We are delighted to share with you features and essays written by super women with inspiring careers and businesses that are reshaping our economy and the way we consume. They share their journey, the process it took them to get to where they are now and what they’ve learnt along the way. Welcome to Modern Mentors.
Growing up in an immigrant household, I understood the value of hard work and ingenuity from an early age which led me to make bold choices in my career. I left my corporate law firm life to start my own virtual intellectual property and internet law practice that provides flat fee and subscription based legal services to businesses.
We all love adventure
My childhood and teenage years were a mix of growing up in 3 different countries. Even though my family migrated from Bangladesh to settle in Los Angeles, I wanted to pursue my education in the UK and convinced my conservative South-Asian parents to let me be in the UK for most part of my teenage years and early twenties. While attending law school in the UK, I travelled across England and Scotland immersing myself in the rich history and culture of the land. I met with Queen Elizabeth while staying at the gorgeous Cumberland Lodge, and worked on my school assignments on train journeys. Maybe it was then that I subconsciously fell in love with the digital nomadic life—but this was back in 2007 and the concept of virtual work was still very new and “indie.” After qualifying as a Barrister-at-Law in England and Wales, I decided to move back home to Los Angeles. It was time for a new adventure.
Sticking to the safe route
I attended the University Of Southern California Gould School Of Law, on a scholarship, for my masters where I specialized in International Trade Policy and Intellectual Property Law. After graduating I went on to serve as corporate counsel in several boutique intellectual property law firms and worked on protecting and growing the IP assets for animation studios, design houses, and tech startups. I also got to work on the challenging and cutting edge area of cannabis IP law before it was legalized for recreational use in California, and went on to win several awards including Top Women Lawyers and Southern California Rising Stars list for my work with cannabis trademarks. Although I enjoyed my work, I was slowly getting burnt out as happens to a lot of attorneys and I knew something had to change. I loved my craft and was proud of the results I obtained for my clients which protected and scaled their business but I didn’t want to stay in the corporate world anymore. This became more glaring after I got married in 2018 to the love of my life. My priorities shifted as my husband was living in Pakistan at the moment and I was based in Los Angeles. I didn’t want rigid physical restrictions to determine how much time I could spend with my husband and wanted the flexibility to work, travel and experience the newly wed life. At the same time, I noticed small business owners and startups without major capital funding found it difficult to access quality legal protection which often left them vulnerable; there was a void in the industry for accessible legal services and I wanted to play a part in filing that void. With all this in mind, I bid farewell to my corporate life and started my own virtual practice.
Having a virtual practice helped to save on costs of having a physical office, so I was able to pass on those savings to my clients and it also allowed me to work from anywhere in the world without compromising on family time or my career. But I took this leap right after I got married so I basically started off in debt with a depleting savings account. It was nerve wrecking but I knew this is what I wanted so I just put blinders on and started working on my business. Initially it was rough, there were so many times I broke down into tears and thought of just returning to the comfort of a steady paycheck. But every time I thought about going back to my old life it made me sad and so I knew there was no turning back—I had to make this work.
The ‘big’ achievements
My first big client was Six Entertainment Productions—the makers of the Human Centipede movies trilogy, referred by a fellow attorney. 1 year in and I can safely say that referrals have been my main source of business without any paid marketing. I believe that if your work is good and you provide value to your current clients and network, they will do your marketing for you. Collaborating with other attorneys has been crucial for my business and I cannot stress this enough–your competitors should be your friends as collaboration over competition benefits us all and helps us grow as a community. Entrepreneurship can be lonely and scary but it doesn’t have to be so. Reach out, make genuine connections, and opportunities will arise.
Nuzayra Haque-Shah is a virtual attorney and founder of NH Legal. She’s based out of sunny Los Angeles. As a creative entrepreneur and small business owner herself, Nuzayra loves working with startups and creative professionals and has represented clients in cannabis, technology, design, fashion, and entertainment.