Name: Roger Barron
Firm: Paul Hastings
In Hot 100 for: More mega-deals for long-standing client National Grid. Read his full Hot 100 profile.
What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee/pupil?
I was a trainee in the early 1990s and the main memories are of being allowed great responsibility on deals – sometimes terrifyingly so! The current trainees have responsibility too of course but inevitably with many transactions for the larger firms it’s limited to a discrete part of the matter. I also had my first taste of working overseas (in Hong Kong) which provided a great introduction to what being an international lawyer is all about.
Who has been the most influential person in your career? Why, and how have they helped you?
My first principal as a trainee was a then junior partner called Shane Griffin. He continued to be an informal mentor right up until his retirement and beyond (he’s now a full time student!). He taught me the importance of keeping calm and a sense of perspective (his highest praise in my first appraisal was that I was “considerably cool under pressure”).
He also had a fastidious attention to detail and a keen client-centric approach to everything he did, which I hope has rubbed off on me.
What was the best career decision you ever made, and why?
Having been to Hong Kong as a trainee, I spent a couple of years in Moscow and then Singapore as an associate. In a post-Brexit world English lawyers are going to have to be ever more internationally minded and I think there’s no substitute for immersing yourself in a different country and culture. It teaches you to be aware that there are other ways of approaching a deal even where there is an agreed common objective.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?
It’s good to be an expert and have a specialism or particular area of interest but equally be open to new opportunities, whether it’s an area of law or transaction type. With good legal training and experience you’re equipped to help clients with many of the issues they face and they don’t always want to be constrained by artificial internal barriers.
What work or career-related project or activity would you really like to do, but don’t have time for?
In recent years I’ve been fortunate enough to work with charities and organisations with a musical side, for example by being a trustee of the London Music Fund which supports the education of underprivileged children. Lawyers have a lot to contribute and if you can combine that with a particular interest you have then it’s personally rewarding but also enhances a range of other skills which you can then bring to bear in your day job.