The work-life quiz with David Whincup


David Whincup
Firm: Hammonds
Title: London head of human capital (employment and pensions)
Lives: Radlett, Hertfordshire
Education: Newcastle High School, Staffordshire; Oriel College, Oxford
Work history: 1984: Articled, Clifford Chance
1986-94: Assistant, Clifford Chance
1994-95: Associate, Hammonds
1995-present: Partner, Hammonds

What was your first-ever job?
A cleaner in a cheap Paris hotel.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?
Outdoor clerking at 3.45pm on a hot Friday at the Bear Garden, with no clue as to what documents went where, to whom, in how many copies or why.

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

What time do you usually leave the office?

What do you do at weekends?
Wish the kids were old enough to drive.

What’s your favourite restaurant?
The Red Lobster chain in the US.

If you weren’t a lawyer what would you have been?
Something more useful.

Who’s your hero and why?
Michael Pilkington, my former boss at Clifford Chance, who taught me the difference between law and practice, and the importance of wearing proper shirts in business meetings.

What’s the best thing about your job?
My team.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?
Giving any of them bad news.

What’s your biggest work/career mistake and what did you learn from it?
Standing up before the Privy Council with the end of my tie inadvertently locked into my briefcase.

What car do you drive?
BMW 540i.

What book are you currently reading?
Beyond the Blue Horizon by Alexander Frater.

What’s on your iPod at the moment?
When I learn how to do it, I’ll fill it with light classical music and some regrettable soft ‘dad rock’.

What’s your favourite children’s book?
The Just William series.

What’s the most exciting deal/case you’ve worked on and why?
Beating the Commission for Racial Equality in the Court of Appeal on a claim by local workers for equal pay with expatriates.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what two luxury items would you take?
A proper shirt and some decent coffee.

What’s the worst partner conference location you’ve attended and why?
Darlington Moat House. And that’s for all the reasons that the location implies.

What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?
36 hours.

If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you and why?
Woody Allen, a role model for all of us with glasses and receding hair.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
It’s a close tie between (a) anyone else’s children, and (b) the sort of person who complains at dinner parties about how much the gardener costs.