Zeenat was appointed as Junior Counsel to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry in 2017 and currently remains in this role. She is actively involved in Phase 2 of the Inquiry, involved with assessing the actions of the government in response to the fire in the immediate aftermath, in respect of the provision of humanitarian relief to the bereaved, survivors and residents. Within the aftermath module, she leads on areas in relation to No10, the Cabinet Office, the TMO, the bereaved, survivors and residents and community organisations involved in the response. Zeenat was also involved with Phase 1 of the Inquiry and contributed to the Phase 1 report. She welcomes instructions to represent core participants and as independent counsel.
Zeenat has experience of representing bereaved families in inquest proceedings and welcomes instructions to represent bereaved families and non-state/corporate bodies.
Challenges against public bodies
Zeenat is particularly interested in issues that disproportionately impact young people and those from racialised backgrounds and minoritised religious groups. She has a particular interest in cases that involve Islamophobia and is a volunteer legal supervisor for MEND’s Islamophobia Response Unit.
She has been instructed on cases representing large parent groups seeking to challenge schools and local authorities on the failure to properly consult in respect of the government’s implementation of Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education Policy. In addition to the failure to properly consult, the cases have engaged a number of other issues including parental rights, religious liberty and discrimination.
Additionally, Zeenat has advised on judicial review proceedings in relation to religious discrimination in educational institutions, referrals to PREVENT and closed cases by the police. Additionally, as part of her teaching at the University of Warwick, she designed and delivered the curriculum for the module which was based on judicial review proceedings in relation to emergency coronavirus legislation and the impact on the right to protest.
Prior to joining One Pump Court, Zeenat was an established criminal defence practitioner at 25 Bedford Row. As such, she has an in-depth knowledge of criminal justice issues with particular expertise in relation to counter-terrorism, youth justice and racial justice issues. She has advised on police complaints, the Victim’s Right of Review process and civil actions against the police. She welcomes instructions relating to challenges arising from criminal proceedings and interactions with the police and other state agents.
Zeenat is particularly interested in cases that engage the wider public interest. Through her work, she emphasises the importance of litigation being supported by non-legal forms of advocacy.
Zeenat has an extensive background in outreach and youth work. As such she is particularly interested in issues affecting young people. She has advised on a number of cases where students have faced disproportionate sanctions as a result of demonstrating activism and solidarity with particular humanitarian causes in their school. Issues have included; exclusions, discrimination and unlawful police involvement.
Following the government’s handling of the A-Level results crisis in 2020, Zeenat worked with and advised a number of students and parents from underrepresented backgrounds about how they could challenge their centre assessed grades, or in situations where no centre assessed grades were provided, what options were available to them. As a result of this work, Zeenat was featured on ITV news and worked with journalists to ensure there was coverage about the plight of private resit candidates, for whom no provision had been made. Similarly, following exam results in 2021 where students received teacher assessed grades, Zeenat advised students and parents on the appeal process.
Human Rights & Public International Law
Zeenat has wide ranging interests in human rights, social justice and international law from practitioner, academic and NGO/grassroots perspectives.
Current cases she is involved with include being instructed by an international NGO to advise on the international law mechanisms available in respect of the persecution of Uyghur Muslims and ethnic Kazaks. Additionally, she is instructed by the International Partnership of Human Rights in Belgium to deliver a legal consultancy project relating to the freedom of expression and the right to protest.
Whilst at the Bar, Zeenat has been keen to engage with organisations internationally. In 2018, Zeenat received a grant from the Bar Council to take part in the ‘International Lawyering in the Public Interest’’ summer programme at TMC Asser Institute in The Hague in affiliation with the University of Amsterdam. In addition to developing her international network, she deepened her understanding of strategic litigation, the importance of advocacy outside of the courtroom and how better to support community organisations in creating coalitions to achieve social change. She has continued to embody this learning into her legal practice in the UK.
In 2017, she recevied a scholatship from the South Eastern Circuit for the advanced advocacy course in Florida where she received and delivered advocacy training at the University of Florida.
In 2016, Zeenat received a Pegasus Scholarship from the Inns of Court to undertake a Fellowship at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, renowned for its movement lawyering approach. She worked within the Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative and international human rights team. She was involved with researching arguments for habeas corpus petitions challenging the unlawful detention of remaining prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. She also provided research assistance in relation to the blockade on Gaza and illegal settlement buility activity in occupied Palestine.
