Interview with: Tim Rustem – Founding Partner

Rustem Guardian Solicitors | View firm profile

What do you think differentiates your firm from your competitors?

Rustem Guardian is a unique combination of an international law firm with a domestic feel. We are a close-knit team with a strong focus on client care. Whilst we represent both corporations and high net worth individuals, we also remain committed to our long-standing clients and have not forgotten our roots.

Client care goes to the heart of the firm’s values. We were one of the few firms who maintained an open office during the pandemic to maintain and protect our high standards of client care. We are also available over the telephone at all hours to meet our client’s needs and will act very quickly when an emergency arises – regardless of the time of day.

Due to having a diverse team, we are able to offer legal advice in a variety of different languages. We have a particular specialism in East Asia and have both Mandarin and Thai speaking lawyers.

Our team are well equipped to adapt to the needs of vulnerable clients. We are quick to identify vulnerabilities such as medical needs/psychiatric issues/victims of modern slavery and adjust our client services accordingly. We will also consider from the outset how such vulnerabilities may impact our client from a legal perspective, and will explore issues such as fitness to plead, modern slavery defences and will make representations to the Crown Prosecution Service to reconsider the proceedings where appropriate.

The firm’s staff are friendly, approachable, and will always ensure that clients feel at ease. We are aware of the importance of ensuring our clients fully informed and reassured during what can be an extremely stressful time in their lives. We work to ensure that our clients have consistency of representation by maintaining the same caseworker throughout their proceedings wherever possible. Our team will fight hard and leave no stone unturned to ensure the right outcome for our clients.

What has been the biggest challenge faced by your firm during the Covid-19 pandemic?

The pandemic began as a challenge due to the lack of client contact – particularly with those who are vulnerable or in custody.  Many prisons refused to accommodate either video link or in-person video links which caused significant delays to proceedings and left many clients feeling confused and frustrated.

The pandemic has however allowed us to build an excellent team and expand our use of technology to adapt to client needs and provide an efficient, accessible service. This has included conducting conferences via telephone and Zoom where required. Our increased use of video conferencing facilities has assisted in particular with our international clients who have been unable to travel in light of the pandemic. Our team are available 24 hours a day to update our clients this challenging period.

We have recently moved offices and have engaged in active recruitment at varying levels of seniority. We have put in place a detailed training scheme for all of our junior staff and have continued to expand our workload and professional network.

We have fought to ensure that our client’s cases our dealt with efficiently despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic and we have maintained our high quality of services from Pre-Charge level to Crown Court, Appeal and Confiscation proceedings.

What are you firm’s core specialisms?

Whilst we are a general crime firm at heart, we are continually expanding our scope whilst ensuring we remain committed to criminal defence. Our team have a wide range of expertise across the criminal sphere including sexual offences, fraud, confiscation and asset forfeiture, serious violent offences and drug offences. We provide realistic and robust advice to our clients to ensure that we can achieve the best possible outcome in their proceedings.

We are regularly instructed in international cases as well as serious offences such as murder and manslaughter, including the successful defence of a 16-year-old charged with a joint enterprise murder. We pride ourselves on being involved in cases which regularly appear in the press and are heard across the country.

We are well equipped to deal with cases where complex and lengthy evidence requires consideration. We are meticulous in our case-preparation which allows us to ensure that all avenues are explored when putting forward our client’s defence.

Whilst we have expertise in complex and multi-handed proceedings, we remain committed to ensuring that our clients receive an extremely high level of service at the police station stage. We do not understate the importance of obtaining out of Court disposals and we are quick to spot weaknesses in allegations against our client. This often means that matters go no further than the police station stage due to the robust advice we provide in the very early stages of criminal proceedings.