What was your first-ever job?
Auction house porter.
What was your worst experience as a trainee?
Appearing for the State Bank of Iraq before Mr Justice Ferris on an ex parte application about an oil pipeline. I arrived at court alone to find Robert Hildyard QC, his junior and half of Freshfields on the other side. I was so many rows back I could hardly hear the judge. Mr Hildyard had to seek permission for me to speak, and then referred to me as ‘my learned friend’ throughout his submissions. He was a gent about it afterwards, but it was a near-death experience.
Where’s the best place to go if you want to find out what’s really going on in the office?
I keep asking, but no one will tell me.
What time do you usually leave the office?
What do you do at weekends?
I get great pleasure from making and fixing things. I also paint.
What’s your favourite restaurant?
The Satay House Malaysian in Paddington, and Hélène Darroze in Paris. If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you have been?Archaeologist, author, less content.
Who was your mentor or role model?
Professionally, Chris Ryan, a partner at Norton Rose and the finest all-round lawyer I’ve ever worked with. Personally, Picasso.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Watching my assistants develop, that split second when you spot something new in a case and the feeling when the usher looks at you and says: “Are you ready, gentlemen? Court rise…”.
What’s the toughest thing about your job?
You can’t make mistakes.
What’s your biggest work/career mistake and what did you learn from it?
Being naive in my loyalty. Lesson learnt: keep being loyal, stop being naive.
What car(s) do you drive?
I don’t own one.
What book are you currently reading?
Pre-Tang Ceramics of China by William Watson.
What’s on your CD player at the moment?
Leonard Cohen and Radiohead to cool down. Sinatra the rest of the time.
What’s your favourite children’s book?
Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl. The moral: be clever and keep digging.
What’s the most exciting deal/case you’ve worked on and why?
A case involving the corrosion of some turbine blades in a power station. Late one night I worked out how the corrosion had occurred by rigging up a greenfly sprayer and a section of blade in my office – I know it sounds nuts, but it was a very satisfying moment.
If you were stranded on a desert island what two luxury items would you take?
A snorkel and mask.
What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?
Not long really, but when I was young I once did four months without a day off, which I somehow think was worse.
If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you and why?
My assistants said Norman Wisdom. Go figure.
Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with?
Title: Partner, head of gambling
Lives: Paddington, London
Education: Merton College, Oxford; College of Law Chester
Work history: 1993-95: Articled, Norton Rose; 1995-2003: Solicitor, Norton Rose; 2003-present: Partner, Hammonds