The work-life quiz with Tom Brooke

What was your first-ever job?
A goatherd in the Massif Central, France.


Tom Brooke
Title: Head of law
Organisation: Hackney Learning Trust
Lives: Hackney
Education: English, Queen Mary London
Work history: 1987-89: Articled at Rubinstein Callingham Polden & Gale (RCPG)
1989-90: IP solicitor, RCPG
1990-2003: Solicitor, Wandsworth Council
2003-present: Head of law and company secretary, Hackney Learning Trust

What was your first-ever job?
A goatherd in the Massif Central, France.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?
Running along Raymond Buildings toward the High Court bent double, late for court, with my tie stuck in a laden document trolley being pushed at great speed by a very excited partner.

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

What time do you usually leave the office?
In time to watch University Challenge.

What do you do at weekends?
Not have deadlines – mostly. Climbing, eating, taking the youngest out, drinking, chores, trying to track the teenagers, sleeping… The usual stuff.

What’s your favourite restaurant?
Chez Bruce, Wandsworth – great food, very fair prices, happy memories.

If you weren’t a lawyer what would you have been?
A herder of something bigger and more challenging than goats – perhaps bison.

Who’s your hero and why?
No individual. People who handle tragedy with dignity.

What’s the best thing about your job?
Having a great team.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?
Historically, not having the above.

What’s your biggest work/career mistake and what did you learn from it?
Perhaps staying too long in a job where I was comfortable. You should keep challenging yourself.

What car do you drive?
An Ariel Atom and, when I wake up from that dream, my bike.

What book are you currently reading?
One of Henning Mankell’s Inspector Wallander mysteries.

What’s on your iPod at the moment?
Mazzy Star – and I don’t think it’s a real iPod.

What’s your favourite children’s book?
The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle by Beatrix Potter, which is set in a part of the Lake District that I’ve known and loved all my life.

What’s the most exciting deal/case you’ve worked on and why?
A successful judicial review of the Schools Adjudicator and the ensuing ‘conversation’ with the Department for Education and Skills.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what two luxury items would you take?
A box of good cigars and a faithful mongrel.

What’s the worst partner conference location you’ve attended and why?
I’m very happy to say that I’ve never attended one.

What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?
Not that long – I’m good at sleep.

If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you and why?
James Gandolfini. If you don’t understand, there’s no point trying to explain.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
Anyone with the means and inclination to commit acts of extreme violence… or Sting.