Sofia is an employment lawyer who specialises in advising high-net-worth clients in all aspects related to their household and business affairs.
Sofia has extensive experience in assisting her clients to recruit and manage staff who are essential to the smooth running of their household such as house managers, butlers, close protection officers, private chefs, household and estate managers, nannies, chauffeurs and housekeepers. In addition, she assists with the recruitment and management of executive or private personal assistants and family office staff as well as employees who are essential to her client’s business affairs.
Sofia guides her clients on legal compliance as well as the practicalities of hiring and managing staff who have considerable inside-knowledge of her clients, their families, their households and often their businesses as well.
Due to the nature of Sofia’s clients and her employment practice, her work often also comprises reputation management and privacy protection. Her experience includes seeking anonymity orders and restricted reporting orders as well as careful drafting of non-disclosure agreements and bespoke contracts of employment to protect the privacy of her clients and their families. Sofia often provides specialist guidance on termination and post-termination of staff members. She deals with contentious terminations and defends her clients’ position and reputation if they are faced with employment claims or unreasonable demands from ex-employees.
Sofia brings her previous corporate and commercial background to her role as adviser to high-net-worth individuals and their families. This enables her to offer holistic and pragmatic solutions to a range of different issues which may arise.
Whilst Sofia’s client base is employer-led, she is also in an ideal position to act for employees employed by high-net-worth families and often finds herself representing such clients when the need and opportunity arises.
In a more general non-contentious employment capacity, Sofia’s work includes advising on redundancy, re-structuring, maternity, discrimination and negotiating settlement packages. Her contentious experience includes assessing claims brought or threatened against respondent clients, liaising with ACAS and/or the claimant’s representative on pre-claim early conciliations, selecting and instructing counsel, and preparing for tribunal hearings to defend her clients in the tribunal.
Sofia is an avid high-net-worth industry speaker and article contributor for various publications. She is regularly asked to speak at webinars/seminars on a range of issues, including the impact of Brexit on immigration and employment, as well as to provide specialist workshops on the management of household staff.
I would like to express my gratitude to Sofia for looking after me during a fraught and stressful few months. Her expertise, guidance, insight and excellent communication proved to be invaluable during an uncertain and hostile situation. Her steady and unwavering support resulted in the brokering of a highly satisfactory conclusion with the minimum amount of uncertainty and upset. I had the best possible solicitor to fight my cause and I would recommend her without hesitation.
I would like to sincerely thank Sofia Syed for her hard work, expertise and support during my case. Sofia understood immediately that I was going through a very distressing time. From the outset, and at every interaction she listened attentively to what I was saying, always checking she had understood correctly. This meant she grasped the key issues and facts quickly and I did not need to repeat my story. She dealt with my case with efficiency and calmness, which meant I felt immediately reassured and was able to focus on giving and receiving information. She was always responsive, honest in her advice and took time to check my understanding. I had every confidence in her, and got the outcome I wanted.
Sofia presents at our HR Forums in a clear and concise manner ensuring simplicity throughout the seminar. Sofia is always well prepared and extremely knowledgeable on the subject matter and ensures that everyone is engaged, through audience participation. You will find her extremely approachable at the beginning and end of the seminar and always willing to answer individual questions. What you get from Sofia is someone that can make sometimes a tedious subject, entertaining and light hearted.
Returning from one of Sofia’s sessions, I learnt an incredible amount of useful information and had 3 pages of notes to take back to the office!Sofia is a lively presenter, delivering really well throughout. Her content, is relevant and jam packed with useful legal tips and insights. Delivered in a way that is totally understandable, commercially savvy and at times very thought provoking. Sofia is such an engaging speaker that there is no need for the typical boring power point presentations – Sofia can engage an audience just by speaking, given her wealth of knowledge and expertise. Her style is relaxed and informal, whilst encouraging the audience to give their thoughts, feedback and sharing of experiences. This makes you feel very confident in her advice and that you could easily approach her with questions.
People Experience Lead, Unilever
Sofia is definitely an expert in this niche and very sensitive area of employment law. She is a real go-to person for private household HR - there's no doubt!
Country House Consultancy Partner, Knight Frank
Thank you for all your help and being so efficient. If we need further advice on anything I will definitely come back to you.
Sofia held a very informative and interesting Private Household HR Forum for us. It covered all of the necessary topics - I can't wait for the next one!
Sofia presented a great Private Household HR Forum. It was really useful & practical!
The Private Household HR Forum that Sofia held for us was very informative. It was especially good to have small groups for discussion.
Family Office Manager
I can't fault Sofia's work and her attention to detail which is so impressive. Whenever I have a problem which requires any legal advice she is my first port of call for honest answers. I have been running my companies for 20 years and I have seen many solicitors come and go until I met Sofia Syed, she brings vast knowledge and professionalism to each and every issue I ever have and is always at the end of a phone whenever I need her! The overall impression Sofia Syed and Keystone Law leaves in your mind is the following: Why would I go anywhere else when they deliver every time!
