Meet the Leeds lawyer who aims to cause a ripple effect that changes society

The leading lawyer Pervinder Kaur aims to use mentoring to create a ripple effect that breaks down barriers, writes Deputy Business Editor Greg Wright.

Pervinder Kaur Partner, Head of Private Capital and Head of Leeds Office at Addleshaw Goddard
Pervinder Kaur Partner, Head of Private Capital and Head of Leeds Office at Addleshaw Goddard

THE 18th century looms large in the life of Pervinder Kaur

A period of revolution, it fired Ms Kaur’s fascination with the past and set her on the course to a legal career.

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“I was very good at history,’ she recalled. “I enjoyed the analysis and it was a history teacher called Mrs Stanley who planted the idea of me becoming a lawyer, despite the fact my parents wanted me to have a medical career. One individual can change your whole perception of yourself.”

“I like the narrative behind the sweep of history in periods like the 18th century. If you look at the changes happening now, there are certainly parallels.”

Over the last quarter of a century, Ms Kaur has risen through the ranks to become the head of the Leeds office at Addleshaw Goddard, which has its own ties with the 18th century.

“Our firm was founded in 1775 and is older than some countries,’’ she added. “I pride our firm on its ability to adapt and not stand still.”

Ms Kaur has witnessed dramatic changes in the legal and commercial world since she joined Addleshaw Goddard, which was then known as Booth & Co, as a trainee in 1994.

Ms Kaur, who was recently recognised as Yorkshire’s Private Client Lawyer of the Year, is head of the firm’s private capital team and part of the firm’s corporate department.

Earlier this summer, it was announced that she would succeed Simon Kamstra as head of the firm’s Leeds office for three years.

“I’m a different voice and a different face and but the vision and strategy of our firm remains the same,’’ she said.

“We are dedicated to bringing quality, imagination and positive impact to our clients, our people, and the communities we work in, with a strongly-held belief in the importance of unlocking potential.

“We want to create the conditions where everyone is supported and we believe in the critical importance of diversity and inclusivity in all of its forms. We are also committed to minimising our impact on the environment.”

The firm, which employs 570 staff in its Sovereign Square HQ, plans to continue growing into continental Europe, which will complement its offices in Asia and the Middle East.

“I wanted to be a lawyer because the law provides you with a set of rules, which you then interpret to come to find a solution that works for the situation that is being faced,’’ Ms Kaur said. “I like the dual aspect of that.”

To 21st century eyes, the business world of the early 1990s can seem a remote and plodding place.

“When I joined, we didn’t have PCs and there was no email,’’ said Ms Kaur. “Fax was cutting edge technology. There is a tendency to have a rose-tinted view of the past, but there were frustrations with the world of work in those days.

“Some timing issues on projects simply could not be solved and everything moved at a slower pace. The speed of communication these days drives things forward.

“The greater immediacy of communication is not necessarily negative but we need to self-impose time to stop and think, to clear our heads as we receive information.

“Technology gives us more scope to work internationally. The international element of my work has increased - clients with interests in the US, Africa, India, the Middle East - particularly during lockdown.”

She has been encouraged by the significant investment in Leeds after the turmoil caused by the financial crash.

She added: “The relocation of Channel 4, the BBC, HMRC and other major government departments has also been a positive move for Leeds - it sends a clear message about the strength of this international city as a place to do business and to live.

“One of the great strengths of Addleshaw Goddard is that we provide all our services across the firm in a similar way. As a group of lawyers we enjoy working with one another and that comes across.

“Businesses have shown great ability to adapt during the pandemic. It’s the nature of the Yorkshire people. They are resilient and there has been an enormous amount of support from businesses around the city and from the council.”

During the height of the pandemic, Addleshaw Goddard opened up its kitchens to provide 400 meals for people from St George’s Crypt in Leeds, a charity which has been helping the homeless, the vulnerable and those suffering with addiction since 1930.

“We weren’t using the kitchen to full capacity and wanted to help. Covid-19 has affected everyone in the city and we are all in this together,’’ she said.

She is also passionate about mentoring and aims to encourage other women to seek positions of influence.

She added: “I have always believed that if you can inspire five people to do something they didn’t feel they could do then you are creating a ripple effect that can change society.

“I feel it’s important to be a role model for women. If you actually look at business and the professions now, there are women who hold senior roles.

“I have seen this over the course of my career, with more women taking the most senior leadership posts. You have to be brave enough to profile yourself and, in doing so, I hope to have inspired others.”

The words of a true revolutionary.

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