The work-life quiz

John Fordham, head of commercial litigation, Stephenson Harwood

What was your first-ever job?

Caddy on the local golf course for £1 a round. My first full-time, non-temporary job was as an articled clerk at Stephenson Harwood nearly 33 years ago.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?

Trying to be very clever and acknowledge a letter, in a partner’s absence, but getting the gender of the client wrong.

Where’s the best place to go if you want to find out what’s really going on in the office?

Just about anywhere other than my room.

What time do you usually leave the office?

Usually quite late, apart from Fridays, when I leave as soon as the congestion charge has finished.

What do you do at weekends?

During the summer play cricket, and during the winter look forward to the next cricket season.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Reubens in Baker Street or the Dulwich Tandoori in Lordship Lane.

If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you have been?

Goodness knows. I went to university to read French and German with a view to being a teacher, but I quickly got fed up with Baudelaire’s poems and Goethe’s plays. I would have made a dreadful teacher.

Who was your mentor or role model?

Litigation: Michael Wilson, former head of litigation at Stephenson Harwood, who taught me the importance of clarity of thought and expression. Mediation: Tony Willis – the importance of relationship building with everyone at the mediation.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Coming up with ideas that improve the client’s position in a dispute.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?

Dealing with tricky partnership and staff issues.

What’s your biggest work/career mistake and what did you learn from it?

A client sacked me for not being sufficiently bullish. Advice must be true, but you learn how to present it.

What car(s) do you drive?

Jaguar S-type. I wish I still had the Toyota TR2, but it doesn’t take as many cricketers and their bags.

What book are you currently reading?

A biography of Gandhi and The Lie That Wouldn’t die: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion by Hadassa Ben-Itto. Reading is slow-going, other than on holiday.

What’s on your CD player at the moment?

Some Nigel Kennedy jazz after I heard him recently at Ronnie Scott’s.

What’s your favourite children’s book?

Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne.