Name: Susannah Kintish
Firm: Mishcon de Reya
Trained at: Lovells
Year qualified: 2008
What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?
I was once told by a supervising partner at a previous firm to “tone down” my northern accent as I may find it hard to progress. I listened to what he said – but did the opposite. I think he was trying to be helpful but I refused to conform to his stereotypes of what a City lawyer should sound like. When you have something meaningful to say, accent, gender etc. ought to be irrelevant. However, as an employment lawyer, all too often you see decisions made based on extraneous and sometimes discriminatory factors.
The experience also taught me the potential impact that senior staff can have on trainees and the importance of being sensitive and deliberate in your communications.
What is the wisest thing anyone ever said to you (and who said it)?
“Be generous” – James Libson. I have had the privilege of working with a huge number of exceptionally talented lawyers (and non-lawyers) at Mishcon; including our executive partner James. He has always demonstrated huge generosity: with his knowledge and expertise, with his time and with his relationships. It is partly as a result of that generosity that I have been able to build my own practice and I hope to emulate that with the hugely talented cohort of junior lawyers that we have coming through.
Who (for better or worse) has been the most influential person in your career? Why?
There are so many people and circumstances that have influenced my career. I am a sum of my parts and those parts are numerous. My husband is by biggest supporter and a true partner. Without him I absolutely could not do my job. I have also been immensely lucky to have some incredible sponsors at work. They have encouraged me to do things and push forward even when I was adamant that I could not (in particular Daniel Naftalin (head of employment), James Libson (executive partner) and Joanna Blackburn (head of diversity)).
Daniel and Joanna encouraged me to go through the partnership promotion process when I was on my second period of maternity leave. I thought they were bonkers but I followed their advice and it turns out to have been a great decision!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?
Work hard, be curious and don’t be afraid to stand out a little. I didn’t get an employment seat as a trainee and had never studied employment law. I had a feeling in my gut that I would love it and happily my gut didn’t fail me. I read books, signed up as a representative for the Free Representation Unit (which offers pro bono advice and representation on employment cases) and I had a bit of luck: Mishcon took a punt on a plucky NQ.
What’s your best friend from law school doing now?
She came to my wedding and snogged the best man (my husband’s brother). She is now my sister in law (and a high flying journalist at the Huffington Post)! After reading this, she may very well also be planning to kill me.