Michael Mclaren: Fountain Court

What’s the best thing about your job?
Flexibility of working hours (which, translated, means the ability to choose which anti-social hours to work).

What was your first-ever job?

A trainee with an engineering firm working on a chemical plant in Antwerp.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?
My pupilmaster was acting for Mohamed Al Fayed, who was being sued in the Commercial Court. I sat behind my pupilmaster taking notes. Beside me sat Al Fayed, distributing sweets. On day two, the myopic silk for the other side turned to Peter Scott QC, who was leading my pupilmaster, and asked: “Peter, why is your client’s brother taking such copious notes in the back of the court.”

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

What time do you usually leave the office?
Not before about 7pm.

What do you do at weekends?
All the things I ought to have done in the week but had no time for.

What’s your favourite restaurant?
Ristorante Lamole, near Greve in Chianti.

If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you have been?
A diplomat – I have a passion for travel.

Who’s your hero and why?
Dimitri Shostakovich, for his great courage in the face of repression and persecution, for writing sublime music, and for being the musical conscience of his country in troubled times.

What’s the best thing about your job?
Flexibility of working hours (which, translated, means the ability to choose which anti-social hours to work).

What’s the toughest thing about your job?
Bouts of unwarranted paranoia in those brief periods when the pressure of work slackens from almost intolerable to merely heavy.

What’s your biggest work/career mistake?
As a very junior barrister, lacking confidence and being too diffident about promoting myself when tentatively offered an interesting case in the Court of Appeal, whereupon it went to someone else.

What car do you drive?
A Mini and a clapped-out people mover.

What book are you reading?
1421: the Year China Discovered the World, by Gavin Menzies.

What’s on your iPod at the moment?
My daughter’s diet of music – it’s her cast-off.

What’s your favourite children’s book?
The Eagle of the Ninth, by Rosemary Sutcliffe.

What’s the most exciting case you’ve worked on and why?
The Equatorial Guinea coup case, which is heading for the House of Lords, for raising fascinating points of law, the high profile of the case in terms of public interest, and the sheer outlandishness of the alleged plot.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what two luxury items would you take?
A good hi-fi with ample CDs and an endless supply of Bendicks Bittermints.

What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?
About 20 hours.

If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you and why?
My daughter suggested Dustin Hoffman playing ‘Tootsie’, but I would settle for Kenneth Branagh.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
Rosa Klebb – it would be difficult to avoid her shoes.

Name: Michael McLaren QC


Fountain Court




Eton College; Cambridge University

Work history:

1981: Called to the bar, Fountain Court Chambers

2002: Made silk, Fountain Court Chambers