Work Life Quiz: Seamus Smyth, Carter Lemon Camerons

What was your first-ever job? Schoolteacher.

Seamus Smyth 1
Seamus Smyth 1

What was your worst ­experience as a trainee?

Failing to notice that page 99 was missing from a ­document that had to be initialled on every page by several important people.

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

The tea room or the lift.

What time do you usually leave the office?


What do you do at weekends?

General domesticity. Swim, golf, eat, drink, cook, some work.

What’s your favourite ­restaurant?

Rules in London.

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

Soldier, teacher, writer – depending on the ­crumbling of the cookie at the time of the decision.

What’s your favourite film?

Lawrence of Arabia.

What was the first record you ever bought?

Hambone by Bill Haley. Don’t ask me any more about it. It was in about 1956.

Who’s your hero and why?

FW de Klerk, for having the wisdom to see that he and his followers had been wrong and the courage and strength to persuade them to radically change course.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The stimulus of horsing around with ideas and words in a competitive environment.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?

Ploughing through masses of boring material in search of the nugget that matters.

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

Submitting to unduly long working hours while my sons were small. Children grow up very quickly whether you’re paying attention or not and the clock can’t be put back.

What book are you currently reading?

The Tribes of Britain by David Miles.

What’s your favourite ­children’s book?

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

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

Hartt v Newspaper ­Publishing plc (The ­Independent) (1989): about the provenance of a work by Michelangelo, two juries, documents in four ­languages (including Latin), three appeals and limitless anecdotes.

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

Shaving brush and blades.

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

Answer withheld – inevitably defamatory.

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

Thirty-six hours.

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

No one would choose the role. If I could choose, it would be someone truly ornery, like Nick Nolte.

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

A life insurance (or any) salesman. No escape.

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

I never get bored; when I was 19 I should (at least ­statistically) have been killed; I tie my shoelaces in the reverse direction.


Name: Seamus Smyth

Firm: Carter Lemon Camerons

Title: Head of litigation

Lives: West Malling, Kent


1966-70: BA, LLB, University of Witwatersrand

1975-78: LLM, UCL

1992-93: Diploma in international commercial arbitration, Queen Mary, University of London

Work history:

1970-72: Trainee, Webber Wentzel, South Africa

1972-74: Assistant attorney, Routledge-­MacCallums

1975-77: Trainee, Ashurst

1977-78: Solicitor, Ashurst

1978-84: Partner, Ashurst

1984-94: Sole principal, Smyth & Co

1994-present:  Partner and head of ­litigation, Carter Lemon Camerons