Work Life Quiz: James Trafford, Wilsons

What was your first-ever job?
Aged 17, working for a sailmaker. He was a world champion sailor and I idolised him.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?
Being handed suggestive notes by the post girl – I was so embarrassed I wanted to hide.

Where’s the best place to go if you want to find out what’s really going on in the office?
The firm’s happy hour on the last Friday of every month.

What time do you usually leave the office?
7.00-7.30pm – but it only takes 10 minutes to drive home.

What do you do at weekends?
Entertain my five children: we play tennis, football, rugby and squash; we cycle, run and swim. The great outdoors is a major benefit of living in the country.

What’s your favourite restaurant?
Longueville Manor in Jersey.

If you weren’t a lawyer what would you have been?
A professional yachtsman.

Who’s your hero and why?
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, a longstanding client and friend. I admire him for his sheer determination and ability to smile through great adversity.

What’s the best thing about your job?
Acting for a diverse collection of clients – from those with inherited wealth to entrepreneurs in many different industries.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?
Advising people on personal issues of huge importance. Helping them make the right decisions is the toughest, and also the most rewarding, aspect.

What’s your biggest work/career mistake and what did you learn from it?
Having even the slightest inclination to leave private client work when it wasn’t trendy or profitable in the mid-1980s. I learnt to stick to gut instinct – and it’s paid off.

What car do you drive?
A Volvo XC90 to transport my huge family, a VW Golf and a 36-year-old Land Rover.

What book are you currently reading?
I’m reading a Harry Potter book to my seven-year-old son.

What’s on your iPod at the moment?
The music from a recent party at home. An eclectic mix of Abba, Dire Straits, Robbie and others.

What’s your favourite children’s book?
‘Twas the night before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore.

What’s the most exciting deal you’ve worked on and why?
A recent one that involved five jurisdictions, complex tax and trust issues, selling shares in a multinational and a lot of euros.

If you were stranded on a desert island what two luxury items would you take?
A 40-foot racing yacht and a dry ski slope.

What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?
Twenty four hours, including the post-meeting session in a Zurich beer cellar with the client.

If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you and why?
Rowan Atkinson, due to the physical similarities.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
Robert Mugabe – because I saw Zimbabwe before he lost the plot and wrecked a wonderful country.


Name: James Trafford
Organisation: Wilsons
Title: Partner, head of tax and trusts
Lives: A village three miles from Salisbury
Education: Canford School, Southampton University, Guildford College of Law
Work history:
Articled clerk, Bond Pearce
1984-91: Assistant solicitor, Travers Smith
1991: Joined Wilsons as a partner
2002: Appointed head of trust and tax at Wilsons