Work Life Quiz: Steve Wardlaw, Baker Botts

Steve Wardlaw

What was your first job?

Customer returns at Toys R Us. It wasn’t the bright orange stripey jackets, it was the abuse when we wouldn’t give refunds for toys that still had the Boots label on.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?

Apart from a 56-hour closing, being sent by a partner to his house because his wife had locked her keys in the Volvo. She signalled me to come around to the back, because the front entrance was “not for staff”.

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

Until I was a senior associate I used to be a semi-pro Latin-American ballroom dancer.

What’s your favourite film?

Pan’s Labyrinth or Donnie Darko.

What was the first record you bought?

If we can’t skip this question, it was the theme for the Blue Peter Cambodia appeal. But my first album was Kings of the Wild Frontier by Adam and the Ants.

Who’s your hero and why?

Tom Bingham. His judgments are enlightening.

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

At a closing, forgetting to ask the owner of the company we were buying (and who was quite emotional) to sign his resignation letter, so I had to chase him down the street with it. You can never prepare too much for closings – our associates are used to my ‘dry runs’ now.

What book are you reading?

Travels in Siberia, by Ian Frazier, and The Homegrown Revolution, by James Wong.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I get to work a lot in Russia – a country I love.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?

Being pulled in many directions.

In a movie about your life, which actor would play you?

I’d want John Le Mesurier, but others may take a different view.

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

Nigel Farage. Odious man.

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

I’m a great karaoke singer; I’ve played the triangle on Radio 3; I had an insurance company named after me in an ITV drama series.


Name: Steve Wardlaw

Title: partner-in-charge, London

Firm: Baker Botts

Lives: Marden, Kent; Dalston


1988-91: LLB, Kings

College London

1991-92: Law Society finals, College of Law, London

Work history:

1992-96: Trainee and assistant, Slaughter and May

1996-97: Legal counsel, Johnson Matthey

1997-99: Associate, Arnheim & Co/Arnheim, Tite & Lewis/Landwell

2000-05: Senior associate, then partner, Baker Botts

2005-12: Partner-in-charge, Moscow, Baker Botts

2012-present: Partner-in-charge, London, Baker Botts