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Q&A with Dr. Raheem Salifu Kasim, esq

Raheem Salifu Kasim, Parnter - Kumble & CO
Raheem Salifu Kasim, Parnter - Kumble & CO

In 1987, Dr. Raheem Salifu Kasim joined Kumble Law as a second-year associate. Thirty years later — with over three decades of practice experience.

A registered attorney, Raheem has dedicated his career to Arbitration, Mediation, Negotiations, Settlement & Alternative Dispute Resolution and Corporate Law. In addition to his litigation work, Raheem frequently speaks at conferences, annual meetings, and universities in over three continents, and he provides commentary in major law, science, business, and technology publications.

In between unpacking his office and fielding client phone calls, Raheem took a few moments to share his thoughts on working with Kumble & Co with Ella Christensen.

What made you want to be a lawyer?

I grew up around lawyers and I think that has, to some degree, influenced my own decision to study law at university and to practice law. Law is an interesting subject for me and it is a discipline that is constantly evolving to reflect changes in the wider economy and society as a whole. For example, two decades years ago, mobile commerce did not really exist in the mainstream, but now it is everywhere and the law, as well as lawyers, must adapt to keep up with advances in technology. All in all this makes for an interesting and varied career.

What is your area of practice?

My expertise is in Corporate law basically but I have spent over 20 years in the Litigation area as well.

Describe a typical day at work.

I am a morning person by nature, so I generally like to start my day early by catching up on the latest local and international news, checking my emails and my schedule for the day. I adjust my work schedule daily if urgent matters crop up or the deadlines change. Beyond that there really is no such thing as a typical day at work because I could be doing anything from negotiating the terms of a major acquisition at 4 a.m. to writing a legal opinion on loan finance documentation at 11 p.m.

I’ve been known to say that litigation work and transaction work require such different temperaments that it should be easy enough to figure out whether one is a litigation person or a contracts person. Obviously, things weren’t that clear-cut for you. How do you think this played out in your case?

Good question. I have had the good fortune at Kumble law fortunately for me, to work with an array of talented lawyers. And it occurs to me that not all successful litigators share the same temperament, just as I am confident that not all successful deal lawyers share the same temperament.

But one characteristic that all of these successful lawyers share is good judgment. By that, for example, I mean knowing when meticulous attention to detail matters versus not losing sight of the forest for the trees. Or recognizing which disputes in a given negotiation are high value or high risk and must be prioritized. Knowing when you need to tell your client (and the other party) that a given course of action isn’t appropriate, and knowing how to explain your reasoning in ways that ideally promote everyone’s interests. Everything else can be learned, with sufficient time and effort, but sound judgment is impossible to cultivate if the seed isn’t already there. If a lawyer has good judgment, then he or she can learn the rest and be a successful litigator, or transaction lawyer, or estate-planning lawyer, et cetera.

What would you say to any litigator contemplating a career-change to contracts work?

Don’t underestimate the value of the skills you already have acquired. Contract drafting and negotiating a deal (as opposed to negotiating a litigation settlement) are very different from what you have been doing, but your experience as a litigator has tremendous value. Seek out good mentors who do the type of contracts work you’re contemplating. Take CLE courses relevant to your anticipated area of practice. Then, just go for it.

What part of being a lawyer do you personally find most satisfying? Most challenging?

As a lawyer, I get to work for and with all kinds of people from all walks of life and different countries, which I personally think is great. In a perfect world, everything will always go smoothly and according to plan. However, in reality things sometimes do not go entirely according to plan for reasons wholly outside your control and you have to be prepared to react to such situations as and when they arise and be able to come up with workable solution. This is true even in the legal profession. Such challenges keep the work interesting and, ultimately when you successfully pull off the contingency plan, make it extremely rewarding.

Who are your clients?

I have both local and international clients. I recently represented an oil company in an oil spill case against a top government. My local work is mostly related to Investment and Securities contract.

What’s the most valuable thing that you do for your clients?

I give them honest advice. I think often clients come in with very high expectations that are not grounded in the law. Some lawyers are willing to tell them whatever they want to hear. I don’t do that.

What’s something your clients would never guess about you?

Probably that I have their best interest at heart. Their legal success is my success as well.

Being a lawyer can be stressful at times, how do you maintain a good work-life balance?

I am fortunate to work with a great team of people here at Kumble Law, which as almost everyone will tell you, is a major motivator. I also believe that in order to be a good lawyer and to perform to the best of one’s abilities, one needs to have quality downtime to fully unwind. I love fine dining, travel and spending time with my family (though, in case anyone is wondering, not necessarily in that order).

Why were you suspended?

Well it was just a misunderstanding basically. A technically glitch I called it. A client sent an email to me which was picked up by the system as a complaint. But that has been sorted. It's good to be back.

If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be?

I would probably be a criminologist.

Thank you Lawyer Raheem Salifu Kasim for your time. We wish you the best.

Thank you Ella and I will see you around.

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