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 has also been admitted as an Advocate in Pakistan.

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.

 

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.

 

Shahrzad Atai

Profile:

Shahrzad brings a wealth of experience and a global perspective to her practice as a lawyer. With a career spanning over a decade, she has built a reputation for excellence in serving the legal needs of high-net-worth individuals, ultra-high-net-worth families, multinational corporations, and governments across various jurisdictions.


Professional Background:

Shahrzad embarked on her legal journey in 2011 with GSC Solicitors, where she began as a newly qualified solicitor. After honing her skills and expertise, she ventured into diverse roles, including serving as a Partner and Head of International Clients at a prestigious Mayfair Law Firm. There, she founded and led the International Desk, providing legal counsel to numerous high-profile clients and entities. She focused on various areas, including banking finance, financial sanctions and regulations, cross-border transactions, corporate/commercial law, property finance, sharia finance, and dispute resolution.

Before her leadership role at the Mayfair Law Firm, Shahrzad held positions such as Managing Director at Alvarium Investments and Head of the Middle East Desk at the prestigious Mayfair firm. Additionally, her tenure as the head of the legal team within a Kuwaiti family office provided her with invaluable insights into the complexities of private wealth management and international business affairs.

Prior to moving to the UK she worked for Atai & Associates, her family’s law fir for 6 years in corporate, cross border transactions and dispute resolution.


Recognition and Awards:

Shahrzad’s exceptional contributions to the legal field have been recognized with numerous international awards. She has been named Lawyer of the Year for Cross-Border and International matters by reputable publications such as Lawyer International’s Legal 100 and EMG Publishing’s UK SME 500 Awards. Furthermore, she has been hailed as a recommended advisor for Trusts, Structuring, and offshore matters in the Spears 500, 2023 Index.


Academic Pursuits:

Beyond her legal practice, Shahrzad is deeply committed to education and knowledge-sharing. She lectures for the Master of International Economics programs at the University of Orleans and the University of Tours in France, imparting her expertise to the next generation of legal professionals.


Education:

Shahrzad is a UK-qualified solicitor, holding a Master of Laws (LLM) from the College of Law London. She pursued her Law (LLB) undergraduate studies at the University of Hertfordshire and holds a degree in Applied Mathematics from Azad University of Tehran – Iran.


Multilingual Skills:

Fluently multilingual, Shahrzad’s linguistic abilities extend beyond English, encompassing French, Italian, Turkish, Persian, Azerbaijani, and basic Arabic. This proficiency allows her to effectively communicate and navigate complex legal matters in diverse cultural and linguistic contexts.

Shahrzad’s dedication to excellence, diverse expertise, and global perspective make her a trusted advisor for clients seeking sophisticated legal solutions tailored to their unique needs.

 

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.

Tola Balogun

Tola specialises in commercial real estate, residential development, and real estate finance. He has, for many years, worked with a variety of clients including institutional landlords, property developers, national housebuilders, registered providers of social housing, banks and lenders, local councils, sophisticated business owners and investors.

He has a broad range of experience which includes real estate acquisitions and disposals, property development, landlord and tenant matters, asset management, option agreements, overage agreements, section agreements, facility agreements and charging, golden brick transactions, auction transactions, stock rationalisations, and urban regeneration schemes.

His clients commend his ability to target the crux of matters to save time and money, with their bottom line in mind, when negotiating deals and solutions.

Why GSC?

GSC is uniquely placed as a Legal 500 recommended premium provider of legal and professional services in the City of London with global expertise. Our specialists deliver a full suite of integrated commercial and corporate services to a highly diverse client base, as well as synergistic private wealth services to individuals and family offices.

Qualifications & Experience

Tola attended the University of Greenwich, London (2007 LLB Hons), and completed the Legal Practice Course at BPP University, London. He trained and qualified as a solicitor with a top 50 UK law firm, and further developed his career with another top 50 UK law firm, prior to joining GSC.

Sian Bearfield

‘Sian will sort it’ is something any visitor to GSC’s offices is likely to hear numerous times each day. What began five years ago as a health and safety-specific role has expanded in the intervening years.

Sian became office manager in early 2021 and today, with the help of her assistant, she oversees the day-to-day running of the office, including managing building maintenance and contracts, IT, arranging and setting up meeting rooms, maintaining office policies, collating anti-money laundering documentation and assisting fee earners with the preparation of court bundles.

Calm in a crisis

“I like to be a calming, presence in the office,” she says. “I want everyone to feel, no matter what they ask of me, that it’s all in hand. My role is to make sure that we’re all functioning, we’re all keeping together and we’re all communicating.”

Sian’s calming presence was felt most keenly during the pandemic, when she orchestrated the office’s work from home policy, ensuring all fee earners had the equipment and connectivity they needed to be able to continue business as usual.

Supporting the GSC family

“Saleem [Sheikh, senior partner at GSC Solicitors LLP] describes the firm as a family and it very much feels like that to me,” Sian explains. “I like the fact that I’m constantly busy. Most of all, I love the people—they are such fun to work with.”

Outside of work, Sian loves to combine her passion for history with travelling. Scotland is a particular favourite. “I’m a Londoner and I’ve always lived in London. When I was growing up, the countryside was Epping Forest. It was only when I went to university in Wales that I discovered how much untouched, scenic beauty we have to explore.

A Harry Potter fan, Sian still reminisces about the time she spotted Daniel Radcliffe buying a coffee close to the GSC office. “I think I got a smile (at a distance) but that was enough for me.”

Qualifications & Experience

Sian holds undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in history from the University of Swansea.

For several years Sian applied her qualifications at historical sites including Hever Castle in Kent and numerous National Trust properties. Some of her work aligned with her current role (“I did some health and safety work overseeing things like fire extinguishers and electrical equipment within buildings”). Most of the time she was a guide.

After working most weekends for several years, Sian decide to switch to a career which offered more sociable hours.

 

 

 

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.