Chris Holland meets a rising Bradford-born lawyer who hopes his progress can be an inspiration to other youngsters.

ASK Shakeel Dad if he enjoys his work and he will tell you that he has his dream job.

The football-mad Bradford-born Cambridge graduate is forging a successful career which enables him to use his legal skills in association with the game that he loves.

His contacts book includes football club chairmen and managers from some of the leading Premier League, Championship and League One football clubs.

Shakeel, the younger son of immigrant parents from Pakistan, attended school at Miriam Lord, Drummond Middle and Belle Vue Boys before studying for a law degree at Cambridge.

He joined Leeds-based law firm Walker Morris as a trainee in 2006, choosing to specialise in employment law once trained .

He has become a key member of the firm's sports law department, advising four Premier League and seven Championship clubs along with several in lower leagues.

Shakeel, who has just been named Walker Morris's youngest ever director- one level below partner, advises clubs on managerial appointments and departures; club acquisitions and sales, employment and immigration issues and player/manager negotiations.

Shakeel said: " I really do think that I have my dream job. I recognised early on that employment was the area I wanted to work in and to be able to focus my expertise on football is a real bonus.

"I have been encouraged and supported by partner David Hinchilffe who heads the sports law team in what is a fascinating and exciting field in which to work."

Shakeel's career so far has seen him advise on managerial appointments including Alan Pardew at Crystal Palace; Eddie Howe at Bournemouth, Sean Dyche at Burnley and others including Neil Warnock, now at Rotherham United.

"We have built up real momentum in this area and I have developed a strong relationship with the League Managers Association which acts for managers as well as the Football league, whose chief executive Sean Harvey, previously of Bradford City, has been very helpful.

"I also worked with Sean when he was at Leeds United where I did most of the employment legal work. It's been two Bradford lads working together."

Walker Morris has acted on every football club insolvency over the past decade- advising buyers, clubs and administrators in deals involving Bradford City, Leeds United, Portsmouth Crystal Palace as well as Bradford Bulls.

Advising on solvent sales and acquisitions has included deals for current Premiership leaders Leicester, Reading and Bolton.

Shakeel also undertakes day-to-day work for clubs on HR issues, grievance and disciplinary matters as well as individual players' contract and employment issues.

"Every job different and that's what makes it so exciting and interesting. There's no template - deals are always quirky and unconventional with different bargaining positions.

"The work is 24/7; if a chairman wants you at strange hours of the day or night then so be it. It's fast moving and pressurised but I like that. It's just wonderful if, like me, you are a fan fascinated by football power and politics

"I have drawn up contracts with the press waiting in the next room for the details and also draft the announcements. I'm part of the team that clubs rely on to get things right," said Shakeel.

Shakeel's parents came to Bradford from Pakistan in the 1960s and his father , who had no formal education, worked in the mills for 25 years and then drove taxis for 15 years.

"I'm a proper Bradford lad from a very ordinary background and still live in Bradford with my wife and two young children. I would hope that the progress I have made can inspire other young people, especially those from the Asian community.

" Belle Vue was a great school and the teachers worked hard to help me achieve my ambition to study law at Cambridge," said Shakeel who served as be a Belle Vue governor for 18 months .

His legal work has also included advising on employment issues for Bradford College and Bradford Council. Walker Morris also acted for his former school Drummond Middle when it became the Iqra Academy where the head teacher was Shakeel's former class teacher.

Shakeel has a burning desire to help other young people from modest backgrounds to progress. Education is a key area of interest for him and he mentors children at the Iqra Academy and Belle Vue.

He has also been an ambassador for Bradford Council's 'bsomeone' campaign which celebrates learning aspiration and achievement as pat of prioritising educational attainment and skills development.

Shakeel was partly motivated by his elder brother who now runs his own Bradford law firm, J&N Legal Services .

"He was the first on the family to get to university and was a massive influence on me . My father also encouraged us both to study law in order to help us think in a reasoned way and to boost our career prospects," said Shakeel.

Shakeel has followed a tradition of being a Liverpool supporter.

He said: "Many Pakistanis who came to England did so when Liverpool was riding high and was the team they saw most on television. As a kid I was obsessed with playing and watching football ans also played for the college team at university. "

Nowadays, of course, he's invited to matches by many leading clubs in his professional capacity.

"Attending football matches is my way of business networking which is absolutely brilliant, although I have to keep convincing my wife that it is work!"

Shakeel, who has featured in the Pakistan Power 100 list published by The British Pakistan Trust to honour influential people of Pakistani origin, was president of the Cambridge University Pakistani Society which provides pastoral care and advice to Pakistani students and engages with Pakistani charities and mosques and other organisations. He also worked with the Pakistani High Commission in London developing ideas for ways to help youngsters who are not academically bright.

Shakeel said: "I believe I have an obligation to help youngsters make the most of their abilities and ambitions whatever their start in life. For instance, I help pupils to complete their UCAS university application forms and I have been back to Belle Vue school numerous times to provide support and advice to students, " he said.

Shakeel is one of only two Asian lawyers in a firm of 400 or so professionals - which he says is a typical proportion among larger corporate law firms.

He said: " While there are many small Asian run law firms, people from the Asian community have not succeeded enough in penetrating the major corporate firms.

"It's often down to young Asians not being given the right career guidance, family contacts or confidence to seek such opportunities. Again, I would hope that my own example will encourage more young Asians to follow in my footsteps."

A new initiative in which he is involved is a new Asian professionals group in Bradford launched by a group of doctors, dentists and lawyers . The group is looking to mentor and encourage sixth formers in Bradford schools through half day sessions.

Of the 20 trainees who started at Walker Morris at the same time, Shakeel is the first one to reach director level .

He said: " I am very appreciative that i have been given access to fantastic work and been give great support in helping to build the the football practice. This has enabled me to be ahead of the curve professionally for which I am very grateful.

Shakeel could be said to have had a baptism of fire when he started on sports law. One of his first jobs was to meet with then Leeds United owner Ken Bates .

"Actually, he was very friendly," recalled Shakeel.