The work-life quiz: Mark Stewart

What was your first-ever job?

A summer job baling hay and straw for £1 per hour, plus breakfast and free beer throughout the day, which seemed a fortune in the mid-1970s.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?
I was sent to a restaurant one Friday evening to serve a notice relating to potential insolvency proceedings. I asked for the manager and told him it was a legal notice on which advice should be obtained. On Monday there was a letter from the restaurant’s lawyers claiming I had gone around the tables telling people the restaurant could not pay its debts and that they should not eat there. Fortunately, another letter was received from the lawyers, intended for their client, explaining how they had made up the allegation to buy time.

Where’s the best place to go if you want to find out what’s really going on in the office?
The Yellow Budgie, the in-house bar at our offices.

What time do you usually leave the office?
As soon as possible, as I prefer to start early.

What do you do at weekends?
My weekends are mostly family-orientated. During the summer I try to go down to our holiday home near the beach – and my boat – in Dorset.

What’s your favourite restaurant?
Informal places such as the Loch Fyne, Pizza Express or Café Rouge chains.

If you weren’t a lawyer what would you have been?
A chef or something in property.

Who’s your hero and why?
The two ex-marines who took me and a group of novices on a trek to the North Pole earlier this year are impressive. They were Alan Chambers and Pete Goss, who have both received honours for their leadership and incredible personal achievements.

What’s the best thing about your job?
The people.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?
Not being told what the real timetable is.

What’s your biggest work/career mistake?
Not spending a few years in one of the Clifford Chance overseas offices earlier in my career.

What car do you drive?
A Mercedes CLK, although I drive a Yamaha FJR 1300 motorcycle much more.

What’s on your iPod player at the moment?
Music by the likes of Mike and the Mechanics, Eminem and Bob Marley.

What’s your favourite children’s book?
I think Gerald Durrell’s books were the only ones I read voluntarily as a child.

What’s the most exciting deal/case you’ve worked on and why?
The buyouts of MFI and Redpack Packaging, which kicked off the UK’s leveraged private equity acquisition market.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what two luxury items would you take?
An offroad motorcycle and an iPod.

What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?
Wednesday to Saturday, with a few naps at the desk.

If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you and why?
It would probably have to be Gordon Ramsay’s movie debut – I’m told there are similarities.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with?
Lots of other people.

Name: Mark Stewart
Firm: Clifford Chance
Title: London finance managing partner
Lives: Hertfordshire
Education: University College School, Hampstead; University of Bristol; College of Law, London
Work history: 1981-86: Articled clerk and assistant, Richards Butler 1986-90: Associate, Clifford Chance 1990: Partner, Clifford Chance