Executive Chairman for Futronics Group Ltd and CANARE-I Innovations Ltd
- General Counsel for a high-growth client company
- Skills audit and analysis and assisting clients with recruitment of correct type and skill of staff
- Review of commercial documentation and general advice on conducting negotiations
- Drafting consultancy agreements, employment contracts, directors’ service agreements, services agreements and handbooks
- Service occupancy and workforce agreements
- Advising on GDPR implications for households and businesses and undertaking data audits, drafting relevant policies and privacy notices
- Making subject access requests and advising on receipt of subject access requests
- Non-disclosure agreements
- Bespoke company policies and handbooks
- Settlement agreements
- TUPE advice and related documents and letters
- Maternity/paternity/adoption advice
- Redundancy and restructuring planning and consultation advice
- Managing stress-at-work issues
- Confidentiality and reputation management including applying for anonymity orders and restricted reporting orders
- Defending claims of discrimination, harassment, victimisation claims and whistleblowing, drafting witness statements and conducting all ET proceedings
- Bringing claims for unfair dismissal, discrimination, negotiating and settling claims via ACAS or otherwise
- Advising on redundancy and restructuring
- Disciplinary and grievance advice and social media management
- Restrictive covenant enforceability
- Breach of contract claims including wrongful dismissal, constructive dismissal and bonus/commission claims
- Acted for a billionaire from China in setting up their personal and company affairs in the UK. Advised on all aspects of privacy and employment matters for the entourage staff, as well as drafting relevant contracts and assisting the set-up of a team of professional advisers.
- Provided guidance on compliance issues relating to close protection officers, their contracts, hours, travel arrangements, SIA licensing and insurance.
- Assisted clients relocating to the UK and setting up a fully staffed household. Identified the correct legal status of the different categories of workers and where necessary advised and assisted in the set-up of separate service companies to employ staff.
- Advised clients on the implications of using the correct legal status for workers/employees and a client on mobile workers’ contracts, bearing in mind recent case law on these issues.
- Advised a family office on the recruitment and contractual hours of a Norland nanny with unconventional working arrangements, providing all necessary supplementary documentation and advice to ensure full legal compliance.
- Advised a number of British and European heirs and heiresses on matters including strategic advice on the staffing of all their households and businesses, re-structuring, redundancies, privacy and reputation management. Dealt robustly with post termination claims from aggrieved employees seeking excessive compensation, often on little or no legal basis.
- Acted for a successful and renowned music and film producer who was faced with allegations and claims of sexual misconduct, harassment, personal injury and whistleblowing, after dismissing a close member of their private household staff. The client’s reputation remained intact and there was no media reporting despite the highly salacious nature of the allegations.
- Acted for a high-net-worth individual in all their corporate affairs and provided on-going advice as general counsel to their numerous businesses. Guided the client on all commercial and legal matters relating to their latest high growth company. Acting as a trusted adviser and board member, advised on all financial and business matters to ensure the client as well as their reputation and affairs were protected and handled with discretion.
- Provided urgent advice on reputation management and damage limitation upon notification that an article was about to be published on a (senior executive) client. The client was faced with a potential damages claim for defamation from their ex-employer.
- Advised a group company on the strategic closure of an office and termination of the managing director. Provided guidance on a wide variety of related issues including shareholder and directors’ dispute, dealing with complex corporate and employment tax issues, liaised closely with external tax advisers and corporate and litigation colleagues as appropriate. Successfully led negotiations and concluded the matter through mediation, settlement and a share buy-back.
- Acted for a hedge fund manager on their exit from a US hedge fund. Negotiated settlement terms and long-term incentives alongside complex post termination restrictions.
- Advised a private office being blackmailed by a departing housekeeper, holding confidential information on the affairs of the family, successfully terminating the employment and settling for a nominal sum and an undertaking.
- Advised a large international client on damage limitation after a manager prematurely terminated an employment contract without due procedure. Advice gained prevented the likelihood of a successful claim being brought.
- Acted for a number of high-level executives, providing appropriate advice to enable employees to exit with substantial termination packages (which can often be related to their shareholdings or directorships, both of which require more tactical and strategic advice).
- Advised clients on the management of poor-performing employees, provided guidance on termination and appeal stages.
- Advised a client on the employment aspects of corporate restructuring to achieve the desired strategic long-term solution for the organisation. Provided appropriate advice and guidance on levels of redundancy consultation required where the affected employee is pregnant and/or on maternity leave.
- Provided a road map and guidance to a client managing long-term sickness absence where the employee had been off sick for over one year costing the client company substantially in terms of management and associated benefits.
- Advised a number of clients on data subject access requests, working on behalf of employers and employees, sifting through data to ensure relevance for disclosure and dealing with the Information Commissioner’s Office.
- Acted as a trusted adviser to a number of clients seeking other professional advisers, such as accountants and tax specialists.
Please note: The experience list above may include examples of work completed prior to joining Keystone Law.
Recognised in Spear’s 500 2021 as a Recommended Reputation Management Lawyer
Recognised in The Legal 500 2021 for Reputation Management and Employment: Employers
Recognised in Spear’s 500 2020 as a Top Recommended Employment Lawyer
Recognised in The Legal 500 2020 for Reputation Management and Employment: Employers
Recognised in The Legal 500 2018/19 for Employment: Employers and Senior Executives
“Always available with punctual and precise professional counsel” The Legal 500 2018/19
Full Member of the Employment Lawyers Association
Founding member of the Woking Diamond HR Forum
Founder of Hanover Private Household HR
Sofia qualified as a solicitor in 1999. Prior to joining Keystone Law in 2017, she worked at the following firms:
- DLA Piper