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My work life: Sabah

Legal Counsel, Sabah, on her experience at Zopa and her career moves so far

I loved my time studying law

Every parent in India wants a doctor or a lawyer in the house! My parents advised me to go into law. I enjoyed every day of those three years that I studied it and thank them to this day.

I heard about the “Magic Circle”

Someone shared this phrase with me, commonly used for the 5 leading UK firms. This sparked my ambitions and I decided to apply.

It felt like a long shot, all the way from a law school in India. But I believe that when you set your mind to something and believe in it, you can make it happen.

I was offered a place at a Magic Circle firm

And that’s where I trained and qualified as a lawyer. I learnt a lot during that time and worked alongside some great legal minds.

The work was interesting, but with long hours. I was regularly working until 4 or 5am. Around this time, my husband and I began talking about starting a family and I just couldn’t see myself sustaining that lifestyle.

I decided to take some time out to explore one of my passions, and enrolled for a master’s at Sotheby’s Institute of Art. It was a magical year, and one that helped enrich me. After that I worked in marketing for a retail company, with regular hours, and flexibility that allowed me to raise my newborn son.

But something in me always wanted to return to law, a profession that I loved and had worked hard to succeed in.

After my second maternity leave, I decided to return to law

And although I was nervous, I was also confident in my decision – I had set my mind on it.

Zopa helped me make it happen: my manager struck me as someone who was passionate about women returning to law. She was always very encouraging, she helped me understand the possibilities that I had in front of me.

Every day is different

And that’s what I thrive on. Being a small in-house legal team, we all do a bit of everything.

Work ranges from reviewing and negotiating commercial contracts, resolving data protection issues, helping with employment contracts and ad hoc queries, to researching the image rights for having Sir Isaac Newton on our beta credit card!

The best thing about Zopa is the people I work with.

Everyone here is so warm, and they all have genuine mutual respect for each other. I love that each person I work or interact with is different to the next, but what they all have in common is that they are lovely people.

I’d describe the Zopa culture as…

Open, and customer focused. At the heart of everything is the desire to make money simple and fair for consumers.

This real customer focus at Zopa is amazing and makes me proud of what I do. I genuinely enjoy walking into work. I like Mondays and believe it or not, I like coming back from holiday!

It’s great to work at a place that embraces flexible working

There are days I have a lot on my plate, as I’m sure many others do; juggling a challenging fast-paced work role, two lovely (but slightly silly) boys, and a husband who has an equally demanding job and social life.

But the culture here is genuinely understanding about each person’s needs and their priorities outside of work. The minute I walk into work, I feel calm and happy.

Returning to a high-pressure legal career after 7 years was daunting

At first, I was anxious about whether I could even apply my mind to legal issues again. But the team was hugely supportive. They instantly helped me relax. Their trust helped me to grow and learn very quickly.

My fear of not being able to have a successful legal career again is gone. People can grow and explore new opportunities, to make what they want of their career. There is space for everyone.