Work Life Quiz: Philip Rodney, Burness

What was your first-ever job?
Photographer for a local newspaper.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?
The dustmen were on strike for an extended period. So every Monday we had to take the week’s detritus to the tip.

Where’s the best place to go if you want to find out what’s really going on in the office?
Our receptionists. They’re the eyes and ears of the firm. No scandal passes them by.

What time do you usually leave the office?
I arrive between 6.30am and 7am and try to leave at 6.30pm. We have young kids and I like to get home in time to see them.

What do you do at weekends?
Take the kids to tennis, swimming, parties etc. I try to get to the gym and we go to the cinema or out to dinner with friends on Saturday night. Inevitably I do a spell in the office on a Sunday.

What’s your favourite restaurant?
Café Gandolfi in Glasgow. My wife and I had our first date there.

If you weren’t a lawyer what would you have been?
A radio DJ.

Who’s your hero and why?
My senior partner at Alexander Stone Alfie Phillips comes closest to being a hero. He taught me that you can’t compromise on integrity.

What’s the best thing about your job?
You just never know what’s going to happen next.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?
Making decisions that are right for the firm, but hurt an individual in the process.

What’s your biggest work/career mistake and what did you learn from it?
Agreeing a senior appointment because it was politically the right thing to do. I learnt always to show integrity, even if as a result you’re out of step with the majority viewpoint.

What car do you drive?
A John Cooper Works Mini.

What are you currently reading?
Destination Space: Making Science Fiction a Reality by Kenny Kemp. It’s an excellent book about space tourism.

What’s your favourite children’s book?
The Redwall series by Brian Jacques.

What’s on your mp3 player?
The Who’s Live at Leeds and BBC Radio 4’s I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue.

What’s the most exciting deal/case you’ve worked on and why?
A very public and colourful boardroom battle that was plastered all over the newspapers. There was a number of court actions running simultaneously and we also had to do our best to ensure that the PR angle supported our position.

If you were stranded on a desert island what two luxury items would you take?
My iPod and my BlackBerry.

What’s the worst partner conference location you’ve attended and why?
A hotel near Peebles. It was also being used to train paramedics to carry out emergency procedures. It looked like a field hospital.

What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?
Nothing terribly macho, I’m afraid. Just the odd night.

If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you and why?
John Malkovich. He does sensitive and unpredictable well.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with?
Esther Rantzen and George Galloway.


Name: Philip Rodney
Firm: Burness
Title: Chairman
Lives: Glasgow
Education: University of Strathclyde
Work history:
Trainee, McGrigors
1975-79: Assistant, Alexander Stone & Co
1979: Partner, Alexander Stone
1998: Partner, Burness (following merger)
1999-2004: Head of dispute resolution, Burness
2004-present: Chairman, Burness