At a career crossroads? Let ambition guide you

February 6, 2023
Sima Kanan


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Sima Kanan is a Corporate Partner with over 17 years’ experience gained at a large City law firm and in-house as a Head of Legal & General Counsel.

Sima joined gunnercooke when she reached a key stage in her career and wanted a new challenge.

After just one year, Sima has a strong client roster including venture capital funds, pension funds and investment managers and is enjoying the work-life balance she’s always wanted.

Here she discusses why ambition was central to her joining and how gunnercooke’s unique environment is helping her focus on clients, winning business and building her practice.

You’ll know it’s time

The decision to establish your own practice is an important one and is often driven by a desire to achieve more for yourself, and your clients.

Whilst there will naturally be some trepidation, high-performing lawyers with a positive mindset have a strong platform for success.

Sima’s story is common amongst gunnercooke Partners…

“I got to a point where I was at a crossroads. I was either going apply for another in-house role or look to fly the nest. I just decided to go for it.

“I even landed my first client just before joining gunnercooke. I was in the middle of a deal as I left my previous employer. The client contacted me and asked if I could take them on and complete the deal.

“It was a massive complement to know that people had faith in me and meant I joined gunnercooke with a client under my belt.”

One year in, and taking on the world

Sima’s combination of drive and ambition has meshed perfectly with the culture and approach at gunnercooke.

It’s helping her differentiate from the competition and push herself to new hights…

“A major success was when I pitched for a client who also spoke to several international, heavy weight law firms.

“I really didn’t think about whether the client was going to call me back, but two weeks later they did and said they’d like to engage me.

“I felt proud about being able to land them. I didn’t join gunnercooke thinking this would even be possible.”

On my terms

Like all gunnercooke Partners, Sima cares deeply about building long-term relationships with clients.

At gunnercooke she is her own boss and is in the privileged position to choose who to work with and when.

Designing your practice to forge mutually beneficial partnerships is hugely rewarding…

“I have ambition to grow my practice, but I am very selective about who I work with. It’s really about the chemistry for me and my clients.

“I’ve got to get on with them, they’ve got to get on with me. I’ve got to really believe in what they want to do, their vision and how they want to build their businesses in the future. If we have that alignment, then I’ll work with them.”

“It’s about being a business partner who demonstrates both the commerciality and practicality that clients hope for when engaging with a legal advisor and that’s what differentiates gunnercooke from other firms. The focus is not on chargeable hours and what you can add to the task list.”

A practice that suits you

As Sima has found in her first year, ambition and professionalism breeds success. At gunnercooke we help all Partners design and build their practice in line with their vision.

It’s just as much about realising your personal goals as your professional ones…

“I’ve sometimes had to turn work away, which is a good problem to have.

“Having the option to say ‘no’ feels empowering. Sometimes you have to say, ‘you know what I’m going to spend time with my family and I don’t need to take this on’.

“In terms of flexibility and choices, it’s always up to me. The autonomy and flexibility to run my client base the way I think works best is my favourite part. I’ve also got the support as and when I need it.”

What now?

Sima’s finding the freedom at gunnercooke is enabling her to scale at an appropriate rate.

She has recently taken on a part time associate and a part time legal administrator whilst running a six-month trainee rotation.

Sima has also laid additional foundations for further growth…

“The nice thing about gunnercooke is you can make it as big or as small as you like, as long as it’s comfortable for you and what you can manage.

“Associates have been fantastic helping me with some of the volume management. I’ve taken on two trainees over the last year who have been hard workers and keen to learn. I didn’t initially think I’d have that much work for trainees, but we soon moved them from three to five days a week!

“I have also formed a consortium with other gunnercooke partners and specialist external consultants who are subject matter experts I can reach out to as and when required to support client projects and transactions.

“It’s all been a really positive experience and has given me clarity on how I can grow my practice in future.”

Any advice?

Organisation-wide collaboration, support networks and insight sharing is at the heart of gunnercooke’s approach.

So, what advice would Sima give someone arriving at their own career crossroads?

“Just take the plunge. Honestly, it’s so cliched but you’ve got nothing to lose.

“Have a go. If it works for you great. If for any reason it doesn’t, then it’s going to be a valuable learning experience. You’re not going to lose anything… so just go for it.”