Celia Gardiner: Watson Farley & Williams

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What was your first-ever job?
A test operator for Rank Xerox. I fed pieces of paper through prototype photocopier machines, noting how and where the paper jammed up.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?
In my litigation seat, I had to transcribe endless handwritten notes. The parties to the litigation had scrupulously noted down various obscenities, all of which I had to dictate for the court.

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

What time do you usually leave the office?
Between 6pm and 7pm.

What do you do at weekends?
I am passionate about music and have formed a chamber choir that sings sacred polyphonic music from the Renaissance.

What’s your favourite restaurant?
Pescatori, Dover Street, London. Excellent Italian fish restaurant.

If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you have been?
A musician. I would also have joined a professional choir such as the Tallis Scholars.

Who’s your hero and why?
Oscar Romero, the Archbishop of San Salvador who was murdered in 1980. I admire his passion for justice and his martyrdom.

What’s the best thing about your job?
English law is a beautiful system: egalitarian, flexible, commercial, practical, with an elegant internal logic.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?
Competition for business.

What’s your biggest work/career mistake and what did you learn from it?
I did not watch out enough for internal politics at the early stages of my career.

What car do you drive?
I don’t!

What book are you reading?
In Xanadu: A Quest by William Dalrymple.

What’s on your iPod player?
I don’t possess an iPod. However, the music I listen to endlessly is Renaissance polyphony: Byrd, Tallis and Palestrina.

What’s your favourite children’s book?
The ‘Little House’ series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

What’s your most exciting deal/case you’ve worked on?
Representing a bond holder group in the aftermath of Barings Bank’s collapse.

If you were stranded on a desert island what two luxury items would you take?
A piano and the materials necessary to teach myself classical Arabic.

What’s the worst partner conference location you’ve attended and why?
Dallas. I made a facetious comment to a US friend about a famous Catholic who was shot dead in Dallas, and she cheerfully told me that I fall into several categories who are at risk of being shot.

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

Which actor would play you in a movie of your life and why?
Helen Mirren, who’d do the voice and the quiet stubbornness well.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
The person who shot Oscar Romero.

Name: Celia Gardiner
Firm: Watson Farley & Williams
Title: Partner
Lives: Seven Sisters, North London
Education: Queen Anne Grammar School, York; Charterhouse; Emmanuel College, Cambridge
Work history: 1984-87: Bank of England, banking supervision division
1987-89: College of Law, Chancery Lane
1989-91: Articled clerk, Norton Rose
1991-2000: Assistant solicitor, banking and insolvency, Norton Rose
2000-03: Partner, banking and insolvency, Landwell (now known as PwC Legal)
2003-07: Partner, banking and insolvency, Richards Butler (since 1 January 2007, Reed Smith Richards Butler)
2008: Partner, banking, Watson Farley & Williams