David Stone, Allen & Overy, corporate litigation, Hot 100Name: David Stone

Firm: Allen & Overy

Position: Partner, global head of brands

In Hot 100 for: High-profile trademark cases. Read his full Hot 100 profile.

What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee/pupil?

Early on, I was seconded to a drop-in legal centre for homeless young people, where I was often not much older than the clients. It was an excellent, if sobering, experience – mostly criminal law, but also benefits, tenancy and consumer law, and involved a lot of advocacy, often for people in pretty dire circumstances.

I remember representing a young man who was questioned about a very gruesome murder. When I went to the station, the police locked me in the cell with him while we waited for a line-up. I took that as an indication that they didn’t really believe he was guilty – that, and the forensic evidence all pointing the other way…   

Who has been the most influential person in your career? Why, and how have they helped you?

I was lucky enough to work for Kathryn Everett for many years at what was then Freehills (now Herbert Smith Freehills) in Sydney. Having worked also at Linklaters in London, Kathryn was internationally respected in IP circles. Sadly, she was taken from us by cancer far too early.

No matter how busy, no matter what client and other demands she faced, she always had a smile for whomever knocked on her door. I try to emulate that every time someone knocks on mine. I hope one day to be half the lawyer she was.

What was the best career decision you ever made, and why?

Deciding to follow the law rather than pursuing a career as an opera singer (but that’s a whole other story…).

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?

Take your time! I barrelled out of six years of university straight into an associateship with a judge, then into working for a firm, and since then haven’t taken any substantial time out. It might be a good thing to take a year off after university to explore the world and life in general.

Along with many of my peers, I was also very focused on reaching partnership as early as possible. 13 years later, I think it probably wouldn’t have mattered if it had happened when it did or a year or two later. Ambition is very important – but take your time and remember to enjoy the journey.  

What work or career-related project or activity would you really like to do, but don’t have time for?

I’m incredibly lucky that the reason I’m short of time these days is because my weeks are filled with great client work, writing and lecturing, and lately, sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge, so I’m not complaining. But if I could magic a few extra hours in the day, I’d love to get back into more voluntary work for industry and charitable organisations, and perhaps get cracking on a PhD.