I grew up in North West London. My parents came from working-class, Irish Catholic backgrounds from Liverpool. Nobody had been to university. My mum left school at 14 but she was always keen on education.
I did law at Bristol University. It was in the pre-Thatcher days and I was lucky enough to be sent to university by the ‘Socialist Republic of Brent’. They paid for everything. Continue reading “Life during law: Paul Maher”
When I moved to Hull from Sheffield at five my next-door neighbour was a just-born, [Linklaters partner] Alex Woodward – Woodie. A very good friend. Our mums and dads are very good friends. Went to the same schools, drank in the same pubs.
Woodie is super-smart, so he got a training contract at Linklaters, whereas I trained at Stamp Jackson & Procter in Hull. Continue reading “Life during law: Richard Youle, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom”
My family moved from London to Essex in the seventies, we bought a big house with a big garden and were going to live off the land. We were basically seen as the village’s hippies – the obvious background for a City lawyer! It went wrong because my dad wasn’t very good at killing chickens, and I became very attached to a duck. He became a teacher to get an income to buy things.
I never decided I wanted to be a lawyer. I studied law because I wanted a fresh start. The school I went to – a large Essex rural comprehensive – did not traditionally produce Oxbridge candidates and I thought: ‘At least everyone is starting from the same place if I do law.’ But even then, I was clearly going to be a footballer, a rock star or a journalist in my head. Continue reading “Life during law: Tom Cassels, Linklaters”
My father was in the Ministry of Defence. There was a naval base in Singapore. Our family moved there when I was a baby. Left on a boat and arrived three-and-a-half weeks later. Singapore was pre-independence – a low-rise post-colonial town. Now you can stand on the waterfront and see skyscrapers for miles.
I trained at Cameron Markby and they offered me work in property and banking when I qualified. I’d set my heart on corporate. I had to decide: Ashurst or Linklaters. The partners at Cameron were supportive. They universally said that they would go to Ashurst if it were their decision. Continue reading “Life during law: Mark Elsey, Ashurst”
I grew up outside London and left school at 16 to start a mechanical engineering apprenticeship.
I didn’t have A-levels so the options were limited. I went to the Polytechnic of Central London. There was a mixed group from different backgrounds. We were all there because we wanted to be. Continue reading “Life during law: Andrew Witts, Gowling WLG”
I started at Paisner and then on qualification went off to Norton Rose. I joined Clifford Chance in 2000, which was the big global merger. They were a challenger in M&A. That’s why I chose them.
I started off at Midland Bank in Fleet Street opposite Freshfields. One of six trainees. Later I sent out 86 applications for articles. Four interviews and only one offer would pay my law school. That’s why I went to Paisner. Continue reading “Life during law: Patrick Sarch, White & Case”
I come from a big family. The only male. I have four sisters and was exposed to the talent and influence of women very early on.
My father’s influence led me into law. He had a very small law firm, just himself and another partner. And he was obsessed with me as his successor to get into law but in a different way from him. He was visionary enough to see that the law was going to change and it was better for me to do something different.
Continue reading “Life during law: Juan Picón, DLA Piper”
When I was 11-years old a teacher asked us to write down what we were going to do when we left school. I said ‘solicitor’. Half the class didn’t know what that was. My uncle was a solicitor and it seemed interesting. He used to do quite a bit of criminal law so I got it in my head I would do that.
Coming out of university I didn’t feel ready to go straight to law school. I wanted to experience the world. Two options: go travelling (but I had no money and a huge overdraft) and the other one was to do something different, so I joined the Avon and Somerset Constabulary.
Continue reading “Life during law: Lee Ranson, Eversheds Sutherland”
My father, who sadly died last year, did his articles. Absolutely hated it. Left as soon as he could. He did briefly work in London and then went to Edinburgh, and carried out his career as a fund manager. He was always much more interested in stock markets than the law. He was a very kind, calm and perceptive man.
I joined SJ Berwin in 1991, qualified in 1993, became a partner in 1999, left in 2004. Came back in 2006. Until the bitter end.
Continue reading “Life during law: Tom Usher, Macfarlanes”
My dad was a cab driver and my mum a factory worker. She was also a photographer’s assistant and met my dad at a wedding. After that she vowed to never drink again because she met my dad.
I went to a local state school in Wembley. I got into Oxford. There weren’t many people who went to university from that school. It was a very varied background; English wasn’t the first language for probably half of the kids at home. But it was a good school and I had teachers that cared.
Continue reading “Life during law: Ray Berg, Osborne Clarke”