Some people are blessed with the right mixture of incredible talent and intelligence. Sheree Burnett is one of these people. When meeting her for the first time, I was captivated by her beauty and charm. Her radiant personality, determination and drive have resulted in her becoming a co-director of the law firm Christian-Burnett Solicitors and Attorneys. However, this 32-year-old powerhouse doesn’t stop there; she makes time to pursue her true love despite her demanding schedule. I caught up with her recently to learn more about her purpose and passion.
Why Christian-Burnett Solicitors and Attorneys?
Law was something I “fell” into. I decided that I wanted to study something completely different from what I had learnt from first to fifth form. My mother was working in the legal system at the time. She suggested that law would be the right fit for me. So, I pursued A Level law and followed that path towards my career.
I did the Legal Practice Course (LPC), which is a pre-requisite to qualifying as a Solicitor in the UK, in 2012. The law firm Judge and Priestley Solicitors provided me with an amazing opportunity soon after. After working at the firm as a paralegal in the civil litigation department for over a year, the firm offered me a training contract. This allowed me to begin training immediately which isn’t usually the case for someone who has just completed the LPC. Many of the skills I use now in my firm are skills I acquired while working at Judge and Priestly Solicitors. I qualified as a Solicitor in England in Wales in 2015.
After serving 4 years at Judge and Priestly Solicitors, I returned to Jamaica to complete a 6-month programme at the Norman Manley Law School in 2016 to extend my ability to practice in the Jamaican jurisdiction. My dual qualification sparked the interest of a dear friend of mine, Brendon Christian. He founded Christian. The Law Firm. Ltd in 2012 and was running it as a one-man-show. He wanted me to join the firm as a co-director. However, I didn’t believe I was ready at the time.
Time passed, and the opportunity presented itself again earlier this year. Brendon needed help to take his firm to the next level. I obliged. The firm is now a boutique virtual commercial firm. This means that most of our business is done online. We help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) become thriving businesses by supporting the legal framework for their ideas and any legal challenges encountered.
If you could describe your business in one word, what would that word be?
Innovative. The firm embraces different ways of working when compared to a traditional law firm. We have an office space in Canary Wharf, London’s commercial hub. The space is available for face-to-face meetings when necessary, but most of our work is done virtually. Client consultations can be done by Skype. Clients can also access documents using our secure online portal. Geography doesn’t limit us.
The firm also has two highly qualified legal professionals. Brendon Christian has South African heritage and is licensed to practice law in England, Wales as a Solicitor and South Africa as an Attorney. I have Jamaican heritage and I am licensed to practice law in England and Wales as a Solicitor and Jamaica as an Attorney-at-Law. My aim is to make our firm one of the most prominent black firms in the UK.
That’s interesting. Tell me more about your Jamaican background.
I was born in Londonto a Jamaican mother and Guyanese father. We migrated to Jamaica when I was 5 years old and I spent my childhood years there until I was 13. I attended St Hughs Preparatory School and St. Andrew High School for Girls while there. Thereafter, I moved back to England and lived in Bristol, where I completed secondary school, college and university. I moved back to London when I was 26 to do the internship. As you have gathered, I simply cannot stay put!
You’re a lawyer by day but a singer by night. Tell me more about your musical journey.
Music reflects another big part of who I am. There’s been a consistent battle in my life between law and music. Law has been winning for the past 15 years because it pays the bills, offers security and has opened many opportunities for me. However music has kept my sanity in the background and helped me to build my confidence over the years.
Thankfully, the nature of my firm provides the flexibility I need to pursue my passion. I must organize my time well to make it work. However, I don’t mind that pressure since I believe blessings people’s hearts with music is my life’s purpose.
I’m currently working on a project that consists of a mixture of R and B, Soul, Reggae and Hip Hop, with creative sounds from British, Jamaican and American producers. Music isn’t about fame or money for me. It’s about helping me use my talent to inspire people, particularly those who are gifted in more than one field.
Who inspires you and why?
My mother inspires me because she’s a go-getter. In her lifetime she has created opportunities to live a great life in England, in Jamaica and now in the Gambia (and she is clearly the reason why I can’t stay put!). She has such a warm, strong personality that people really gravitate to no matter the situation.
She’ll make things happen and thrive no matter where you put her. I try my best to emulate these qualities I’m constantly teaching myself new skills. For instance, I knew nothing about website and logo design prior to becoming co-director. However, the firm needed a website and proper branding. So, I bought the best book on the subject I could find and taught myself how to do it. You never really understand the power of YOU until you put yourself in the right frame of mind for success.
What philosophy do you live by?
It’s not easy, but I do try to live by the phrase “Work hard, play harder”. I believe that there must be a balance. I love listening to music, singing, , shopping, travelling and keeping up with fashion and beauty, and cooking healthy Caribbean cuisine. In fact, Kamila McDonald’s book Wake Up and Live has helped me find ways to cook healthy Caribbean cuisine. I love it!
What books have you read recently that have supported your entrepreneurial journey?
Two books come to mind. The first is Nicole McLaren-Campbell’s short book Make it Count. I learned 2 key lessons from this book:
- Pick out the aspects of your life that you need to push yourself to get done. Get rid of procrastination!
- Find ways to motivate yourself.
The second is Self-Made by Bianca Miller-Cole and Byron Cole. Bianca was a runner-up on the hit show The Apprentice. She has since started her own business and shares valuable insight into how to start a successful business in this book.
What tips would you give to other women trying to start their own businesses?
- Really know and understand your product or service. Selling becomes difficult if you don’t clearly understand what you’re selling. You must know your craft. Lack of knowledge will come back to bite you. Know your business and your market.
- Don’t be afraid to stand out. All businesses need a unique selling position (USP), even if it seems like everything has been done before. Always try to come up with ways to be creative.
How can you be contacted?
Facebook: Christian Burnett Solicitors & Attorneys
Read more inspiring stories in the first issue.