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Catherine Usher, London managing partner,DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary
What was your first-ever job? Chambermaid at the Swan Hotel in Wells, Somerset.
What was your worst experience as a trainee? Day one of articles and also my first day in London, being thrust a sheaf of papers with the order: "Go and defend this in the Bear Garden". I didn’t know where the High Court was, let alone the Bear Garden within it. I got to within an inch of deciding that the law wasn’t for me.
Where’s the best place to go if you want to find out what’s really going on in the office? I find the facilities department pretty reliable.
What time do you usually leave the office? 8pm-ish.
What do you do at weekends? Worry about the snails eating my hostas.
What’s your favourite restaurant? The Sloop Inn in Bantham, Devon.
If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you have been? A jeweller.
Who was your mentor or role model? My old mum. Long since dead, but she was very wise.
What’s the best thing about your job? The mix of client and management work.
What’s the toughest thing about your job? Squashing it all in.
What’s your biggest work/career mistake and what did you learn from it? As a newly qualified solicitor, taking an oath and asking the signatory to sign his name while holding a Bible in his right hand. As he struggled with book and pen in the same hand, I became paralysed and unable to open my mouth because only inappropriate mirth would have issued forth. It was a valuable lesson in thinking before speaking.
What car(s) do you drive? An Audi A4.
What book are you currently reading? I usually have a couple on the go. At the moment it’s The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill and Arthur & George by Julian Barnes.
What’s on your CD player at the moment? I bought an iPod recently. My son has loaded all sorts of modish stuff such as the White Stripes, but I usually default to Gregorian Moods.
What’s your favourite children’s book? The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.