From fighter pilot to Lawyer - Gary Assim looks at the journey of his career which sees him reaching chairman of the WSG network and back in his home city of London.
Years ago, from about the age of 7, I set out to become an RAF fighter pilot, but half-way through my training my eyesight started to drop off the 20/20 vision required, so I could no longer fly. The RAF kindly offered me the opportunity to switch to a different field, such as engineering. However, I felt that simply wasn't going to be as exciting as being a fighter pilot.
After taking some time out to think about what I was going to do, I started on a management trainee scheme at Lombard North Central (LNC), which involved spending six months in various parts of the business, one of which was their legal team. That's where I discovered that the law was an area that interested me and that I could see myself working in. So I decided to go back to university to read law.
My time at LNC proved quite helpful as I had dealt with a number of external firms whilst I was there. One of those was Travers Smith in London who took me on as a trainee and I subsequently qualified with them working in their commercial litigation team. After a couple of years in my role there, I was asked to advise an American client who had an Intellectual Property dispute. In those days IP Law was not that commonplace, and nobody in the firm had any experience in this area, so I was asked to deal with it. It just so happened that the same client then went on to have a number of additional IP disputes, which I spent most of my time advising them on. This was just before the IP Law changed in the UK and Europe in 1994. Having been there at the start of it all, I realised that this was a very interesting new area of the law to get involved in, and that's how I ended up specialising in IP.
I joined Shoosmiths in 1997 to work with the one IP partner the firm had at the time to try and build up our expertise. Along the way I set up the Milton Keynes office in 2000 and headed that up until 2010.
In 2003 the firm was invited to join the international professional services network, the World Services Group, and I was one of three partners who met with the WSG management who ultimately confirmed our membership. Since that time I have got to meet almost all of the member firms in the network and have co-ordinated work from those firms to people within Shoosmiths. I was appointed to the board of the WSG in 2013 and in 2015 became chairman of the network. This coincided with the firm opening its first permanent London office for many years. As a Londoner and now international liaison partner for the firm it made sense to relocate 'back home' to London and join the new London office where I am now based.