The Hot 100 career quiz: Quinn Emanuel partner Khaled Khatoun – The Lawyer

“Everyone has a boss who they want to look good in front of, and if you can help someone impress their boss, they will always appreciate it.”
“Remember that chambers are businesses. The pupillage application process is ultimately a system designed to identify the candidate that would be the most beneficial addition to that business.”
“Managing the expectations of people under pressure, while under pressure myself, was the least comfortable I have felt professionally.”
“Do not be afraid of challenges, obstacles, knock-backs and believe in yourself.”
“It’s easy to become focused on the achievements of others rather than focusing on your own achievements and on how you can achieve your own potential.”
Name: Khaled Khatoun
Organisation: Quinn Emanuel
Role: Partner
Based: London
Trained at: Hogan Lovells
Year qualified: 2009
Read his Hot 100 profile
What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?
When I started my training contract in the summer of 2007, I was informed that my first seat would be in the capital markets department and that I would be training under a supervisor who specialised in an esoteric form of derivative, known as a synthetic collateralised debt obligation. I remember smiling with enthusiasm, while wondering what a synthetic collateralised debt obligation was!
Fearful of appearing ignorant, I spent many weekends on a warm summer reading about these products to understand how they operated. Like many things you learn in the profession, the answers could not be found in the law school textbooks.
What is the thing in your professional career that has terrified you or taken you out of your comfort zone the most?
At the end of my training contract, I was informed that I would not be able to qualify at the firm’s litigation department. The collapse of Lehmans had impacted the legal profession (among many others) and there were limited available vacancies for trainees to qualify at the firm. In my mind, my career in law was potentially over before it had begun and the lack of certainty on the path forward was unsettling. Within around a year, I joined Quinn Emanuel which had opened an office in London. I was promoted to partner six years later, much earlier than I could have ever imagined.
My elevation was a very humbling experience and looking back, my own journey has taught me the importance of resilience, never losing hope and realising that sometimes good can come out of adversity, no matter how improbable that may seem.
What is the wisest thing anyone ever said to you (and who said it)?
Always be thankful for what you have (my father). I think this is particularly apt for the legal profession, where competition is fierce at all levels.
In such an environment, it is easy to become focused on the achievements of others rather than focusing on your own achievements and on how you can achieve your own potential.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?
Always go the extra mile to exceed expectations. With long hours and multiple demands from many clients, it can become all too easy to adopt a reactive approach to your work. Against this background, maintaining the right mindset is key. There are no shortcuts to good lawyering and the best lawyers I have been fortunate enough to learn from in my career possess (among other things) an endless energy, creativity and an ability to think through all angles. They are almost obsessive about helping their clients, within the framework of the rules.
When you wake up each morning you should ask yourself whether there are any additional angles you ought to be exploring on a matter, what steps your opposing number is probably contemplating and above all, how you are going to win a case, rather than how you are going to get through an ever growing action list. Oddly enough,  some of the best ideas I have come up with in my career have been in the shower. Why they come to me in the shower, I don’t know!
What’s your best friend from law school doing now?
My best friend at law school worked as an associate in the corporate departments of various US law firms. Having subsequently worked as in house counsel at a VC company for a number of years, he now advises specialist high growth technology companies, startups, VC and tech organisations across Europe. He is thoroughly enjoying it too.
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