Anjalee Mead Profile
Anjalee Mead (Zimbabwe & Lincoln 2002) qualified as a solicitor in 2007 and is a Managing Associate in the Project Finance department at Linklaters. Although she is employed by Linklaters’ London office, she has been working remotely from Zimbabwe since 2014 – a special arrangement to accommodate Anjalee’s family life following the birth of her triplets in October 2012. She graduated from the University of Cambridge with a BA in Law. After being awarded the Rhodes Scholarship, she studied for an LLM in International Law at Oxford Brookes University and read for the MSc in Comparative Social Policy at the University of Oxford.
Rhodes Project: What did you find most remarkable about studying at Oxford?
Anjalee Mead: I did my undergraduate degree at Cambridge, so I came to Oxford with that experience under my belt. What I noticed most about Oxford was that it felt like a city, whereas Cambridge felt more like a small town. Despite Oxford’s size, I ended up knowing it better than Cambridge through being a Rhodes Scholar. I met more people on different courses and at different colleges than I did when I was in Cambridge. I did an MSc in Social Policy at Oxford, which was very interesting; I hadn’t studied anything like that before. I remember feeling very enthused about such topics as the welfare state—a construct that was new to me.
Rhodes Project: What attracted you to a career in law?
Anjalee Mead: For my A-Levels, I did a combination of arts and sciences. So when I was thinking about careers, I was attracted to the problem-solving aspect of law—you get to use the analytical parts from the sciences as well as the written reasoning skills from subjects like history.
I didn’t find the study of law to be the most appealing subject, and in hindsight I would probably have chosen something else. However, practising law is different: I’m working in project finance, which is actually one of the areas with the least amount of knowledge of law involved! It has a more practical and tangible aspect to it, which I find interesting.
Rhodes Project: What advice would you give to a young woman starting a career in law?
Anjalee Mead: I would say choose a specialty that you are interested in and don’t be afraid to change. It’s very easy to start something with the intention to move later, and then stay there for too long, without ever taking that risk.
Rhodes Project: What’s a favourite childhood memory of yours?
Anjalee Mead: It’s a bit random, but I remember standing in the back of a pick-up truck, driving through a field in the countryside with friends just after we had finished high school. Overseas, you have to wear seatbelts in cars at all times. Here in Zimbabwe, it’s a bit more laid back. It represents the sense of freedom I felt, of not having any worries. Looking back, my childhood seemed very carefree.
Rhodes Project: Where do you call home now, and what’s it like to live there?
Anjalee Mead: I live in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. It’s strange: it feels both familiar and unfamiliar. I left in 1999 when I started university and before Zimbabwe went through economic turmoil. So, to come back in 2013 after studying and working abroad, and given all the changes that the country has gone through, is odd. It’s great to be back with my family though, and of course it’s beautiful.
Rhodes Project: You presently work with Linklaters' London office from your home in Zimbabwe. How did this arrangement come about?
Anjalee Mead: I visited London at the end of my maternity leave and stopped by the office to resign and say bye in person. Before I went into the office, I had lunch with one of the partners from my department and I ended up revealing that I was going to resign. He noted that it didn't really matter to him where I was based and that we should see if another working arrangement would be possible, which I was surprised by since none of the associates in my department at the time worked remotely or part-time. It was a pivotal encounter—it meant that when I did meet the rest of the partners in the office, I mentioned the "alternative working arrangement" suggestion and it completely changed the conversation from a "resignation" discussion to a "let's see what's possible" discussion. Linklaters have been very supportive in accommodating this arrangement as they understand that it would be difficult for me to manage the demands of the job if I was living in London with three toddlers. It is a temporary arrangement but I have been doing this for two years now.
Rhodes Project: As a solicitor and a mother to triplets, could you share your reflections on work-life balance?
Anjalee Mead: I often describe it as "the best of the best" and "the worst of the worst". When things are going well, I can juggle client demands and fit them in around my home life and share moments with my kids which I would miss if I was working in an office. When things are not going well, I am responding to work requests on short notice and my kids are sick or crying for me at the same time (I have child care at home but I can still hear what is going on, so you're not completely removed). I am a transactional lawyer so work can be unpredictable and life with kids is definitely unpredictable, so it's not the best combination. I don't think I have an ideal balance—it’s more like a pendulum and sometimes everything feels okay but most of the time, the feeling of the constant demands on your time is overwhelming.
Rhodes Project: What was the last book you read for pleasure?
Anjalee Mead: It’s a book called Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada. I really enjoyed it, although it’s very dark. It was an interesting way to gain insight into life in Berlin during World War II. I didn’t initially realise that it was written at the time of the war—it felt very current, very modern. It’s about a married couple who engage in a subtle but dangerous form of political protest against the Nazi regime.
Rhodes Project: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
Anjalee Mead: I’d actually like to go back to Japan. I spent six months there as a trainee solicitor, and it’s such an amazing place—both because of its culture and its people. Working there for six months, you get a really good snapshot, but you don’t get to experience all of the country. I was based in Tokyo, but I visited Kyoto and Hiroshima, and during the summer we climbed up Mount Fuji.
Rhodes Project: What would your ideal weekend look like?
Anjalee Mead: It would be fairly simple: a shared meal with close friends, and lots of food and laughter. I particularly enjoy catching up with old friends who I don’t see very often. I’m really lucky that I have six close friends from my Rhodes year, and we try and meet up regularly although it is becoming more difficult with work and family commitments. There are three Canadians, one American, two Australians and me. So far we’ve managed to meet up in Paris, New York, Calgary and at the 110th Rhodes Reunion in Oxford – these catch ups are a good excuse to travel!
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