The Lawyer Inquiry: Ralph Picken

What subject(s) did you fail at school?

None.

What was your first job?

Porter at the Welsh National School of Medicine.

What was your first ever salary as a lawyer?

u2,857 pa.

What would you have done if you hadn't been a lawyer?

Forensic pathologist.

What annoys you most about clients?

They assume that you are always at your desk and waiting to speak to them.

What was your most satisfying professional moment?

Becoming a partner at Trowers & Hamlins in 1984.

What was your most embarrassing professional moment?

Crashing into a client's car (while the client was inside).

What do you like least about being a lawyer?

In my present position, herding cats (read the book Managing people is like herding cats by Warren Bennis).

And the best thing about being a lawyer?

My clients.

Who do you admire most, and why?

The Earl of Burlington, a great architect, arbiter of taste and patron.

Which famous person or historical figure would be your ideal client, and why?

Lord Berners, a great 20th century eccentric. A composer, writer and painter – he would have kept me permanently amused.

What is your most annoying habit?

Never finishing a sentence.

How do you relax?

Cooking Thai food.

What is your most precious possession?

My cases of 1982 Chateau Leoville Lascases (rated 100 by Robert Parker).

What is your biggest fear?

Waking up as Robert McCrum did (read the book My Year Out).

Where would you most like to be right now?

At the Boathouse in Phuket.

In 10 years' time where do you see yourself?

In the house which I am building on Old Providence Island in the Caribbean.