Philip Stopford, White & Case training principal
14 January 2011
2 September 2013
22 December 2013
7 March 2014
2 September 2013
10 October 2013
White & Case’s training principal goes under the spotlight in our first 60 second interview of 2011 and warns aspiring lawyers of the huge demands a global law firm puts on you
Department: Energy, Infrastructure, Project & Asset Finance
University: Brunel University; University of Virginia
Degree subject: LLB: LLM
Hobbies: Home and garden design, watching cricket, playing golf and American politics
How long have you been a partner for? 22 years
Who/what inspired you to be lawyer? Sir Gerald Thesiger a high court judge for whom I worked as a Marshall. What inspired me? Politics and legal arguments.
What things did you wish you knew before embarking on a legal career? That a global practice puts huge demands on you 24/7.
What does your typical day involve? When in London, I try to be in the office by 8 am to catch up on e-mails and get a head-start on the day. The rest of the time is spent discussing transactions with the team, meetings and conference calls with clients, as well as dealing with graduate recruitment matters. About 30 per cent of my time is spent out of London, mainly in the Middle East and those days are governed by client demands
What are the most challenging aspects of your job? Balancing competing demands whether from clients, colleagues in the office or otherresponsibilities.
What has been the highlight of your legal career so far? Working on the massive Qatargas 2 / SouthHook LNG project for clients Qatar Petroleum and ExxonMobil.
What are the best aspects of your job? Dealing with amazing people, seeing former trainees progress to accomplished lawyers and constantly facing different situations and challenges.
What are the worst aspects of your job? When you cannot avoid dealing with administrative tasks.
What top tips would you give to students who want to break into the legal profession? Show sustained commitment to a legal career whether by relevant work experience or other activities and be interesting and engaged when you have the opportunity. Researching a firm would be my first and foremost piece of advice! We need people who show commitment and drive; the firms you are applying to can receive hundreds of applications so help your one stand out through thorough research.
What are the most common mistakes you’ve seen candidates making? Not focussing enough on why you are interested in our firm as compared to any other firm. Avoid spelling and other grammatical errors.
How has the legal market changed since the days you were a trainee? I never had the pleasure of being a legal trainee or articled clerk since I qualified in the US first, but when I started as a lawyer we were expected to be much more of a generalist and were allowed to continue in that vein for much longer. There has since been a move towards increased specialisation from a younger age, which in some respects is unfortunate.
What impact has the recession had on your firm? The upheaval in the global economy has had an impact on almost every business sector, and the business of law is no different. In particular, we have seen increased sensitivity to pricing and much more focus by clients on added value. Our very large global footprint and diversity of practice has helped us manage the challenges of this environment and take advantage of opportunities.
What three words best describe your firm? Global, entrepreneurial and dynamic.
Where did you go for your last holiday? Morocco.
What gadget/gizmo would you be lost without? An alarm clock