Julian Yarr, head of London office, A&L Goodbody

What was your first ever job?

Earning £40 a week as a canoe instructor on the L’Ardeche River in France.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?

Realising in a client meeting that my four years of studying law at university left me unable to answer a few basic questions about the sale of the client’s farm. He wasn’t much interested in my knowledge of the case law surrounding the rule against perpetuities.

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

To the pub with some of the firm’s trainees – the font of all gossip and knowledge.

What time do you usually leave the office?

I try to get away by sevenish. It depends on work.

What do you do at weekends?

I try to spend time with my wife and two young boys and if I get the chance I like to escape to the golf course or watch rugby.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

The Glasshouse in Kew and, in Dublin, L’Ecrivain.

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

I’ve only just given up hope of being capped for Ireland at rugby.

Who was your mentor or role model?

A variety of partners at the firm have kept me on the straight and narrow, including former managing partner James Osborne.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The mix of management, fee-earning and business development.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?

The family sacrifices that sometimes have to be made to be a transactional lawyer.

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

As a newly qualified solicitor, sending an urgent document by courier to a client in the postal sector, using their main competitor. Lesson: where you can, use your client’s business if you want to get and keep theirs.

What car(s) do you drive?

Cherokee Jeep.

What book are you currently reading?

The Rough Guide to the Da Vinci Code: History, Legends, Locations by Michael and Veronica Haag.

What’s on your CD player at the moment?

How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb by U2.

What’s your favourite children’s book?

Whichever one gets them to sleep the fastest.