Francois Barker: Hammonds

What was your first-ever job?

Waiter at a Little Chef.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?
Being sent to Aston Villa (one of the firm’s clients) thinking it was for a really important job, when it turned out my supervisor simply needed his football tickets collecting.

Where’s the best place to go if you want to find out what’s really going on in the office?
My guess would be the ladies’ toilets – but since this carries reputational risks, I usually settle for asking my secretary.

What time do you usually leave the office?
Usually 7pm to 7.30pm.

What do you do at weekends?
Pick up the ‘day job’ of running around after four young children – an eight-year-old and triplets aged six.

What’s your favourite restaurant?
Simpsons in Edgbaston.

If you weren’t a lawyer what would you have been?
An actor.

Who’s your hero and why?
Ian Botham, because he was such a talented all-round sportsman.

What’s the best thing about your job?
Working with a fantastically supportive, coherent and innovative team of lawyers, who are also friends.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?
Keeping ahead of the game.

What was your biggest work/career mistake and what did you learn from it?
Turning up to a prospective client’s offices in Reading to do a pitch presentation, only to find that the pitch was taking place at their London office. We still won the work, so we must have done something right.

What car do you drive?
Land Rover Discovery 3 2.8 SE TDI.

What book are you currently reading?
In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Alexander McCall Smith.

What’s on your iPod at the moment?
Jack Johnson.

What’s your favourite children’s book?
Matilda by Roald Dahl.

What’s the most exciting deal/case you have worked on and why?
Advising the pension scheme trustees on the reconstruction of Heath Lambert in 2005 – the first time a pension scheme of any size had claimed on the Pension Protection Fund. It involved applying within a very tight timescale a brand-new legislative framework (set out in the Pensions Act 2004), which had only come into force a month earlier.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what two luxury items would you take?
A sand wedge and a box of golf balls.

What is the worst partner conference location you’ve attended and why?
Heathrow Airport. Need I say more?

What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?
24 hours.

If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you and why?
Gérard Depardieu, because of my (half) French heritage.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
My children. You have no idea of the noise levels involved.

Name: Francois Barker
Firm: Hammonds
Title: Head of pensions
Lives: Warwickshire
Education: 1984-87: Nottingham Trent University (Law degree)
1987-94: University of Hull (PhD)
1994-95: Sheffield University (LPC)
Work history: 1995-96: Trainee, Edge & Ellison
1997: Qualified, Edge & Ellison
1999-2002: Associate, Hammond Suddards Edge
2002-present: Partner, Hammonds
2004-07: Head of Birmingham pensions, Hammonds
2007-present: National head of pensions, Hammonds