If you weren’t a lawyer what would you have been?
When I was at school I wanted to be a journalist.

Ian HammondWhat was your first-ever job?
Working on a farm breaking up bales of straw and stuffing the straw into plastic bags that people would then buy from pet shops as bedding for their rabbits. I made £19 in the first week.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?
When I was newly qualified I took some important original documents to the print room late one night and they were never seen again. We searched people’s offices for them in vain. I thought that was pretty much it in career terms.

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

The partnership secretary knows everything, but she’s not telling.

What time do you usually leave the office?
This is a hostage to fortune but I’ll say about 7.15pm.

What do you do at weekends?
Cycle, go to the gym, play golf, watch sport and movies, occasionally sail. Enjoy family life.

What’s your favourite restaurant?
In London: Chez Bruce on Wandsworth Common. Anywhere: the Gramercy Tavern in New York.

If you weren’t a lawyer what would you have been?
When I was at school I wanted to be a journalist.

Who’s your hero and why?
Alan Bennett, John Peel and Don Revie’s Leeds United side of the early 1970s.

What’s the best thing about your job?
The challenges posed by the client work, seeing the dispute resolution practice thrive and the (relative) autonomy that comes from being a partner in a firm such as this.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?
The challenges posed by the client work, fretting about the dispute resolution practice continuing to thrive and the responsibilities that go with being a partner in a firm such as this.

What’s your biggest work/career mistake and what did you learn from it?
A regret rather than a mistake, but I wish that I’d taken the opportunity to spend a couple of years in one of our international offices.

What car do you drive?
A 2004 VW Golf.

What book are you reading?
Several: Saki’s short stories; Griff Rhys Jones’s Semi-Detached; Andrew Marr’s A History of Modern Britain. The best book I’ve read recently was Sebastian Faulks’ Engleby.

What’s on your iPod?
From this century: Elbow and the Fleet Foxes. From the last: Jeff Buckley, Miles Davis and quite a lot from the philosopher king Bruce Springsteen. And several of Mark Kermode’s film review podcasts.

What’s your favourite children’s book?
At the time I was very taken with The Famous Five. Now, if it counts as a children’s book, Northern Lights by Philip Pullman.

What’s the most exciting deal/case you’ve worked on and why?
An insurance claim made following a jewellery robbery in Manhattan that I worked on 15 or 20 years ago. We had experts on safe-breaking and blowtorches, and flew the judge (now Lord Justice Waller) to New York to inspect the safe in the NYPD’s offices.

If you were stranded on a desert island what two luxury items would you take?
A racing dinghy with satnav and a radio that I can tune to 5 Live.

What’s the worst partner conference location you’ve attended and why?
The venues for these sorts of conferences are all as bad as each other – they’ve become a blur of breakout rooms, flipcharts, fizzy water and Mint Imperials.

What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?
On a trip to Japan three years ago I had almost three nights without
any sleep, very much in the style of Lost in Translation except that
I was on my own.

If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you and why?
Bradley Whitford, who played Josh Lyman in The West Wing. Or Hugh Laurie, if he’s available.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
The Daily Mail editorial team, which would be quick to apportion blame and say that lift breakdowns were symptomatic of the country going to the dogs.

Ian Hammond
Title: Partner and head of the international disputes group
Firm: Simmons & Simmons
Lives: Dulwich
1972-81: Bishop’s Stortford ­College
1982-85: Law, Nottingham ­University
1985-86: College of Law, ­Guilford

Work history:
1986-88: Trainee, Simmons & Simmons
1988-98: Associate, Simmons
1998-present: Partner, Simmons