Name: Katy Colton
Organisation: Mishcon de Reya
Role: Head of Politics and Law, managing associate
Trained at: Mishcon de Reya
Year of call: 2013
What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee/pupil?
There were many highlights (and some lowlights!) from my time as a trainee. I appeared on Sky News walking into the Leveson Inquiry with a client, went to trial against The Daily Mail in my second month and attended a dawn raid while sat in the IP department.
And for lowlights, I once took an attendance note of a hearing on the back of a printout of a map, as I had forgotten to bring a pad of paper. My supervisor has never let me live it down. And as first year trainees we were tasked with continuing the “tradition” of performing at the firm Christmas party. For reasons which now escape me, the six of us chose to perform a Mishcon-themed rap song.
What is the wisest thing anyone ever said to you (and who said it)?
I was told early in my career by my mentoring partner that a career is long, and I should not try to rush to get to where I wanted to end up. I think about this often. You cannot plan your whole career out, as you do not know what the next case you will be working on will be and where it will take you in relation to experience, client contacts and learning points. This has given me great perspective as I move forward in my career and develop my practice.
Who (for better or worse) has been the most influential person in your career? Why?
I have been fortunate to work with a great many inspirational and passionate people during my time at Mishcon, but James Libson has been the most influential to my career. I have learnt an enormous amount from him over the years, not just in relation to legal strategy (in which he is an expert) but also in cultivating a practice through expertise, excellent client management and developing junior lawyers.
James is passionate about the importance of the role lawyers play in society, which is borne out in the important cases on which has worked, including acting against the Holocaust denier, David Irving, for numerous whistleblowers over the years, for Gina Miller and most recently, in relation to antisemitism in the Labour Party. I have had the privilege of working with James on the more recent of these cases, and he has instilled in me the ethos of the social responsibility of lawyers, which I hope to continue through the Politics and Law group.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?
Find an area of law that interests you, do not underestimate the importance of working on a wide variety of cases rather than specialising early, and recognise that some of the biggest learning opportunities can arise in a loss (as hard as it may feel at the time!).
What’s your best friend from law school doing now?
One of my best friends now lives in Australia after helping to set up Clyde & Co’s energy insurance practice, with a particular focus on renewable energy. I was immensely jealous of her beach life while we suffered during the dark winter lockdown in the UK!
Another close friend helped found a boutique brands and sports law firm after he qualified in 2014, which has since grown enormously. And another friend has taken a different path and has come full circle, now teaching at the University of Law in Manchester where we all studied.