Born in Kirby Muxloe in 1970, Rafique recalls a quieter side to the hustle and bustle we see in the city today. A lack of facilities led him to spend much of his free time just kicking a football around the streets with his friends. “Of course, living in Leicester and being a football fan…I support Man Utd!” Rafique says, with a twinkle in his eye. “I enjoy a lot of sports and spent a lot of my younger years playing sports like squash too. As well as that, I absolutely love gardening. That’s my stress release, you know? Planting and nurturing a garden, watching vegetables and plants go from seeds to fruit is extremely meditative and satisfying. It helps to counteract the stresses of my job.”
During his school years, Rafique attended Moat Community College for his CSE’s and then went on to University. “Considering going away from home was quite an alien thing in those days,” he said. “I was the oldest child in my family and in that position, you tended to stay at home with your family. But my mum, who was into education, encouraged me to go away to develop. For her, the idea of me going away and becoming independent was invaluable.”
Rafique, who is now the senior Partner of Bond Adams Solicitors, eventually applied to go to Loughborough and Hull University initially to study Financial Management. Whilst waiting to start university though, he wanted to get some experience in the world of work too. “I applied for some work experience in a few law firms actually,” said Rafique. “During my time in one of them, there was a solicitor who took me around the courts. He was in the magistrates courts and fighting cases. I learned that I was a very off-the-chair type of person. And I decided that’s what I wanted to do. So, of course I had offers and I said to Hull University, “Look, do you mind if I switch to law? And I had the grades, so they said yes.”
After gaining his law degree, Rafique went off to Chester to do his solicitors finals which is one year. As a fledgling solicitor, it was now time for him to begin his working life. “So I went to a Birmingham City firm. And I did my two year training contract there. And then I kind of wanted to gravitate back home really, you know? Being the eldest child, and with my parents getting older. I did have an offer from a city of London firm. Who knows what could have been if I took it, but I had to choose my family and so I luckily got into the largest law firm in the whole of Leicestershire. They had 450 staff. I was in my element. I was a litigation and court solicitor. I started as a very young man, and then
I became what’s called an associate, and then I became a partner. I was in the press very regularly on that basis due to my constant promotions and dedication”
Rafique worked at this 450 staff law firm for 12 years of his career, seeing them progress and grow larger and larger. Even with the sheer size of the firm, Rafique had always felt like it had a close family feel, and had been one of the things that had kept him there. But that was sadly not going to last. “What started to happen is they started to have other offices and and the kind of family feel to it started to get lost which is natural,” he said. “I very much wanted to be in control of what I do, than having to go through a number of different committees to get things done.
12 years is a long time to spend in one particular business, and the stories that come with that experience, especially as a lawyer are fascinating. One particular case that Rafique is sure he’ll never forget is a case against an automotive giant, in which a businessman had his £90,000 car stolen. This particular make is commonly known to be impossible to steal, at least in the traditional hot-wiring sense. Using his cunning and determination, Rafique discovered that the owner had returned a key to the dealership to be destroyed, which had then been sold on to a car thief by one of the employees of that dealership! The dealership settled the case and paid all costs.
Dedication to his career has given Rafique some phenomenal experiences, contacts, and expertise, but he does still have some regrets. “The only thing I regret from my earlier days is that it became constant work. All I did was work. You don’t see it at the time because you become conditioned. My children grew up and I didn’t really see them grow up. But now I get into the office at 7.00am and aim to leave by 5.30pm to keep that work-life balance. It is incredibly important. My children are fantastically gifted —My daughter is an art student. She’s very gifted, and she’s painted a few of our offices in very fancy office styles. My son is a cyber security student who tells me what to do on that front and then my other daughter is 12 and I think her goal is to just be a princess one day!” He has been married for 26 years and his wife is also a lawyer in the education sector!
Leaving the large law firm environment, Rafique had originally intended to work just on his own. “I didn’t realise how many people didn’t consider me because I was at a big expensive law firm. So all of a sudden, loads of people started to come to me for help. Then I’d add a property lawyer to the team, and a family lawyer, and a wills lawyer, and so on. I was used to managing teams. But now, you’ve got HR, you’ve got regulatory, you’ve got, you know, all sorts of stuff going on and you’ve quickly got to get this in place!”
The success of Bond Adams Solicitors is a testament to how well Rafique managed to handle this. The explosive growth from being a “one man and his secretary” style lawyer, to running Leicester’s most successful law firm, who have survived throughout the pandemic is incredibly admirable. Now, Bond Adams continues to grow bigger and better, with new offices in Leicester’s Uppingham Road and one in Birmingham too whilst adding staff at the headquarters also. Rafique has also expressed his dedication to nurturing his team, as well as the other colleagues that join to develop. “I always ensure I have the time for 1 on 1 sessions with my staff because it’s a very difficult journey. It’s a very regulated area of business and if you make a mistake, it is a major event. So I find that it’s so important to coach people.”
Rafique’s trust and belief in his team are evidently shown by his plans for the firm.
“Over the next five years I want to make sure my younger lawyers go up in the firm, and I want to see them running a lot of projects and then in turn, the firm will grow,” he said. “I want to eventually devolve projects down to the rest of my staff. I’d like to have colleagues running offices, heading departments and all heading projects. I want to do that across the firm and if they develop, then the firm will only grow.”
He finished off by saying that: “To use your creative skills without restriction is the greatest experience that you can wish for.”