Michael Wachtel, Watson Farley & Williams

If you were stranded on a desert island, what two luxury items would you take?
Cold beer and suntan oil.

Michael Wachtel, Watson Farley & WilliamsWhat was your first-ever job?
I actually had three ­simultaneous first jobs: delivering papers before school, washing dishes in my lunch hour and ­cleaning a garage forecourt after school. Far more lucrative than homework.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?
Working in the document factory known as commercial property. Churning out licences to assign commercial leases for eight hours a day is probably a little-known cause of insanity.

Where’s the best place to go if you want to find out what’s really going on in the office?
Pouring a few pints of beer down a willing trainee ­usually does the trick.

What time do you usually leave the office?
I try to get away by 9pm – and usually succeed.

What do you do at weekends?
These are dominated by my three-year-old daughter, wife and Labrador puppy (in that order), but I also enjoy shooting when I get the chance.

What’s your favourite restaurant?
The Gaucho Grill chain.

If you weren’t a lawyer what would you have been?
Before I became a lawyer I was working on oil rigs in West Africa. If I hadn’t had ‘a moment of clarity’, I’d probably still be there.

Who’s your hero and why?
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, not because of his politics or his ideology, but because he refused to be intimidated by a much stronger foe, and he won.

What’s the best thing about your job?
I love the cut and thrust of achieving a good ­commercial result for the client rather than getting bogged down in some ­esoteric point of law that has no practical ­commercial significance.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?
Persuading some conventionally minded people that sometimes an unconventional approach gives them the best result.

What’s your biggest work/ career mistake and what did you learn from it?
When I worked in a corporation I made the mistake of believing that doing a good job is more important than workplace politics. I learnt that, to be successful, I needed an environment that rewards results rather than politics.

What car do you drive?
I don’t drive a car unless I really have to, but I love my Triumph Tiger 1050 motorbike.

What book are you reading?
The Age of Turbulence by Alan Greenspan and Unholy Wars by John K Cooley.

What’s on your iPod?
The Byrds Play Dylan.

What’s your favourite children’s book?
Watership Down by Richard Adams.

What’s the most exciting deal/case you’ve worked on and why?
The $600m (£417.7m) acquisition of a group of companies with exploration and production rights in a Middle Eastern country. I was closely involved in the commercial side and was able to add a lot of value for the client.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what two luxury items would you take?
Cold beer and suntan oil.

What’s the worst partner ­conference location you’ve attended and why?
The ones in London are rather boring because… well… they’re in London.

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

If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you and why?
My wife tells me it should be Pierce Brosnan – on the assumption that she’d get to play herself.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
Any Blairite – I think the combination of the vertical movement and the spin would make me queasy.

Michael Wachtel
Firm: Watson Farley & Williams
Title: Partner in the international corporate group and head of the oil and gas practice
Lives: Guildford, Surrey

1985-90: Masters in mechanical engineering, University of Sheffield
1992-93: CPE, De Montfort ­University, Leicester
1993-94: LPC, De Montfort ­University, Leicester
Work history:
1990-91: Field engineer, ­Schlumberger
1991-92: Field engineer,Geoservices
1994-96: Trainee solicitor, Lovells
1996-97: Consultant, Premier Oil
1997-2000: Senior legal adviser, Arco International Oil & Gas Company
2000-02: General counsel, Veba Oil & Gas
2002-04: Legal director, Petro-Canada
2004-06: Of counsel, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
2006-present: Partner and head of oil and gas, Watson Farley & Williams

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