In 2015 she was a delegate on the ‘Lessons from Srebrenica’ programme with the charity Remembering Srebrenica. Over the course of the programme, she learnt first hand about the siege of Sarajevo, the Srebrencia genocide and the role of international law in providing some semblance of justice to victims and their families. Seperately, she was also involved with an education project with the charity UNIPAL and spent time volunteering in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
Domestically, Zeenat takes a human rights centred approach to all of her work. She has explored international and domestic standards for humanitarian relief for victims and survivors in her Inquiry work, made human rights arguments in the criminal justice context, advised on the merits of making an application to the European Court of Human Rights and subsequently drafted an application.
Prior to the Bar, Zeenat worked as a Research Associate for the Warwick Centre for Human Rights. She worked across a number of areas including: research and report writing for the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency, human rights and equality impact assessments, Sharia Law in a globalised world, refugee protection in the Middle East and international criminal justice issues.
She volunteered for Restless Beings, an international human rights organisation advocating for marginalised communities including the Rohingya community and Uyghur Muslims. During her time with the organisation, she led teams in PR, Youth Outreach and the Legal/Human Rights department where she provided organisation wide training.
Zeenat’s academic background is defined by her commitment to human rights work. She completed her LLM in Public International Law at the LSE specialising in terrorism and the rule of law, the international law of self-determination, use of force and laws of war, international human rights and rethinking international law. She is particularly interested in critical legal perspectives in a broader historical, social and political context and is regularly invited to speak on these issues.
Zeenat is keen to develop this area of work and is available for consultancy and advisory work on behalf of NGOs, community organisations, and individuals.
Race Trainer for the Bar Council’s Race Training Delivery Panel
Zeenat has been appointed as a trainer to the newly formed panel and will be delivering anti-racism training across Chambers.
Associate Tutor at the University of Warwick
Zeenat teaches Practical Advocacy on the LLB programme at the University of Warwick.
Adviser for (In)justice International
Zeenat is a member of the advisory board for (In)justice International, a multi-disciplinary international collective based at the University of Leeds. The organisation seeks to combine approaches in academia, policy and practice in order to explore and combat injustices in society.
Zeenat is the founder of REDEFINED Lawyers, an alternative platform for lawyers from underrepresented backgrounds championing social justice and social change. The project exists as a direct challenge to mainstream approaches to lawyering. We seek to critically examine and disrupt the status quo when it comes to what lawyers are supposed to be, what legal education looks like and what the role of a lawyer is.
YOU*th Inspire is an award winning educational initiative working with young people from underrepresented backgrounds across the themes of social justice, social mobility and skills development. The project seeks to inspire a voice of activism in young people and mobilise them to achieve, grow and contrinute positively to their communities. Zeenat founded the project in 2009 and has worked with hundreds of young people across the UK.
Speaker, Trainer and Consultant
Zeenat has a wide ranging portfolio of speaking, training and consultancy engagements across the legal, education, business and third sectors.
- Presentation at (In)justice International conference: ‘A Radical Rethink: The Law as a Tool of Oppression’
- Training for University of Law staff in Birmingham on improving educational outcomes for Asian women students
- Women of the World (WOW) Festival Panel: “What should young women’s education look like in the twenty-first century?”
- Lush Film Festival x Amaliah Panel: “The Judge Film: How do Muslim women access their God given rights?”
- Advisory work for philanthropist funder of university scholarship for BAME students in relation to improving quality and impact of the programme
- Training on youth justice for third sector organisations: ‘How to help your vulnerable service users in the Criminal Justice System’
- LawyerUP, Diversity & Inclusion panel
- Lincoln’s Inn: ‘The Equality Act 2010, 10 Years On’
- The Materialist Lawyers Group: ‘Getting Pupillage in a Racist, Classist, Sexist System’
- SOAS, Navigating Law as a Muslim Woman workshop
- Warwick Women’s Summit: ‘Women of Power, Leaders, Shakers and Movers’
- Muslim Lawyers Action Group: ‘Sisters doin’ it for themsevles’ International Women’s Day event
- Project Ribcage panel: “Pioneering – why it matters and why bother?”
- Keynote speech launching Critical Lawyers at Warwick group
Media and Features
Islam Channel on Youth Justice 2018
One TV: Showcasing British Bangladeshi talent 2018
Islam Channel: International Women’s Day 2018 event on ‘Identity, Women’s Activism and Lawyering’