Why Nottingham? Kirin Abbas gives us her perspective

In the first “Why Nottingham” piece of 2020, we sit down with Kirin Abbas, corporate immigration lawyer and founding director of Paragon Law.

Q1: When Did You Start to Work in Nottingham?

I commenced my legal career in April 2000 with Berryman Solicitors (now Shakespeare Martineau) as an immigration law paralegal. At the time I had just completed my Masters in International Human Rights at the University of Nottingham and was looking to start the Legal Practice Course at Nottingham Law School, where I am now a visiting lecturer in European Law. Following an MBO of the immigration department at Berryman, my co-director Thal and I set up Paragon Law in 2003 which to this day remains a niche immigration law firm.

Q2: What Attracted You to The City?

A number of factors. Two great universities to continue my legal studies, close family members who live here and a close network of friends from university who had also decided to stay. The niche area of law that I wanted to pursue my career in was immigration law and as is the case to some extent even today, the main law firms and NGO’s that work in this area are based in London, a city which for me is a nice place to visit but not work. I had visions of commuting on the yellow line for the rest of my life and therefore I was lucky that the role at Berryman came at the right time. Nottingham for me at that time was very much like London but condensed into a smaller place. Nice restaurants, good destination place for shopping, a vibrant and diverse student city.

Q3: How Has It Changed During Your Time Here?

It has been good to see the Nottingham business community come together to promote the city as a place to live, work and set-up in business. As a firm we have been involved in hosting international delegations to the city and promoting the opportunities for investors and showcasing our communities and talent. We should however be doing a lot more of this.

Whilst recently Nottingham might have lost its edge as a destination for shopping and this is apparent from the number of retailers that have “closed shop” and left the city centre, I hope that this might be a temporary blip whilst the Broadmarsh site is redeveloped. That said, there is a vibrant independent retail and leisure sector supported by a vibrant independent arts and music scene particularly around Hockley and the Creative Quarter. As a city we should support local initiatives as much as possible.

Both of our universities continue to go from strength to strength and it has been good to see that they are working jointly on initiatives and research. I have not seen this in other cities and it certainly gives us the edge.

There have been a number of commercial developments since I have started to work in Nottingham and it is encouraging to see the number of cranes up and about.

Q4: What is/are the biggest challenges we face as a city compared with our regional “rivals” and nationally

I do not think that we have a unique challenge over and above our rivals. As any city we are competing for the best talent to come to or stay in Nottingham. We have to be prepared to sell to inward investors our credentials and USP’S and why Nottingham should be the location of choice. You can be assured that our rivals will be doing the same.

Q5: How long is your daily commute and how do you get into the city?

I live in West Bridgford and my office is in the Creative Quarter. I usually drive in on days when I have meetings at client premises and when the weather allows and upon occasion if I have no external meetings I will walk. Driving takes about 10 minutes and walking about 40 minutes.

Q6: What are your favourite places to eat and drink for business and pleasure?

In no particular order and to name a ‘few’ Iberico, World Service, Tamatanga, 200 Degrees, Kayal, Broadway, Hockley Arts Club, No. Twelve and Botti di Mamma.

Q7: Finally, if you had a blank canvas, what would you like to see happen in the next 12 months?

The UK has a smooth transition leaving the EU with no or minimum impact to GDP, jobs and exports.

Locally, I would like to see the Broadmarsh and Central Library development completed. Hopefully, this will encourage good quality retailers to come, return to and stay in Nottingham.

A greater collaboration between the regional cities so that we leverage our individual strengths will benefit both the Regional economy and Nottingham in terms of attracting inward investment.