Name: Nicholas Scott
Role: Managing partner
Trained at: Clifford Chance
Year qualifed: 1995
What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?
One of my seats was in the employment team. I shared an office with one of the employment partners. On my first morning I arrived early, but thought he must have moved room because there was no visible sign (photographs, personal items) of him on his desk or in our office.
It turned out that he had an absolute rule that at no time should you have more than one piece of paper on your desk. If at any time there were more than three you could tell things were frantic. It’s a rule I have stuck to for 20 years. It certainly made my own move to agile working easier…..
What is the wisest thing anyone ever said to you (and who said it)?
My predecessor as managing partner at Brodies said never to try to do more than three things at once. He didn’t say if running a law firm counted as one!
But it is good advice – pick three things, do them properly, do three more. Repeat.
Who (for better or worse) has been the most influential person in your career? Why?
Can I cheat and say two? Firstly, the real estate partner at Clifford Chance who I shared an office with for my first three years as a qualified lawyer. He was extremely successful in building his own practice but also went on to run the wider real estate practice. He taught me that being a lawyer was about more than the law – that it was a business, and one made up of people. And therefore it was as important to focus on what motivates clients and colleagues as it is to understand the technical law.
And secondly my predecessor as managing partner at Brodies, who I worked with for 15 years. From him I learnt a host of things; the importance of being seen to be the market leader in any discipline you focus on; scale counts if you want to be relevant; that you will make mistakes so learn from them; stick to the truth and say what you have done rather than talk about what you might do; confidence is our most valuable commodity; the importance of a consistent financial message (and the discipline that requires around cost) and the importance above all of brand – with clients and with colleagues.
That last point guided our response to 2020’s events – whatever we did, we set out to do nothing which damaged our brand with our clients and our colleagues.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?
I would remind them that when you are in a leadership role it is not about you. Legal businesses are about everyone else – clients and colleagues. So I would advise them always to ask themselves how the person they are speaking to feels in their company. Will they want to do what you are asking them to do for you? Do they feel supported, motivated, inspired?
What’s your best friend from law school doing now?
Right now, she is asking me when I’m going to make the coffee. We have been married for 21 years! As a lawyer who has been a partner in a law firm she is also very adept at letting air out of the management balloon…