Lubna Faruqi is the co-founder of the law firm of Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP. She lives in New York City with her husband and is the proud mother of a daughter who is now a senior at McGill University.
Ms. Faruqi was drawn to law at a young age. Driven and precocious, she graduated from McGill University Law School at just 21 years old with two law degrees: Bachelor of Civil Law (B.C.L.) and a Bachelor of Common Law (L.L.B.).
After graduation, she worked in the Bureau of Antitrust in Canada’s Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs. Wanting to try something new, she left her native Montréal for New York City in the late 1980s, where she landed a job with Kaufman Malchman Kirby & Squire, LLP, specializing in shareholder litigation. At that time, there were very few women in the field. Although Ms. Faruqi was often the only woman in the room, she always made her voice heard. Her employers were so impressed with her work that they eventually hired her brother, Nadeem.
After learning the ins-and-outs of securities litigation, the siblings decided to branch out on their own. Their employers were supportive, giving the Faruqis advice on starting out and furniture for their new office. When the firm was founded in 1995, Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP was just one office, two desks, and a phone. Over 23 years later, the minority-owned and woman-owned firm has five offices around the country and has scored numerous victories on behalf of its clients in securities, antitrust, wage and hour, and consumer class actions, as well as shareholder derivative and merger and transactional litigation.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
By the time my brother and I decided to start Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP, we had been working in the field for many years and felt that we finally had the knowledge and experience to hang our own shingle. We also loved working together, so going into business as a team was kind of a no-brainer for us. We learned so much at Kaufman Malchman Kirby & Squire, LLP, and were fortunate to have such wonderful and supportive mentors who encouraged us to make this leap.
How do you make money?
In the legal profession, everyone makes money the same way—by getting clients and representing them. Our firm works on contingency, which means that we do not get paid unless the case is successful. This provides us with additional motivation to make sure that our work is consistently excellent and to closely monitor expenses.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
Honestly, it took a while. Litigation can be a game of hurry-up-and-wait, and when you work on contingency, you need a few victories before you are able to turn a profit.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
Absolutely. Doubt is an inevitable part of being a business owner, especially when you first start out. Whenever doubt surfaced, I had to remind myself that I had a lot of experience in this field, that I knew the law well, and that I wasn’t in it alone. I was working with my brother, who I trust implicitly, and we had the support of our parents, who always believed in us even when we didn’t believe in ourselves.
How did you get your first customer?
I can’t remember how we got our first customer, unfortunately. It was probably through word of mouth. By the time we started Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP, we had been practicing in this area of law for a long time and had a great network of people we had worked with before that could vouch for our work.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
We’ve found that social media—particularly Facebook and Twitter—is a great tool for reaching potential clients. People really live on social media these days, so we are working on becoming more adept at using those platforms to generate new business.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
As a business owner, you make so many tough decisions all of the time. Lately, we’ve been focusing on diversifying our marketing strategies. There are so many options for marketing today, so we spent a lot of time researching the various possibilities and trying to decide which services fit our budget and best meet our near-term and long-term goals. To further complicate matters, we have offices in different states and practice in a number of different areas, so committing to a strategy required the input of many team members. We think we have chosen well, but it was a tough decision!
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
My parents instilled in us the importance of hard work from a young age. Nothing is easy about being a lawyer or a business owner. A strong work ethic has been essential to our success in this field. I also think that having a business partner that I trust—my brother—has been key to the firm’s longevity.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I’ve been fortunate to have many satisfying moments in this business—I can’t choose just one! But I’d have to say that the most satisfying moments are when you are able to give a client good news. The legal profession is fundamentally one of service to clients. Our clients are people who have put their trust in us to help them, and we take that responsibility very seriously. It is the best feeling when you are able to tell a client that the court has approved the proposed settlement, or that the jury ruled in his favor.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
The future holds endless possibilities for our business! We have had some great victories for our clients in the last few years. Just this month, our antitrust team scored a huge victory as co-counsel in In re Lidoderm Antitrust Litig., No. 14-md-2521 (N.D. Cal.), winning final approval of a $166 million settlement for companies who purchased Lidoderm directly from its manufacturers. I am looking forward to continuing that streak!
What business books have inspired you?
I’m not sure why, but I haven’t found any business books particularly inspirational. I tend to find inspiration when I am least looking for it. Sometimes I will read an article or a novel, and suddenly get a great idea that would not have occurred to me otherwise.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
We just bought a ping pong table for the office. Everyone has been having so much fun with it! My brother and I firmly believe that happy employees are good for business. The legal profession is full of long hours and hard work, so it is nice to be able to take breaks and have fun with colleagues in the office when you can.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Let the answers come to you. You don’t have to have answers for everything now.