Name: Rebecca Ferguson
Firm: Gordon Dadds
Trained at: Clifford Chance
In Hot 100 for: Helping Gordon Dadds float on AIM. Read her full Hot 100 profile.
What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?
I remember the very early days of being a trainee when the days in the office seemed incredibly intense in contrast to my previous life as a student, with long demanding days in a large international law firm (Clifford Chance), trying to impress the partners and senior lawyers and learning to apply the law to find solutions for clients, rather than just focusing on the academic elements.
The time management course I attended in my first week as a trainee still registers with me when I needed to juggle a lot of tasks in the office and out. There was also a very long night drinking Russian champagne in what was Hodgsons wine bar in Chancery Lane, the night the solicitors’ finals results came out, and (it being the days before the internet) the tense moment when everyone crowded round an early print of the next day’s Times to see who had passed.
Who has been the most influential person in your career? Why, and how have they helped you?
There have been a few. John Hanby-Holmes was my first principal at Clifford Chance, who took the time and trouble to teach me the importance of thoroughness in legal research which I still apply today.
Margaret Mountford at Herbert Smith taught me that no error, however minor, is ever acceptable when providing premium legal services. I vividly recall being pulled up for a comma being out of place in a very complicated legal agreement that I had drafted for a particularly demanding client, but credit to Margaret for making me the lawyer I am today.
And then there’s John and Adrian Biles for their entrepreneurship and vision in making Gordon Dadds such an exciting firm to be part of.
What was the best career decision you ever made, and why?
Going to the Manchester University milk round in my second year and meeting the recruitment partner from Coward Chance, which resulted in me being offered Articles at Clifford Chance and the best training contract and start in the legal profession I could have wished for.
Also I think it was a tough but good decision not to give up or go part-time when I had my three children because it would have been very difficult to maintain my career at the level I wanted it to be.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?
For aspiring lawyers, I would say work really hard and get the best A-levels and degree that you can but most importantly be rigorous in attending the university milk rounds and applying for student placements at the law firms whilst you still are a student because training contracts are increasingly hard to come by and there are many able graduates out there who have left it too late and are now really struggling to get into the profession.
Also don’t be put off applying for the big firms. For others in the profession I would also say work hard and stay focussed and believe in yourself.
What work or career-related project or activity would you really like to do, but don’t have time for?
I like the idea of being a magistrate or judge one day probably because I am a frustrated litigator at heart, but also because I think that after a lifetime in practice and having seen the highs and lows of the profession I would have quite a lot to contribute.
I also think it would be fascinating to be a part of the legal team tasked with deciphering the complexities and intricacies of Brexit. However, the world of private practice still holds enough challenges and excitement to keep me going for now.