The work-life quiz simon ricketts

What was your first-ever job?
Door-to-door salesman selling loft insulation.

What was your first-ever job?

Door-to-door salesman selling loft insulation.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?
As a pupil barrister, getting on the wrong train for a planning inquiry and failing to get back in time by other means. It was pre-mobile phones, so there they were all waiting.

Where is the best place to go if you want to find out what’s really going on in the office?
There are pretty good views from the glass lifts.

What time do you usually leave the office?
Not late, but more often than not it’s to go to a function.

What do you do at weekends?
Family, friends, music, mass catering.

What’s your favourite restaurant?
Do readers really want to hear about our staff canteen again? Various pubs in the Chilterns.

If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you have been?
Journalism or the music or advertising industries.

Who’s your hero and why?
Lesley MacDonagh, former head of planning at Lovells. She had an intuitive sense of what was best for the client and project.

What’s the best thing about your job?
Working side-by-side with non-lawyers in achieving developments in a system where the odds are stacked in favour of the status quo.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?
Bad legislation, transactions where I spend more time chasing than negotiating; turning away interesting work through conflicts of interest.

What’s your biggest work/career mistake and what did you learn from it?
Various stories from the 1980s: the client who went missing after a long celebratory lunch; the partner I mistook to be a new trainee at an induction event. I learnt the boundary between confidence and overconfidence.

What car do you drive?
Ford Ka to the station, XC90 for weekend child freight.

What book are you currently reading?
Vikram Seth’s Two Lives.

What’s on your CD player at the moment?
Flaming Lips’ At War with the Mystics, Echo and the Bunnymen’s Siberia and Johnny Cash.

What’s your favourite children’s book?

Anything by Jacqueline Wilson for my nine-year-old daughter or Steve Cole’s Astrosaurs series my six-year-old son.

What’s the most exciting deal/case you’ve worked on and why?
For litigation adrenaline, cases such as acting for Bishopsgate Goodsyard businesses against London Underground. For the possibility of leaving something of lasting value, the negotiations that led to the retention of the London Eye or consents for big regeneration schemes such as Quintain’s Wembley project.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what two luxury items would you take?
A Telecaster and a tractor mower.

If a movie was being made about your life, which an actor would play you?
It would be a Pixar animation with a Hugh Grant voiceover.

Firm: SJ Berwin
Position: Head of planning and environment
Lives: Hertfordshire
Educated: King Edward VI School, Southampton, and Queen Mary College, University of London (1981-84).

Work history:
1985: Called to the bar
1987: Joined Oppenheimers
1989: Joined Lovells
1991: Admitted as a solicitor
1997: Joined SJ Berwin
1999: Elected to partnership
2005: Elected head of planning and environment