#Role Models - Sheena Sood

Sheena Sood, Senior Partner

I am the Senior Partner of Beale & Co. My role involves advising clients on a number of different issues including contentious construction, professional negligence and health and safety.

Another significant part of my role involves working alongside colleagues in the leadership team in leading the strategy and direction of the firm and management of various issues internally. I have an external facing role representing the firm with a significant part of my time spent on business development.

I grew up in West London with my parents and three siblings. My parents emigrated from India to the United Kingdom in the 1960s, and both worked full time. I attended a local comprehensive school up to A-levels and had a number of Saturday/summer jobs throughout my education. My parents stressed the importance of education to us from an early age and this is a value which has stayed with me to this day.

My father was called to the Bar in London and completed a pupillage but never obtained a position with Chambers. It was his desire to forge a career in law and untimely death which largely inspired me to pursue a legal career. My interest in the law also came from volunteering at my local Citizen’s Advice Bureau which I found to be really valuable work experience. During school, I was accepted into Brunel University to study computer science. However, at the last minute, encouraged by my family, I requested my course to be changed to law and this was luckily accepted! I owe so much to the unfailing support of my mum through my education and beyond.

My law degree at Brunel University was a thin sandwich LLB course and involved working in industry for 3 summers out of the 4 years of the course. The first industry experience I gained was working within the legal department of the London Borough of Hounslow for 6 months. Working with its dedicated lawyers on child protection issues was eye opening. I then sought to obtain experience in a private practice law firm which I discovered was difficult, especially with no links to the legal industry. I wrote letters to a number of different firms requesting work experience placements. Of the letters I wrote only two law firms responded, one of which was Beale & Co which then offered me a (paid!) placement. During this placement and subsequent placements with them, I worked closely with Antony Smith on contentious construction work, gaining great experience. This is where I gained an interest in the construction industry. I particularly enjoyed helping clients to get disputes solved and the ‘highs and lows’ of litigation. Mainly the highs! The skills required go beyond pure legal knowledge.

I was offered articles (a training contract!) in 1990 and went on to qualify in 1992. I have stayed at the firm since qualification and so have been working at Beale & Co for almost 30 years! One of the key reasons why I enjoy working at the firm are the people and the clients I work with. I also enjoy the many different internal business aspects to my role as well as the external aspects of business development. The day job is incredibly varied, mentally challenging and interesting.

One of the ongoing challenges I have found with working in the legal industry is achieving a good work life balance. I have two children Shania and Ash and, whilst by no means easy, through the support of my colleagues and my husband Sanjay, I was able to both progress at the firm and raise a family. I believe they have benefitted from seeing me go out to work and progress in my career whilst at the same time being there for them and having them as my absolute priority.

My advice to those embarking on their careers is to listen hard and learn from others, to always maintain a professional approach with colleagues, clients and all others you interact with along the way and, above all, to be yourself.