Work Life Quiz: Steve Ryan, SA Law


What was your first-ever job?

Stagehand at the local theatre.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?

Wandering into my principal’s office without a counsel’s notebook and pen. His reaction taught me never to do that again.

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

Our financial director’s office.

What do you do at weekends?

It usually revolves around the family and/or Stamford Bridge.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

I have been fortunate enough to be treated at Zuma in London on a number of occasions and the food is fantastic (but not cheap).

If you weren’t a lawyer what would you have been?

A professional sportsman.

What’s your favourite film?

Marathon Man or The Deer Hunter.

What was the first record you ever bought?

Hunky Dory by David Bowie.

Who’s your hero and why?

My nephew Chris, an aspiring professional golfer who, two years ago, was involved in a car accident aged 17 which left him paralysed from his chest down. He is on the fringe of the GB Paralympics squad for wheelchair rugby. His bravery and spirit astound me.

What’s your biggest work/career mistake and what did you learn from it?

Underestimating loyalty: I never meant to set up my own firm when I resigned from Pictons, but when word got round I was leaving people started knocking on my door asking if they could come with me – and SA Law was born. Seven years later we are 70-plus partners and staff strong. There’s a lesson here: have confidence in the impact you have as a person and what you can do.

What book are you reading?

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Fantastic – there’s a reason it’s called a ‘classic’.

What’s the most exciting deal/case you’ve worked on and why?

The acquisition of a £330m gross development value site in the east of England (the second-largest construction project in the UK after the Olympics).

Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order):

I’ve dropped my BlackBerry down the toilet; I’ve set my tracksuit bottoms on fire while wearing them; I’m a black belt in judo.


Name: Steve Ryan

Title: Managing partner

Firm: SA Law

Lives: Hertfordshire


1977-80: LLB (Hons), Queen Mary College, University of London

1980-81: Law Society Finals, College of Law, Guildford

Work history:

1985-90: Branch managing partner, Pictons

1990-95: HR partner, Pictons

1995-2005: Partner and head of commercial, Pictons

2005 to present: Managing partner, SA Law