Work Life Quiz: Richard Eaton, Bird & Bird

What was your first-ever job?

A Saturday job stacking wine shelves in Waitrose.

What was your worst ­experience as a trainee?

Late one night at Slaughter and May’s offices, I was absolutely starving, so I devoured a plate of sarnies in one of the breakout rooms, only to find out they were being saved for a late-night feast by the ­partner I was working for. I never told her it was me. I think she guessed, though.

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

The White Swan, Friday night, around the third or fourth pint.

What time do you usually leave the office?

When I’m done for the day. I see no point in sitting in the office if I’m not busy, as there’ll be many evenings when plans are cancelled due to work.

What do you do at weekends?

Worship at the Emirates. Well, worship might be the wrong word now, but there is a lot of praying going on.

What’s your favourite ­restaurant?

My casual favourite is Spuntino in Soho, while Texture in Marylebone is a fine-dining favourite.

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


What’s your favourite film?

The Castle. Every lawyer should watch it 

What was the first record you ever bought?

Status Quo, Rocking All Over the World. I was young, for goodness’ sake.

Who’s your hero and why?

Dennis Bergkamp, for the goal against Newcastle, the third in his hat-trick against Leicester, or the one for Holland against Argentina. Take your pick.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I’ve done a lot of things that I would otherwise have been unable to do, been to places I wouldn’t otherwise have been to and met some fun people.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?

The next transaction.

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

Moving to a firm to work with people I thought wanted to work with me. You may hear about the ‘glue’ that holds firms together – there’s no such thing. When partners think there’s a problem, they think only of ­themselves. It’s human nature.

What car do you drive?

I own two cars, but as I live in Central London, neither has been out for months and the batteries are dead.

What book are you reading?

1Q84 by Haruki ­Murakami.

What’s your favourite ­children’s book?

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss.

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

I’m a corporate lawyer; ‘exciting’ doesn’t really come into it.

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

A cigar and a fishing rod.

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

I’ve been lucky; working with so many US firms,, the partner conferences have all been in great ­locations. My very first day as a partner I found myself flying to Hawaii for the Brobeck partner ­conference. No wonder the firm didn’t survive.

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

I did a 400-hour month once – nearly killed me.

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

John Goodman; we share a physical resemblance and a sense of humour.

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

Scarlett Johansson. I’m a happily married man and given her lift proclivities, that wouldn’t be fair on her.

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

I was stopped by police for driving the wrong way down a one-way street on the pavement trying to run down my law tutor; I was stopped by police for doing 120mph on the motorway; I was stopped by police for reversing on the motorway as I’d missed my turnoff. 


Name: Richard Eaton

Firm: Bird & Bird

Title: Partner

Lives: Marylebone, London


1982-85: BA, City Poly

1986-87: College Of Law, Guildford

Work history:

1988-90: Articled clerk,

Allen & Overy (A&O)

1990-97: Corporate associate, A&O

1997-98: Corporate associate, Masons (now ­Pinsent Masons)

1998-99: Corporate associate, Watson Farley

1999-2007: Partner, Brobeck Hale and Dorr (now WilmerHale)

2007-08: Partner, Heller Ehrman 

2008-09: Partner, Orrick

2009-present: Partner, Bird & Bird