Imran Khurshid’s chance encounter with law is to immigrants’ benefit
2018-08-01 08:49:35 -
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By Finn Hoogensen

Some people are the architects to their own career, and find their way through their own design. Others discover what they want to do purely by chance.

Imran Khurshid is one of the latter, and says he became a lawyer by accident. With a background in banking, he never foresaw a career in law, but over the last 10 years he says he has discovered a passion for the subject. 

Starting out as a secretary at a law firm, Khurshid now oversees his own practise and has earned a strong reputation for helping immigrants and asylum seekers in Ireland.

An immigrant himself, Khurshid left behind a job in banking in Pakistan to seek a new career path. He arrived in Ireland in 2007 with the plan of obtaining an MBA from Trinity College, then returning to Pakistan to find work. That was before he landed an administrative position at a law firm.

“I was just applying [for] jobs everywhere. I got a job at a law firm, and that’s how it changed everything,” Khurshid says. “Originally I was a commerce student, but this job changed the whole career for me.”

While working at that job, he cultivated an interest in the legal profession, enjoying the opportunity it provided to help people. This inspired him, he says, to drop his plans of attending Trinity. Instead, he enrolled in legal studies at King’s Inns, where he completed his diploma in 2011. 

From there, Khurshid worked at carving his niche in Ireland’s legal world. For a few years that followed, he worked positions at multiple firms, primarily practising corporate law.

“I loved corporate law,” Khurshid says. “I was never meant to come to the immigration field. I never thought about that.”

Nonetheless, immigration law came to him, through friends who would ask for his advice on various legal matters. They knew he was knowledgeable in the subject, and he would give advice for free. After doing this for a while, Khurshid realised he could make a business out of it, and in 2014 he started his own immigration consultancy office.

At the time, Khurshid wasn’t a solicitor or a practicing barrister, so he worked as a consultant assisting with administrative work such as visa applications, reviews and appeals, EU treaty rights applications and asylum appeals. This work helped him earn a living and it also gave him the opportunity to help others.

“There are so many people who are genuine people who have genuine troubles [and] genuine problems they are facing about their immigration status, about their family problems and so many other things,” Khurshid says. “They don’t know what to do [and] they don’t know how to do, and small little advice can fix those things … I admire that we are helping people.”

Understanding issues

In 2016, Khurshid was called to the bar and converted his consultancy into the legal practise firm it is today. His firm, IK and Co Solicitors, practises in many areas of law but tends to specialise in immigration law.

Being an immigrant helps Khurshid understand the issues and concerns that other immigrants face, he says. “They can talk freely to me. I can just literally sit with them [for] 10 minutes and I know what the problem is and what they want.

“Especially when someone is from Pakistan or India or Bangladesh, I can easily understand the problem and their story because I already know what is happening there.”

Another reason Khurshid is helpful to clients, he says, is because he is fluent in multiple languages: English, Urdu, Punjabi and Hindi. He says his clients feel more comfortable when they can speak a common language and he can easily understand their problems.

A lot of the problems Khurshid sees back in Pakistan and the surrounding region are political and geo-economically related. The US-led ‘war on terror’ has been particularly destructive, he says, while he also references political instability and religious violence as reasons many people seek asylum, and why people in Ireland come to him for legal help. “[In] asylum cases, people have fear [that] if they’re going to be sent back they will be killed, threatened to be killed or tortured. If you save them, that’s your achievement,” he says.

The work Khurshid does can be difficult, he affirms, but rewarding. And he hopes to do more by expanding the team at his firm, so that they can continue to provide services in immigration law as well as other legal areas.

Overall, Khurshid is happy with the route he took to find a career in law, and he sees himself staying in Ireland for the foreseeable future. 

“This country gave me a lot … In the last ten years, I achieved a lot,” he says. “I got love, help, support and assistance from Ireland, and that is why I’m here.”
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