Name: Emily Reid
Organisation: Hogan Lovells
Year qualified: 1984
What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?
Probably the completion meeting I attended to close a bond issue when one of the bankers asked me if I’d like to perform a ‘floor show’. The documents had been signed and phone calls releasing funds made. There was nothing more to do other than celebrate. I was the only woman at the meeting and the only person under 30. I should have walked out and slammed the door but instead I said nothing and looked thoroughly humiliated.
What is the wisest thing anyone ever said to you (and who said it)?
This may not be the wisest thing, but it was advice that I frequently go back to and would pass on. It’s simple and obvious but it helped me have the confidence to take the time to make sure of my views on a particular point. This is vital for any lawyer, but especially lawyers like me who practice in a highly technical area which is subject to constant regulatory change in the context of a complex industry framework. It came from John Penson, a partner in the Banking team who sadly died very young.
He said: ‘never send any advice to a client if you have any doubt about anything you’ve said‘. Obviously as you become more experienced there are fewer occasions when this is relevant but I still seek views of other specialists in my area if I have any doubt.
This isn’t just sensible from a risk management perspective. By sharing the question and my thinking and getting others’ thoughts, we establish a team view on difficult questions which ensures consistency of approach for the advice we give across all our clients. It also encourages a culture where everyone can admit they don’t know an answer which makes us stronger as a team.
Who (for better or worse) has been the most influential person in your career? Why?
I began my career as Andrew Gamble’s first associate. What I learnt from him was the absolute necessity of combining ‘attention to detail’ with a keen commercial awareness. Another of Andrew’s mantras was ‘form is no mere formality’. This is a phrase I often repeat to myself and out loud. The way you present advice is vital. You must always think how your client will read it and whether they will find it accessible – and if it’s full of typos or small errors you undermine your own credibility.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?
My ambition has always been to do what is expected of me to the best of my ability working as part of a team. At the start of my career, this meant honing my skills as a regulatory lawyer doing a wide range of advisory and transactional work, always learning from others (both what to do and what not to do).
I have applied the same approach as, over time, I was asked to take on more and more roles and ultimately found myself in a position to propose new ideas and innovations for the firm. By taking this approach I’ve learned what I want to achieve gradually and almost without noticing it found myself in a position of seniority.
What’s your best friend from law school doing now?
She discovered pretty quickly that the legal profession was not for her and moved into Public Relations and on to other things. I admire people with the self-knowledge to recognise when they’ve made a mistake. She’s been happier as a result and clients have been much safer!