I decided I wanted to be a lawyer aged 14. My parents’ friends were looking after me while my parents were away. They didn’t have children and wondered what to do with me – we started playing around with words during a game of Scrabble and after that it turned into a career talk because I was slightly argumentative. It struck a chord.
Titmuss Sainer & Webb was a real estate firm before forming an alliance with Dechert Price & Rhoads. The London property guys were worried because they wondered what a US firm would think of real estate. For me, it was an enormous benefit. It opened my eyes to international clients, the wider world, and not just domestic practice.
Continue reading “Life During Law: Ciaran Carvalho, Nabarro”
Clifford Chance (CC) was a great place to be in the 1990s. Geoffrey Howe deserves a huge amount of credit. He instilled that we were on a journey everyone else was seeking to replicate. The car was travelling fast. The concept of delivering that globalisation was a very powerful thing.
I didn’t have a plan but a lot of fortune. I took a view early on that there were hundreds of great technical lawyers and I would never be able to distinguish on just that.
Continue reading “Life During Law: Jason Glover, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett”
I grew up in a small town where nobody’s dad I knew worked in London. The fast train to London didn’t exist – my parents worked in local government. They’re peace campaigners and not City-type people. They have different values and so I grew up in a very different world to this. There are some benefits in having that background – it gives you a bit of perspective.
Back in those days there was very little daytime TV, so on rainy days during the summer holidays there was a programme we watched called Crown Court. They had actors dramatise a criminal trial with a real jury. It was fascinating to me and, although it’s the other branch of the profession, it really stimulated my interest in being a lawyer.
Continue reading “Life during law: Matthew Cottis”
I always wanted to be an architect. Unfortunately I’m very messy and that’s a bad combination. Building useful things, such as bridges and roads, would be a great job.
My father was a history teacher and my favourite subject was history, but I knew I was never going to be a history teacher as I could see what it was like for him. I did law to keep my options open and was offered a job by Simmons, which felt like a phenomenally well-paid job. It wasn’t my life plan.
Continue reading “Life During Law: Jeremy Hoyland”
I had training offers from a couple of Magic Circle firms, but I chose SJ Berwin because at that time they were at the forefront of private equity – it was a dynamic firm then. On qualification I wanted to be a finance lawyer and felt I would have got strong technical training in a firm like Freshfields.
I moved to Kirkland as a fourth year to develop business. I felt there would be more freedom to develop client-winning skills as well as doing deals. I am happy with my choices. It wasn’t a conscious decision that private equity would be such a prominent area – I’ve enjoyed a lot of luck.
Continue reading “Life During Law: Neel Sachdev, Kirkland & Ellis”
In the end Macfarlanes’ response to the recession was very strong. We learned not to be frightened of change and our powers embraced this in a way which was very invigorating… I wish we’d responded a little sooner. But we got there and I’m proud of what we achieved.
The firm got its mojo back. That wasn’t a given. We were phenomenally successful – we were a deal machine and managed to adapt in a way that the mix of the practice today is quite different to six years ago.
Continue reading “Life during law: Charles Martin”
There were different challenges during the downturn, you had to look to different markets. Challenges are always there and you are always after that next deal or that new client. I don’t think you could be here for 24 years without still being ambitious for that.
Working on the bailout was very intense – almost surreal, sitting in the Treasury trying to figure out how best it should be done. There was a deadline for having to announce something before the markets opened on the Monday. We all started on Saturday morning and worked all the way through to Monday morning. There were three banks we were looking at: RBS, Lloyds and HBOS, and then the Lloyds/HBOS combination. Each had a different thing to think about, they all had their own lawyers so there were three sets of documentation. The challenges faced and the creativity needed to get that off the ground were a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
Continue reading “Life During Law: Nilufer von Bismarck”
The first deal I worked on when I qualified at Allen & Overy (A&O) was for David Morley and everything went wrong. On the Monday morning, I went to his office and he saw the look on my face and said: ‘Helen, don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions.’ I turned around and walked out, but that stayed with me. The job of a lawyer is not to bring problems but to find solutions.
Continue reading “Life during law: Helen Burton”
I used to pretend I decided to be a lawyer at 16. My sister made a visit to me in London and one of our smarter associates asked: ‘So, tell us when Phil decided to be a lawyer?’ My sister said: ‘You were eight, weren’t you?’ She blew my cover. I’ve always been attracted to it.
Continue reading “Life during law: Phil Sanderson”
I don’t believe people that do well have an unerring right to succeed and it’s entirely down to their own abilities. Loads of incredibly able people don’t hit the right spot. I was very lucky that I started working as a lawyer doing something that I turned out to be good at. I could easily have done something else. I applied because I didn’t know what else to do.
Law attracts people who are not just in it for money, but want that sense of professionalism and intellectual curiosity, and also people who want to work with other people. I became more entrepreneurial as I became older, but whether I am entrepreneurial, I’m not sure. I’m a team person, not a classic entrepreneur.
Continue reading “Life During Law: James Palmer”