Kamal Rahman is a Partner in Mishcon Private and is Head of the Immigration Group. Her work covers Investors, exceptional or complex nationality applications, economic citizenship, rights under European law and family related immigration. Her international client base comprises some of the wealthiest individuals and families seeking to establish a base in the UK whose lifestyles are often difficult to ‘fit’ into the constraints of the immigration rules.
I said to my father, I would like to do an economics degree and being a good traditional Indian father he said, Economics? What’s economics? Why not law or medicine or dentistry? That’s the only reason I’m a lawyer.
In my training contract I worked with an amazing lawyer called Henry Brown. He was just phenomenal. He taught me how to be a lawyer and have some humanity. I ended up working with him on a couple of really important immigration cases.
Generally I get clients from situations where there is a combination of high levels of wealth creation, and geopolitical pressures. Clients tend to have made their money in their country of origin where the volatility is much higher and once they’ve achieved a level of wealth they want safety of funds as well as safety of family – the UK addresses those two issues.
Our clients are cash rich, time poor – they want a solution quickly. They want to be able to travel freely at short notice, so the availability of their passports when they’re making immigration applications is very, very important. Because our client base has always been this way, we’ve developed really good relationships with the Home Office allowing us to get things done discretionally and quickly. We’re results driven and solution focused. We never say, here is the law and you’ve got to fit into it.
Sir Martin Sorrell was applying for a first British passport for his British baby daughter. He and his wife travel all the time, but to secure their daughter’s passport they would have had to send theirs off. Their daughter couldn’t travel with them and they couldn’t leave her behind. They came to us and said, can you do something? We contacted the passport office in Belfast and had one of our people fly there for the day, show them the passport and bring it back again. Two days later it was sorted.
I know I’ve done my job right if I do work for one client and they refer two back. Every time, it’s about looking after the client, going the extra mile and being creative. Being really concerned about what’s right for clients, rather than just treating their case as a legal exercise.
Immigration is such a specialism that if I just stayed on the immigration island I’d get very bored. I’ve always connected with other areas of the firm because that’s the way we best look after our clients.
I have a cultural affinity both to the Middle East and Asia. There are cultural similarities that have allowed me to be a cultural chameleon. I was born Hindu but I married somebody who was Muslim so my first name is Indian and Hindu, my surname is Muslim.
The Middle East has always had a lot wealth, but it hasn’t had the same geopolitical pressures that it does today. People with high levels of wealth in the region want some safety as well. The Middle East is a very big region for us at the moment.
Cultural immersion and cultural sensitivity and knowledge go a long, long way. To know when you shake hands or you don’t shake hands. To know what you’re supposed to wear. To know that in the Middle East people are more polite and flowery in their use of language, that you always begin any communication with, how is the family?
I don’t network, I build relationships. I don’t make my practice and my engagement with clients transactional.