22 Aug 2019

Interview - Fayaz Hajee Abdoula

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Partner at BLC Robert & Associates in Ebene, Mauritius.

Fayaz Hajee AbdoulaTell us a bit about yourself and what attracted you to law?

I joined BLC Robert & Associates (BLC Robert) in 2008, after having done my studies in the UK. I did my LLB at the University of Manchester and completed my Bar Vocational Course at the Inns of Court School of Law in London. I was then called to the Mauritius bar in January 2010. BLC Robert is the only company I have worked for during my career. I started as a pupil and was made partner at the end of last year. My main area of expertise is corporate and employment law. 

During my school days, I had always envied barristers. Having completed my secondary education, I asked myself why I could not be one of those barristers too.  

In terms of your career choice, who has had the biggest influence?

I was encouraged by family members to fulfil my wishes. I was apprehensive as to whether I would be successful as there were many lawyers being called to the bar every year, and it is a fact that Mauritius is a small jurisdiction. At the time, the word cross-border, and the fact that Mauritius was an international financial centre, were not known to me. But my Dad encouraged me to pursue my studies in law and told me: “No matter how many lawyers there are, success is guaranteed provided that you are a hard worker and you enjoy what you do”.

What did you learn from your secondment? 

The focus at the beginning of my career was mainly on legal skills to become a better lawyer. What I learnt from my secondment in terms of my career is that legal skills are indeed extremely important, but soft skills are equally as important as legal skills in order to have a successful career. 

What is the greatest achievement, and the biggest challenge, of your career?

My greatest achievement in terms of my career was to be made partner last year. The biggest challenge that I have had to overcome is the work/life balance. Being a father of two children, you must deliver on the exigencies of the work and spend time with your family at the same time. At times it has been very difficult to separate myself from work, when not at the office. I cannot count the number of times my elder son and my wife have told me: “I am talking with you, why don’t you answer?” 

In the next five or ten years, what do you hope to achieve?

I hope to achieve the level of ‘Senior Partner’ at BLC Robert and I hope to be able to give my children a good education and upbringing, such that they can be successful in their careers.

Name one person who inspires you, and why? 

My managing partner, Iqbal Rajahbalee. I have been very unfortunate to lose my Dad, who passed away when I was pursuing my tertiary education. Iqbal has been a father figure for me.  From day one, he has given me a lot of time with some very precious advice, which I will always cherish.

What advice would you give to aspiring lawyers? 

There is no reason for you not to have a successful career if you are committed to your firm, work hard and have the right attitude. The only qualification to that would be that you have to choose the right employer.

Given Mauritius’ growth in the last 5 years, where do you see the most opportunities for the legal industry?

The legal industry will have to change and adapt to the rapid evolvement of technology, namely artificial intelligence and blockchain. Law firms will have to invest heavily in technology.

How do you think the legal profession will develop in the next 10 years? 

Lawyers should not limit themselves to being just legal advisors, but should be able to differentiate themselves from others by demonstrating a wider commercial understanding of clients’ businesses and matters, as well as offering sound legal expertise promptly. While technology will have an important role in certain areas, it will not be able to surpass other areas.

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