Jan Birtwell: O’Melveny & Myers

What’s the best thing about your job?
The people and the excitement of an opportunity to build a business.

What was your first-ever job?
Working in a chemists – very informative for a naive Northern girl.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?
Informing beneficiaries of Lord So-and-So’s will, who had worked for him all their lives, that he’d left them the grand sum of £50 in recognition of their service.

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

What time do you usually leave the office?
Physical office, 6-7pm, virtual office (BlackBerry), rarely.

What do you do at weekends?
Catch up with my husband and three sons and my sleep.

What’s your favourite restaurant?
Trawlers in Looe, Cornwall.

If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you have been?
A trophy wife.

Who’s your hero and why?
My husband – for supporting me and becoming chief chef.

What’s the best thing about your job?
The people and the excitement of an opportunity to build a business.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?
Being ambitious and patient at the same time.

What’s your biggest work/career mistake?
No regrets, move on.

What car do you drive?
Old Mercedes estate (with family and dog); old Porsche Carrera convertible (for fun).

What book are you reading?
Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple.

What’s your favourite children’s book?
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell.

What’s the most exciting deal you’ve worked on and why?
Advising the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation on its bid for BAA – it was our first big corporate deal for the new London office, a great win.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what two luxury items would you take?
My husband and a case of good Puligny-Montrachet.

What’s the worst partner conference location you’ve attended and why?
At Linklaters, the Hilton, Edgware Road, rainy day in November – say no more.

What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?
24 hours – but I’ve been more sleep deprived when on maternity leave.

If a movie was made about your life, which actress would play you and why?
Rachel Weisz – intelligent, attractive, young (some artistic licence required).

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
O’Melveny London chief John Daghlian on the rare occasion he loses a pitch.

Name: Jan Birtwell
Firm: O’Melveny & Myers
Title: Tax partner
Lives: Windsor
Education: Manchester High School for Girls; Bristol University
Work history:
1984-86: Trainee, Osborne Clarke
1986-89: Associate, Linklaters
1989-91: Manager/senior manager tax, PricewaterhouseCoopers
1991-2001: Associate, Linklaters
2001-05: Partner, Linklaters
2005-present: Partner, O’Melveny