Work Life Quiz: Michael O’Kane, Peters & Peters

What time do you usually leave the office? Between 7pm and 8pm, but phone calls and emails can go on late into the night with US clients.

What was your first-ever job? 

Hospital porter, sometimes transporting bodies to the morgue. Working with lifeless souls was excellent training for attending drinks parties at certain accounting firms.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?

Taking my chambers to Bar Council arbitration for ­trying to diddle me out of my pupillage award. It was worth it when I won.

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

Our reception team.

What do you do at weekends?

I sometimes take the train to Wednesbury in the West Midlands and behave unreasonably.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Oceannaire in Washington DC – the chocolate cake is the size of Cuba

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

Working in Ireland’s kitchen and tile market – my dad wanted me to take over the family business.

What’s your favourite film?

Tough call between The Shawshank Redemption and Dangerous Liaisons.

What was the first record you ever bought?

Slide It In by Whitesnake. For years I thought it was about the late submission of a skeleton argument.

Who’s your hero and why?

Christopher Hitchens for his way with words and love of decent Scotch.

What’s the best thing about your job?

First, the team at work. ­Second, the sofa in my office, where I have my most inspired thoughts.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?

Balancing my ‘open door’ policy with trying to keep people from waking me

up on the sofa.

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

I underestimated the Establishment. Never again.

What car do you drive?

My wife drives, I pray.

What book are you currently reading?

Avoid Boring People by James Watson. An excellent maxim for life.

What’s your favourite children’s book?

Noddy Creates the Economic Crime Agency. (Sadly not a work of fiction.)

What’s the most exciting deal/case you’ve worked on and why?

A cargo cartel case in which we negotiated immunity for a client against 10 US Department of Justice lawyers and two FBI agents. The agents had guns, we had Post-it notes. Never underestimate the power of the Post-it note.

If you were stranded on a desert island what two luxury items would you take?

A rescue note and a very fit homing pigeon.

What’s the worst partner conference location you’ve attended and why?

We do dinners, not partner conferences. That way we don’t risk bumping into each other in our pyjamas.

What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?

Friday night to Sunday afternoon, although sometimes I feel as though I haven’t slept since 1971.

 If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you?

Gabriel Byrne, although his faux Irish accent is more convincing than mine.

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

Ann Widdecombe. If she wasn’t trying to dance, she’d be wittering on about Catholicism.

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

I answered most of these questions honestly; my therapist helped me with the rest; I nearly became a priest.




Name: Michael O’Kane

Firm: Peters & Peters

Title: Head of business crime

Lives: Hammersmith


1987-91: LLB (Hons), Manchester Metropolitan University

1991-92: BVC, Inns of Court School of Law

Work history:

1992-93: Pupillage, 6 Gray’s Inn Square

1994-99: Prosecutor, CPS, Greenwich and ­Woolwich

1999-2002: Senior Crown prosecutor, CPS

2002-04: Senior associate, Peters & Peters

2004-09: Partner, Peters & Peters

2009-present: Head of ­criminal fraud, Peters & Peters