Work Life Quiz: James Stewart, Manches

The work-life quiz James StewartWhat was your first-ever job?

As a farmer’s son, I helped with farmyard tasks while I was home from boarding school.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?

Leaving a client file on a bus and cycling like a madman to retrieve it.

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

Anywhere the trainees are exchanging stories.

What do you do at weekends?

Have brunch in Soho House, go to the gym or my other half’s photographic studio. Sundays I chill and spend time with my nieces.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Eyre Brothers – great Iberian food and hardly a lawyer in sight.

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

A farmer or an aerobics instructor.

Who’s your hero and why?

My PA Chryssie Louca and Manches chair Jane Simpson, who has an amazing sense of humour and co-founded Resolution, which changed family law.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Guiding clients through what may be one of the worst periods of their lives.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?

Having to give realistic advice to high-net-worth individuals in a country where parties can often achieve awards that can’t be bettered elsewhere.

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

When I first qualified I felt I could combine family and commercial litigation, but today’s family lawyer needs to be highly specialised.

What car do you drive?

I sold a much-loved BMW Z4 following a move to Covent Garden.

What book are you reading?

Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence.

What’s on your iPod?

Madonna and Justin Timberlake’s 4 Minutes.

What’s your favourite children’s book?

Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne.

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

Clibbery v Allan (2002), where my client successfully challenged the secrecy of the Family Courts.

If you were stranded on a desert island what two items would you take?

MacBook and fishing rod.

What’s the worst partner conference location you’ve attended and why?

Dull and depressing country houses where escape is limited.

If a movie was made about your life, who would play you?

James Nesbitt, as we went to school together and he could get my accent right.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with?

Gordon Brown.


Name: James Stewart

Firm: Manches

Title: Family partner and chair of international wealth protection

Lives: Covent Garden


University of Essex; College of Law, Chester

Work history:

1988-92: Articled clerk and solicitor, Bower & Bailey

1992-94: Solicitor, Solomon Taylor & Shaw

1994-99: Solicitor, Stephenson Harwood

1999-2006: Partner, family head, Reynolds Porter Chamberlain

2006-present: Partner, Manches