Work Life Quiz: Robin Jackson, Doughty Street Chambers

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
Anyone who can’t fix it.

Robin Jackson

Robin Jackson

What was your first-ever job?
Officer cadet at Sandhurst, one of the lowest forms of employed life.

What was your worst ­experience as a trainee?
Being simultaneously informed by two regimental sergeant majors of what they’d do to me if I continued to chat idly to my neighbour on their parade.

Where’s the best place to go if you want to find out what’s really going on in the office?
My office. Well, I can dream can’t I?

What time do you usually leave the office?
I don’t. ‘The office’ isn’t simply a geographical concept.

What do you do at weekends?
Be with my family. It’s the reason I work. I also email those barristers who don’t have a life.

What’s your favourite ­restaurant?
The terrace at the Grand Hotel des Bains in Venice, where my wife and I ­honeymooned.

If you weren’t a lawyer what would you have been?
If I hadn’t been a soldier I might have been a lawyer. Scary.

What’s your favourite film?
Citizen Kane.

What was the first record you ever bought?
The theme from Fireball XL5. I was quite young.

Who’s your hero and why?
The latest person to hit the news with some selfless, truly dedicated action that is both inspirational and puts most of our everyday woes into proper ­perspective.

What’s the best thing about your job?
Working with people who are inquisitive, ­challenging, principled, committed and absolutely sincere, and trying to ensure that the values of chambers underpin everything we do as a business.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?
Occasionally having to make someone face the reality of disappointment and helping them do that.

What’s your biggest work/career mistake and what did you learn from it?
Trusting unquestioningly yet incorrectly the integrity of someone, who happened to be my boss at the time. Trust and respect have to be earned, they don’t come with the territory. Every leader should learn this.

What car do you drive?
A very small Citroen C1 or a very old Mercedes estate. I haven’t had a midlife ­crisis yet, but couldn’t afford a sports car anyway. What do you think I am,
a partner in a law firm?

What book are you reading?
The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell and I’m rereading Niccolo ­Machiavelli’s The Prince.

What’s your favourite ­children’s book?
The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier – a wonderful story of hope and determination.

What’s the most exciting deal/case you’ve worked on and why?
Whatever’s the latest plan to recruit talent or otherwise develop chambers. The thrill really is in the chase, whatever the aim. When you’ve succeeded you can feel pleased, but not satisfied – time to move on to the next goal.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what two ­luxury items would you take?
A photo of my family and a fully fuelled powerboat (for leisure purposes, not for escape).

What’s the worst partner ­conference location you’ve attended and why?
The Bar Council doesn’t allow me to be a partner yet. Why not?

What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?
Around 70 hours, shortly after the US bombed Libya in 1986. It’s fascinating to analyse your physical and cognitive powers over such a period.

If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you and why?
Denzel Washington – a tall, strikingly handsome ­leading man. Okay, why not?

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

I enjoy keeping in touch with work by email at night and weekends.

I find it really easy to switch off and relax on holiday.

Working here is better than being shot at.

Robin Jackson
Chambers: Doughty Street Chambers
Title: Chambers director
Lives: Oxfordshire
1978-79: Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst
1991: Royal Military College of Science and Army Staff College
Work history:
1978-2001: Army officer
2002-06: Head of operations, Financial Dynamics
2006-07: Contracts manager (services for ­asylum seekers), private property company
2008-present: Chambers director, Doughty Street Chambers