Work Life Quiz: Denise Loney, Optima Legal

Denise Loney

What was your first-ever job?

Working in an old-­fashioned sweet shop – great fun, but not good for my teeth or waistline.

What was your worst ­experience as a trainee?

Working for a partner who required me to draft ­everything in pencil, which he would then correct with red pen – a frustrated teacher.

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

The water fountain or the ladies’ loo.

 What time do you usually leave the office?

It varies. Any time from 5.30pm.

 What do you do at weekends?

Taxi my children, run, read, cook, sing, watch whichever US drama series I’ve Sky-Plussed during the week and socialise.

 What’s your favourite ­restaurant?

Gamba – a fab fish ­restaurant in Glasgow.

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

A singer, a chef or a ­hairdresser to the stars.

 What’s your favourite film?


 What was the first record you ever bought?

A 1974 disco compilation with lots of cheesy tracks. It’s still great to dance to.

 Who’s your hero and why?

Just now I’d probably say Barack Obama. I think he’s a man of true character and principle.

 What’s the best thing about your job?

Variety – lots of client contact, managing a team of great staff and occasional appearances in court, so I definitely don’t get bored.

 What’s the toughest thing about your job?

The flip side of the above is sometimes it can be difficult to juggle everything.

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

Nothing spectacularly bad, but in general, when I’ve got something wrong, it’s because I’ve not listened to my gut or asked enough questions before ­committing to something.

 What car do you drive?

A Renault Espace.

What book are you currently reading?

A Death in Tuscany by Michele Giuttari.

 What’s your favourite ­children’s book?

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

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

I acted for a surveyor who was sued for a substantial sum arising from a ­property transaction. There were complex issues of agency law involved.

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

A pile of novels and my iPod.

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

Conference success relies heavily on the quality of the biscuits – if there are no chocolate ones left, then it’s a bad one.

 What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?

I sometimes have to work into the early hours preparing for court the ­following day.

 If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you and why?

Julia Roberts. She’s a great actress who would bring just the right amount of seriousness to the role.

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

Probably any politician.

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

I’ve sung on stage with the Harlem Gospel Choir in New York; I’m a book reviewer for Waterstones; I appeared on TV’s ­Masterchef and got through the first round.


Name: Denise Loney

Firm: Optima Legal

Title: Partner and director of litigation services, Scotland

Lives: Glasgow



1975-81: Westbourne School for Girls, Glasgow

1981-85: LLB, University of Dundee

Work history:

1985-88: Trainee and newly qualified, McCann Fordyce Solicitors

1988-90: Assistant and associate, Brown Mair Mackintosh

1990-2003: Associate and partner, Boyds Solicitors

2003-09: Partner, Semple Fraser

2007-present: Board member, Scottish Legal Aid Board

2009-present: Partner, Optima Legal