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17 September 2018

Interview Tony Barshini

Tony Barshini (21) is one of three nominees for the ECHO Award in the Loyens & Loeff Law & Tax category.

ECHO Award

Coming from Syria, he is a Bachelor’s student at Utrecht Law School in his 4th year. ‘I am from a country where democracy is not a given. Here in the Netherlands I want to protect the rule of law with everything I got.’

What does the nomination mean to you?

I was quite surprised. During the meeting in The Hague with all the other selected candidates I met so many inspiring people. It means a lot to me that my university professors proposed me and I made it to the last three. It is to me a confirmation that hard work and talent pays off, and that I can contribute to society, despite all the obstacles that I had to overcome. The nomination truly is a cherry on the pie.

What role has your background played in your (school) career so far?

My family arrived in the Netherlands when I was only 6 months old. For twelve years, we were in an asylum seeking procedure. We had to go to court quite regularly and I always wanted to help out. Of course I couldn’t; I was too young and I had no knowledge of the rule of law. Partially because I did not want to be that helpless boy anymore that could not defend his parents, I decided to study law. I have always been highly motivated to study, being the first one in my family to go to university. I had to arrange and pay for everything myself. I also work in the “law shop” and teach Dutch to refugees, including teaching them about our constitution. I am from a country where democracy is not a given. Here in the Netherlands I want to protect the rule of law with everything I got.

I feel a duty towards my parents and towards society to give back. I want to show my parents that they haven’t fled their country for no reason; to society I want to pay back the education I have received.

Who were your role models or important mentors?

My parents. They taught me to work hard, to think about what I am doing and to listen. My friends have also always been very important, they have accepted me just the way I am. They have always made me feel that I belong here.

What can businesses improve when it comes to diversity? 

I see two challenges:

Law firms could be more diverse. With a more diverse team, the quality of the advice will increase. The current international societies need original solutions. Small changes make a difference, for instance discussing a different topic at the coffee corner.  

I also want to ensure that law remains accessible for everyone, really everyone. That is a very important aspect of our constitution.

What aspect of your background do you find valuable for the business world?

  1. Work hard and don’t give up. Getting up early and going to bed late, is very normal with us. The business world also expects that of you.
  2. The collective is more important than the individual. In my culture, we are very good at working in teams. Together we are able to find a better answer.

What are your future ambitions?

My mission is to help people with a lower income in the field of law. I don’t know yet which position I will hold, I also really enjoy the legal work. Ideally I would like to work four days a week for a larger firm and one day a week advising clients who cannot afford a lawyer. That would be the best.