The work-life quiz with James Bateson


James Bateson
Firm: Norton Rose
Title: Head of insurance
Lives: Harpenden
Education: Aldenham School; Southampton University; College of Law
Work history: 1984: Trainee, Norton Rose
1986: Associate, Norton Rose
1995: Partner, Norton Rose
2005: Head of insurance, Norton Rose

What was your first-ever job?

What was your worst experience as a trainee?
Sharing a room with someone who smoked more than 60 cigarettes a day.

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

What time do you usually leave the office?

What do you do at weekends?
Follow Watford FC and Harpenden Colts, and spend time with my family. I also play golf and tennis and go to the gym.

What’s your favourite restaurant?
To be honest I’d rather eat at home. I quite like Pizza Express and J Sheekey.

If you weren’t a lawyer what would you have been?
I did think of buying a bar to run in Greece. It was going to be called The Cuckoo’s Nest. I may still do this when I retire.

Who’s your hero and why?
Watford FC manager Adrian Boothroyd, as he not only believes in ‘possible impossibles’, he achieves them.

What’s the best thing about your job?
My team.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?
Letting my family down, because clients come first.

What’s your biggest work/career mistake and what did you learn from it?
I’ve worked with a number of outstanding associates, not all of whom have stayed with the team. I sometimes wonder if I could have done more to make them stay. It’s taught me the value of retaining real talent by treating people as individuals.

What car do you drive?
Lexus SC430.

What are you currently reading?
Jack Welch’s Straight From the Gut.

What’s on your iPod player at the moment?
The Killers.

What’s your favourite children’s book?
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, the Nigel Molesworth series by Ronald Searle and the Jennings and Derbyshire series by Anthony Buckeridge.

What’s the most exciting deal/case you have worked on and why?
I enjoyed working for the Law Society when we put together the solicitors’ professional indemnity scheme. Intellectually it was very challenging and I regard it as an honour to have my professional body as a client.

If you were stranded on a desert island what two luxury items would you take?
My wife and children.

What’s the worst partner conference location you’ve attended and why?
Our office at Kempson House, because I really think you need to get away to give everyone the chance to relax.

What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?
I once arrived in the office at 8.00am on Monday morning and didn’t leave until 11.00pm on the Friday night: we worked right through, but it was good fun in hindsight and I made some very close friends as a result of that deal.

If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you and why?
Ricky Gervais – he has the ability to laugh at himself, a quality I admire in people.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
I can’t think of anyone I’d be too bothered about. I can think of a few people I would like to be stuck in a lift with though.