Sarosh Zaiwalla: the first non-white lawyer to start a practice in London

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Sarosh Zaiwalla has represented some of the most powerful people in the world, from members of the Gandhi family to the Tchenguiz brothers. He famously hired – and then let go – Tony Blair when the former Prime Minister was a jobbing barrister.

As the first non-white lawyer to start a practice in the City, his business story is one of tenacity, courage and a keen eye for a business opportunity.

Zaiwalla & Co has maintained its position over the years by sticking to its founder’s original business model: to focus on tough cases and undercut the larger companies. “Magic Circle firms put on a great show and they have high overheads, which they have to pass on to the client. So where they charge the client £1,000 an hour, I charge £500 an hour,” he said.

Zaiwalla has serious clout in the legal industry. His company made the headlines late last year when it represented the Bank of Mellat. The Iranian bank had been caught up in the sanctions battle between the West and Iran. Its assets had been frozen and the organisation was haemorrhaging cash.

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