WILSONS ANNOUNCES NEW HEAD OF IMMIGRATION, ANITA VASISHT
Date posted: 1 April 2020
Here, Anita introduces herself …
Today, they crowned me social justice warrior queen aka head of Wilsons’ world class immigration department.
It feels odd, almost wrong, to mark this moment with some writing about my personal history and ascension when we’re in the midst of a global pandemic situation; when we’re all hearing stories of suffering and loss or may be experiencing the same in our own lives at this most serious time.
Yet, it also feels odd and wrong to not mark what, for me at least, is a very special day. Also, it’s polite to introduce myself.
Here’s a faded picture of me outside the block of flats where we lived in the 1970s:
Dad left India for the UK in 1965 and then Mum and my brothers joined him in 1967.
When I was born, a year later, our family was living in a rented room in a house in Charlton, south east London. In 1970, we moved into the Woolwich council estate, Parker House.
By 1977, many teenagers around us became skinheads and I remember a day when about thirty of them besieged our flat. We didn’t have a phone so Dad and my oldest brother waded through the group thinking the police would help us. They came back disappointed.
School was fun: Roan Girls in Greenwich and then sixth form in the mixed John Roan School on Maze Hill, Blackheath. There, I fell passionately in love with languages and travel which prompted me to study French, Russian (ie a three month long party holed up in the Mir hotel in Kiev with ninety other students in Gorbachev/glasnost days) and law (overwhelming pressure from Mum) at Surrey University.
Of course, those were the days of no tuition fees and when people like me from under privileged families benefitted from full grants.
Professional law exams followed and then I had the greatest good fortune to stumble across an advert for an internship at Amnesty International’s legal office which was do-able because, back in those days, it was just about okay to sign on for income support and do unpaid work.
The brilliant Helena Cook gave me that break which led to a series of paid positions and exciting opportunities in that awesome organisation; and I also had the honour of working closely with the late and enormously inspiring and encouraging Nick Howen who went on to be secretary general of the International Commission of Jurists.
Later, I realised that the legal office received internship applications from all sorts of high flyers.
I am so grateful that, in 1993, they decided to open that door to me, a decidedly average student with no stand out or impressive achievements and with no middle class, professional or in any way glamorous connections.
Fast forward to 1997 when Michael Hanley and Matthew Davies interviewed me for a (newly qualified) solicitor position at Wilsons in Tottenham.
Hooray that they did and that they offered me the job and that we all stayed together and built up this fantastic department.
It has been and remains an absolute privilege to do the work we do and to be in a position where we can help so many people fight for justice and/or positively transform their lives within the framework of the law; all of which feels even more important during this extremely challenging period.
We are experts in all aspects of immigration work. Personally, I remain committed to representing asylum seekers and battling to bring families together. I also specialise in and lead our firm’s work on national security/SIAC cases.
In addition, I continue to recruit, train and mentor young lawyers.
And from today, I’m expanding my role to head up our immigration department.
What is that line from Spider-Man? “With great power comes great responsibility”?
I vow to do my best.
Here’s a picture of my mum who must have been unaware of glass ceilings because she told me I could grow up and do whatever I wanted to do:
And, look, here’s a picture of me in Punjab aged 6 in training for this day:
With the firm’s partners at our 30th anniversary party last year:
And, finally, here are some of our superb and highly talented immigration lawyers giving me a round of applause at our departmental Zoom meeting today:
If you need assistance in connection with an immigration case please contact our appointments secretary Dionne on 020 8885 7979 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.