictable, regularly playing merry hell with family logistics. But Zahra wouldn't have it any other way. “Transacting gives me so much energy!”

As a law student, I was curious to find out how the theoretical stuff I was learning clicked with the practical side of the law. That is why I started working as a legal assistant - a jack of all trades of sorts - in the Banking & Finance practice group. There was instant chemistry. In fact, only a year later I was offered a job as a paralegal. It would mean that as a paralegal I could slide into the training programme for the legal profession straight away.

Wonderful opportunity

It was a wonderful opportunity: I started working four days a week, learning the tricks of the trade from my colleagues. At the same time, I continued my study programme, taking classes at night and on Fridays. That's how I got through my final years of my bachelor's degree and every year of my master's degree. Not the easiest of schedules, not at all, but I knew what I was doing it for: I invest in AKD, they invest in me. That felt great - it still does!

Even so, I did not get stuck into the professional training programme right away in 2018, for in 2019 my little boy was born. I wanted to take the time to get used to our new life and not to have to bury my nose in the books straight away. The AKD partner who mentored me at the time was very understanding, which was great. The firm allowed me time to get on with the training whenever I was ready. When our little boy turned two, I felt the need to enhance my development. Which is why in 2021 I started the professional training programme and was sworn in as a lawyer.

Mentor

I'm still part of the same team, which now consists of a partner, an associate partner, an associate and three junior associates, including myself. As a junior associate, I do have a special position what with all my experience. We want to offer the two other juniors the best support, so one shares a room with the partner, and the other one with me. I like being a mentor because I know for certain that it can be hard to walk into a busy partner's office to ask a question. I get questions ranging from material matters to practical questions about the skiing trip, which I've been on myself for a couple of times now. I'm now reaping the benefits from my experience working here: I can focus on my professional training, because the work comes relatively easy to me.

And yet I never know on Monday what the rest of the week will be like. Every morning I take my son to the day care centre or to my parents and then drive straight to work. I check my emails, read documents, draft letters and more, and have calls and meetings with colleagues or clients. I answer questions from trainees or juniors or meet with a partner to bounce some ideas off of them. Times can turn pretty hectic whenever a closing is coming up: there may be last-minute changes or the right papers have not come in yet. I love the speed at which we change gears trying to get the transaction through, gives me so much energy!

Flexibility

By now I know what's the most efficient way to bring order to my working day, so I don't have to do much at night. Still, there are times when I have to work nights. That's part and parcel of our jobs, I think, definitely in our practice. So to be able to combine my work and my family, I need a lot of flexibility. I'm happy to say that, luckily, AKD allows me all the flexibility I need. I'm the only junior associate with a kid, but I'm never made to feel uneasy or heavy-hearted about it. They give me the freedom to arrange my work exactly so that I can be a good lawyer as well as a good mother.

Two days a week, I leave at around 5pm to collect my son. On those days, I'm off the air until about 9pm, when I log on again to finish my work. My colleagues will never push me, they know I get on the job when I have time. I cherish that trust. The other days, my husband will pick up our son, so I can stay in the office a bit longer. My parents and his parents are always on stand-by as well, and help us out when our boy is ill, for example, and my husband and I both have important meetings. Without that safety net and the flexibility offered by AKD, I couldn't work a full-time job. So I'm immensely grateful for that.

Growth

It is quite a challenge at times to keep so many plates in the air. But I thoroughly enjoy my work, my clients, and my team allows me what room I need to grow, as a person and as a professional. I began my career at AKD as a student, who knows what the future will bring? One thing is clear, though, if you ask me: that future will be at AKD!