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