I joined in 1977, which makes me somewhat unusual in an industry where people move around a lot. People wonder why I’m still with the same firm, but it’s really a very different organisation these days. I’ve been fortunate enough to go through every stage of the firm’s development.
I’ve actually got two roles. At the moment, half my time is spent in management as Head of the London Office, looking after the wellbeing of the office and trying to make sure that everyone’s working together. That involves me in working across practice groups, meeting and supporting the group heads, as well as sitting on lots of different committees. It’s also my job to spread the word about Pinsent Masons in the City, which I’ve been trying to do over the last few years, and run relationships with a number of organisations that we sponsor, such as the Almeida Theatre in Islington and Surrey County Cricket Club.
The other half of my time is spent as a Partner in the Projects & Construction group. I’ve managed various parts of that group over the years: I set up the energy sector and I was head of the original Construction & Engineering practice group. Now I'm basically a run-of-the-mill partner with office-wide management responsibilities. I supervise matters for a range of clients, and manage our relationships with some industry bodies and associations.
The idea of client service has become much more sophisticated, joined-up and professional in recent years. Pinsent Masons is very much at the forefront of client relationship management in the legal sector because we take it very seriously. We’ve realised the power a strong client relationship has to generate work – the best prospect of attracting new business is through existing clients who enjoy working with us.
The firm also has a very strong reputation for getting to the heart of industry sectors. The construction sector and in the IT technology sector in particular are areas in which we’re very well known, and we’re working hard to develop similarly in government, retail, real estate and manufacturing. The other thing that we’re really good at is being an all-for-one, one-for-all firm that values and rewards people on what they do, not just for themselves and their group, but for the whole firm. It definitely contrasts us with other firms who may have a more aggressively individualist approach.
Graduates have become much more sophisticated in their understanding of the legal market, in their grasp of the differences between firms and in their choice of who to apply to. Equally, we’re more sophisticated in the techniques we use in reaching out and explaining to graduates what we’re about. It’s a two-way process that works to everyone’s benefit, really – after all, what on earth is the point for either party in anyone joining the wrong firm?
I take it as read that all the graduates we consider will be incredibly bright, talented people with fantastic credentials, and very difficult to tell apart on paper. Given that starting point, I look for people who are also great communicators with strong emotional intelligence, who are going to understand how their clients think and will go the extra mile to provide what they want. Personally, I think it all revolves around people and relationships – clients take the rest of it as a given.