Work Life Quiz: Mark Abell, Field Fisher Waterhouse

If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you have been? A rock god.

Mark Abell
Mark Abell

What was your first-ever job?

Gutting chickens at John Rannoch’s in Stowmarket.

What was your worst ­experience as a trainee?

Smashing the managing partner’s prized cricket bat – reputedly used by a ­former international – into tiny pieces whilst batting for the firm’s first (and only) XI.

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

The coffee machine.

What time do you usually leave the office?

8pm or thereabouts.

What do you do at weekends?

Run the ‘family taxi ­service’, taking my two children from one pressing social engagement to another.

What’s your favourite ­restaurant?

Oyaji Ramen on the Juroku Go Sen in Sagamihara, Japan.

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

A rock god.

What’s your favourite film?

Jane Campion’s The Piano.

What was the first record you ever bought?

The first album was Aqualung by Jethro Tull and the first single was American Pie by Don McLean.

Who’s your hero and why?

My dad because he’s ­everything that I’d like to be.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The people I work with. As Tina Turner would say, they’re simply the best. There’s always a great vibe in the office.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?

A grinding international travel schedule, which means that I’m away from my family far more than I’d like.

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

Putting off a tough ­decision about an underperforming partner. I learned that putting off such decisions only makes it harder in the end.

What car do you drive?

BMW 330ci.

What book are you currently reading?

Between the Assassinations by Aravind Adiga.

What’s your favourite ­children’s book?

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis.

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

In terms of sheer duration, complexity, novelty and glamour it has to be the development of the Petronas superbike and the creation of the Petronas’ FIM World Superbike Championship team. ­Intellectually and ­logistically extremely ­challenging, it was every ex-biker’s dream deal.

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

A BlackBerry and a good library of books.

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

Sixty hours.

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

My wife, daughter and son tell me it should be Ben Stiller, because like me, he makes them laugh.

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

Terry Smith. When I was 16 I worked Saturdays on a lorry that delivered bottles of Corona carbonated drinks to houses – rather like a milk-round, but with a much larger lorry. Terry was the driver. He had BO that could wilt an oak tree at 50 paces. January was a particularly cold month in 1973 and the choice between the cold snowy streets of East Anglia and the warm but BO-filled cab of the lorry was one of the most difficult I’ve ever faced.

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

Prince Philip once asked me if the sun made my nose peel. I once had to deliver a high-level government ­lecture whilst suffering acute diarrhoea. I sat next to David Beckham on a flight from London to Los Angeles and taught him that the words ‘bill’ and ‘check’ have different meanings in the US.


Name: Mark Abell

Title: Partner, head of IP and technology ­department

Firm: Field Fisher Waterhouse

Lives: Hertfordshire


1975-78: LLB, University of Southampton

1981-82: College of Law, Guildford


Work history:

1982-84: Trainee, Collins & Co

1984-85: Litigation associate, Reid Minty

1985-89: Commercial assistant, Field Fisher Waterhouse

1989-present: Partner, Field Fisher Waterhouse