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.

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.



Mohammed Ubaid

“I deal with copyright infringement,” Mohammed explains. “Usually that’s music being played at certain venues without the appropriate licence. One of the things I enjoy most is that, even though it’s a high-volume caseload, each case is somewhat different. There are situations unique to every case and unique challenges to overcome.”

Mohammed is enjoying the balance in his work that he has found at GSC. “There’s a beautiful mix of being a fee earner and having autonomy over my own caseload. At the same time I’m working with people like Justin [Goldspink] and Ross [Waldram], who are guiding and mentoring me, so I’m getting a lot of exposure in this field and it’s paying dividends in terms of what I’m learning and what I’m able to bring to the firm.”

Building enduring relationships

GSC’s client-centric approach is one that echoes Mohammed’s own. “In IP litigation, for example, when we take a case forward, we don’t just think about the legal aspect,” he says. “We think about the commercial viability and the public importance. We explore the detail of all the implications for the client not only in pursuing a course of action, but in not pursuing it.

“GSC thinks long term. They look beyond the end of the current case, perhaps five, ten, twenty years down the line. They want to build relationships that endure. So do I.”

Why GSC?

“When I was first interviewed for the role at GSC, one of the key features that stood out to me was the longevity of its people. I now see why people stay,” says Mohammed.

“GSC is an environment where the people around you are considerate and understanding and there’s mutual respect. I guess when you enjoy coming to your job, it becomes less of a job.”

Qualifications & Experience

After graduating from City University, London, Mohammed completed an internship in residential property law, and then spent 18 months working in debt recovery litigation with Hamlins LLP.

Eager to complete his SQE (the pathway to qualify as a solicitor in England and Wales) Mohammed wanted to expand his real-world experience. As he notes, intellectual property was something he found intriguing, which led to him joining GSC Solicitors LLP.

Outside of the law, Mohammed has a clear view of what makes for time well spent: “For me, it’s less a case of what I like to do and more about who I like to do it with. I’m a big fan of spontaneous activities, but it’s the people around me that make a good time.”


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.

Ran Yu

Ran specialises in commercial property transactions and secured lending. She has a broad range of experience of acquisitions, financing (for both acquisition and development projects), property management and disposals. Ran’s Chinese heritage and English qualifications enable her to offer her clients – particularly her overseas investors client base – a diversified view that combines expertise in English law with a Chinese perspective.

“My Far East Asian clients usually demand punctuality and will expect me to be available to take enquiries at the weekend. And of course there are obvious time differences to account for,” she says. “At the same time, my clients may not be familiar with all the procedures for investing in projects in the UK, so I am often required to act as a trusted advisor with a commercially attuned mindset. Among other things, it is my role to explain, clarify and aid their understanding of doing business in the UK.”

Building enduring relationships

Ran takes a great deal of pride in her work.

“I enjoy the responsibility of my role,” she says. “I like to get deals done, and I achieve that best by understanding where my clients’ concerns lie and then offering advice and possible alternatives to help them choose what’s best for their business.

“I believe my clients would say that I am focused on results, and that when I deliver a piece of work it will combine quality and attention to detail with speed.”

Why GSC?

“In my previous firm I supported a team of junior lawyers,” Ran explains. “As much as I enjoy that, I strive for a deeper learning curve. I joined GSC to learn from experienced lawyers like Peter Belcher and Harvey Posener who have been experts in the field for a long time. Being a ‘student’ again after my journey as a partner in my previous firm is so refreshing, but it’s all part of my strategy to be a more rounded lawyer able to give better advice to my commercial property clients.”

Qualifications & Experience

Ran read law at the University of Kent before moving to London to complete her LPC and master’s degree (LL.M). In just five years post-qualification with another Legal500 firm, Ran progressed from a newly qualified associate to a partner.

Ran is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

Outside of work, Ran recently qualified as a yoga teacher. Prior to that, she mentored a child for one year through Chance UK. Ran is also a member of UK Society of Chinese Lawyers.