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Advice to my younger self
London partner Dipen Sabharwal on what he wishes he had known

December 2021: Dipen Sabharwal QC is a partner in White & Case's International Arbitration Practice. He also serves as Head of our India Country Practice. He looks back on his career and reflects on what he's learnt so far.

Being international is embedded in everything we do
On a typical day, I'll deal with matters, clients and colleagues across multiple countries. (Today it's Singapore, Sri Lanka, France, Brazil and Peru.) My team in London include colleagues from Brazil, Nigeria, Poland and Singapore. That's the exciting reality of being an international lawyer.

Everyone experiences imposter syndrome
Lawyers have a steep learning curve, especially as associates. You learn so much in a short space of time. Everyone can feel out of their depth and worried that they can't do it. Ask for support, break down the task and keep going.

Pro bono work is one of the ways you can make a mark here
Working at a major law firm means that you get a chance to use our shared skills and resources for the good of others. One case has stayed with me: an asylum application for a Colombian refugee. The stakes were truly life or death—if he had been sent back, he faced a real risk of being killed. Seeing his face when he was granted asylum really brought it home that we can, and do, make a meaningful difference.

You can make lifelong friends at work
As a UK, Indian and US-qualified lawyer, naturally I wanted to join an international law firm. When I started at White & Case in New York, I knew literally no one in the city. My fellow juniors were from French-speaking Canada, the Dominican Republic, Switzerland and Germany. Together we started our careers and explored the city. We remain friends today.

Being a lawyer is a marathon, not a sprint
As a young lawyer, it's easy to keep your head down, work hard and just try to move up the ranks quickly. Now I see the benefits of understanding the bigger picture. Context and perspective is important.

Say "Yes, and…" not just "Yes"
It's important to say yes to any opportunities that come your way, but it's also important to follow up to make sure that you manage expectations. Don't over-promise and under-deliver. Be transparent about any constraints and what's realistic.

Clients don't come to us with the easy work
We're not the Firm that clients turn to with their run-of-the-mill legal challenges. They come to us for solutions that move the needle, for innovative work that makes a difference.

You'll surprise yourself with what you can achieve
Do the work, be prepared, but then step out of your comfort zone. As a junior lawyer, I cross-examined a witness about a subject in which he was an expert, and I was certainly not. To paraphrase Mike Tyson, everyone has a plan until their witness gets on the stand. But I got through it, learnt a lot and the next time was easier.