Work Life Quiz: Richard Smith, Manches

What was your first-ever job? A multi-tasking summer job in a department store in Watford involving waste collection and disposal, operating the customer lift and being a sales assistant in the linens department. I won Employee of the Month.

What was your worst ­experience as a trainee?

Having to be a minder for the son of a famous commercial client being prosecuted for theft in Derby County Court.

Where’s the best place to go if you want to find out what’s really going on in the office?

The marketing team’s office.

What time do you usually leave the office?

Physically 6pm. Virtually 11pm.

What do you do at weekends?

When I’m not having fun with my son, I eat, drink and enjoy the North Oxfordshire countryside.

What’s your favourite ­restaurant?

The Lords of the Manor in Upper Slaughter.

If you weren’t a lawyer what would you have been?

A professional tennis ­player.

What’s your favourite film?

Blade Runner.

What was the first record you ever bought?

The Jean Genie by David Bowie.

Who’s your hero and why?

Leonardo da Vinci. A ­multitalented genius who pushed the boundaries.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Mixing with some really inspirational people.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?

Trying to find solutions every week to almost intractable problems.

What was your biggest work/career mistake and what did you learn from it?

Not taking up a chance to work in Florence on a human rights programme that could have led me towards an international career. It’s always easy to take the safe option, but often less rewarding.

What car do you drive?

A Volvo V70 (the safe option!)

What book are you reading?

A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks.

What’s your favourite ­children’s book?

The Water Horse by Dick King Smith.

What’s the most exciting deal/case you’ve worked on and why?

Helping three high-profile chemicals/minerals ­companies achieve a change in landfill tax ­legislation which, in the years since we won our argument through ­persistent lobbying, has saved them well over £100m. It involved being highly creative in putting together complex ­arguments concerning
EU law and policy in a ­simplified form for ­consideration by MPs, ­senior civil servants and ministers, attendance at Parliamentary sessions and close liaison with political consultants.

If you were stranded on a desert island what two luxury items would you take?

A piano and a set of sharp knives (for cooking, ­obviously).

What’s the worst partner ­conference location you’ve attended and why?

A vague location in South Wales where the emphasis was more on the golf than the business in hand.

What’s the longest you have worked without sleep?

Fifty-two hours.

If a movie was being made about your life which actor would play you and why?

Clint Eastwood. We’re the same height (an important detail).

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?

Ann Widdecombe. We’re not the same height.

Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order)

I’ve ridden on a motorbike through the jungle in ­Vietnam; I’ve ridden in a jeep to the Pakistan border with Afghanistan with an armed guard; I’ve ridden
a camel across the Sahara.

Richard Smith
Firm: Manches
Title: Managing partner and head of ­property, environmental and planning, Thames Valley
Lives: Ascott-under-Wychwood, Oxon

1975-82: Watford Boys Grammar School
1982-85: LLB (Hons), Reading University
1985-86: LPC, College of Law, Guildford

Work history:
1986-90: Trainee, then associate,
Wedlake Bell, London
1990-97: Partner, Dallas Brett, Oxford
1997-99: Partner, BrookStreet des Roches, Witney
1999-present: Manches, Oxford/Reading