Name: Robert Camp
Firm: Stephens Scown
Position: Managing partner
In Hot 100 for: Reinvigorating Stephens Scown with a focus on employee engagement. Read his full Hot 100 profile.
What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?
Two memories spring to mind – the first being reprimanded by my principal for suggesting to a family client (who were arguing over who had the goldfish) that they cut the goldfish in half.
The second was racing to Warwick Crown Court on the back of my principal’s motorbike and getting there just in time.
Who has been the most influential person in your career? Why, and how have they helped you?
It’s difficult to pick out one individual. My first principal had faith to take me on as his articled clerk at a time when you really had to have a family connection in the law to get articles – something which I did not have.
Another would be a partner at Berwin Leighton (as it was then) who took me under his wing on qualification and let me do some great work acting for Tesco.
Similarly, an inspiring partner at MinterEllison in Sydney who first introduced me to mining work and law – something that stood me in good stead when I moved to Stephens Scown.
What was the best career decision you ever made, and why?
Taking the plunge and moving to Hong Kong with Simmons and Simmons in 1988. A brave move but good for so many reasons – one of which was getting property development experience on some substantial infrastructure projects at a relatively young age. Also, going to Hong Kong opened the door to me working in Sydney – not a bad life for someone in their late 20s / early 30s!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?
If you want to move over to management and leadership in a law firm, push yourself to the limit in learning about what a good leader is. We are not taught this and you need to learn it. Look outside the legal sector, attend courses and seminars outside your comfort zone. Speak to people who you admire and look up to; become a sponge for ideas and – most of all – have faith in yourself. It is not always easy and can be lonely. You will need to be tough and resilient in order to succeed.
What work or career-related project or activity would you really like to do, but don’t have time for?
Last year we set up a number of strategic Board projects involving people from all levels within the Firm – one of which was an Innovation group. I would have loved to have been part of that group and take the time to really explore the benefits of innovation in the legal sector, making some real and lasting changes both in the way that we process work and interact with our clients. I talk about being at the forefront of the “Human / Digital” relationship with our clients but I just don’t have the time at the moment.