Name: Spencer Davis

Organisation: Lifezone Metals

Role: Group General Counsel

Based: London

Trained at: Lewis Silkin

Year qualified: 2002

What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?

There are so many. Playing cricket in a square behind Fleet Street, running down to the RCJ to pay fees, microfiches and bundling at all hours, learning new skills throughout and how impressive and knowledgeable the seasoned lawyers were. It was an hugely enjoyable period. I formed lasting relationships and was very fortunate to have truly varied and excellent training.

Tell us about a sliding doors moment when your career could have gone in an entirely different direction?

After passing the New York Bar, I explored moving to New York. I was also looking UK for in-house roles, where I hoped I could put my NY qualification to use. I didn’t know whether to leave private practice or move into commerce. I received an offer from a New York law firm, and at the same time an offer for my first in-house role in the UK. There was a definitely a moment where my career path could have gone either way.

What’s the hardest question you’ve ever been asked at interview, and how did you answer?

“Talk me through buying a shirt.” It completely threw me, and I answered clumsily. Not sure I would answer any better today.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?

It is difficult to predict what the future of the legal profession will look like. Technology is having an enormous impact on the legal industry, including technology-focused legal investment. There is clear potential for AI to inform decision-making and automate tasks. Legal advice at the moment remains an art form, in spite of AI’s potential and emerging impact.

Resilience is an important skill, and lawyers should try to develop a network in the legal profession and beyond in order to learn and innovate. Exposure to different sectors and varied industries will provide an alternative perspective.

Have a willingness to learn and keep your brain in a sponge-like state. Seeing things from other perspectives supports better working relationships, negotiating strategies, and maximises your value for clients.

Endeavour to provide first-class client service and go the extra mile. This will differentiate you from the pack. The client relationship is critical, whether in private practice or in-house. Try to communicate clearly and effectively, in a language the client understands.

Acquire business-sense, as it will help progress deals, provide an understanding of how to grow revenue, hire and manage, and lead teams. Law firms want lawyers that will win a pitch. Businesses look for an in-house lawyer that understands the business and similarly will be ambitious for its success.

Tell us about ONE former colleague who you miss, and why? (It doesn’t have to be a lawyer)

The former General Counsel at my first in-house role. A brilliant strategist, a gentleman and he became my mentor. He remains a close friend.