“Go outside for a walk” – my first secretary at CMS (Lyn Gofford). I was a trainee and she said it to me at a particularly fraught point in a deal where very little sleep had been had and someone had been (in my eyes) unnecessarily and unfairly rude to me. I was fuming, but going for a walk helped me reset, get some perspective and think of the proper way to move things forward.

My morning dog walk before work is probably my most important 30 minutes of the day: I get exercise, some thinking space, it helps me plan my day and get into the right mindset for the day ahead. Creating a little bit of space for yourself is really important – especially if you are working from home and your “office” is never more than seconds away.

Mark Oliver, Heathrow Airport

“In a leadership role 70 per cent of what you want is good enough.” Boyan Wells, ex head of our ICM department. He knew me too well! I know I am better, and we are better, when I am not wringing out the very last drop from myself and everyone around me. I can default to this if left to my own devices. I still have his advice taped to my laptop. Some days I forget to look at it.

Karen Seward, Allen & Overy

I remember being a first-seat trainee and working intensely on a multibillion-dollar litigation. My supervisor at the time, who is still a partner at the firm, said: “Kris, remember, pressure makes diamonds”. To this day, this still sticks in my mind and I think it bears a lot of truth.

Kristofer McGhee, Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education


A QC, who is now a judge, said to me after a tough loss: “Just remember, we lose bigger cases than this all the time”. I understood him to be saying: “learn from this set-back, but don’t allow it to assume a disproportionate scale. Take time to improve and don’t compound matters by making imprudent decisions while you are still upset”. I admire and am inspired by people who refuse to be diminished by failure and instead use the experience to improve.

Shane Gleghorn, Taylor Wessing

My father (when playing poker): “Look around the table at your opponents and work out their weaknesses. If you can’t work out after five minutes who the biggest mug is, it’s probably you”. To succeed and be happy in life, you need to constantly re-assess yourself, your goals and also be aware of those around you.

Nick Marsh, Quinn Emanuel


I still quote my English teacher from school, the late Brian Mitchell, in many work scenarios and particularly when I am helping explain things (e.g. to junior lawyers).  It was not him that said it first but “How do I know what I think ’til I see what I say?” is a useful thing to bear in mind when approaching a problem as a lawyer.  As soon as you start to write things down, you clarify in your mind the issue at hand.

Matt Newman, Starling Bank

Sri Lankan elder: ‘Don’t focus on making money, focus on making friends.’ I was told this just after I graduated from university and – while I tried to practice it nonetheless – I didn’t fully comprehend its value until I made partner.

Jifree Cader, Sidley Austin


A senior partner of Jones Day who has since retired said to me as a trainee that you should assume that every single email you write is going to be read by the last person in the world you would like to read it.  Given how much the world of email dominates all of our lives, I probably still think about this piece of advice at least once a week and often more. It is a good thing to remember on those fraught occasions when you might feel tempted to tell another lawyer what you really think.

More importantly though, it reflects a more basic principle I really believe in.  In everything you do and say at work, it is so important to think about the other person’s perspective and try to understand how they will interpret your message.  I genuinely think that reflecting on this makes you a better colleague and adviser to clients.

Anna Cartwright, Jones Day

The toughest times give rise to the most compelling opportunities.” This is one of the most memorable phrases said to me by an American called Barry Ridgeway – Barry works for Microsoft and coached me for about a year on general leadership and management.

The truth and helpfulness of this statement also can’t be overstated. It continues to provide me with inspiration on tough days, and it’s a mantra that me and my team relied on in the early days of the merger in lockdown.

Ed Whittington, Moore Barlow

I deliberated for a long time before taking my role as GC with Scania. I had not long qualified and I wanted to be sure I could support my technical legal development and be effective in my role. I sought the counsel of my former manager (and mentor), the GC at Games Workshop Plc, and he said to me:

“You could be the most experienced technical lawyer in the world, but if the business are not engaging with you, you are not reducing risk.”

I consider that sentiment every day in my role. Too many legal departments (including Scania’s in the past) were seen as business prevention and circumvented wherever possible. In building the legal function within Scania, my sole focus was to gain willing engagement from the business. My strategy was to make engagement with the legal team as easy as possible, and to be considered valued business partners. Thankfully with a lot of hard work, education and software development we have reached that coveted status!

Sarah Jane Holford, Scania

The first week of my training contract, we had a series of induction lectures. For five days solid, they covered all of the usual topics: introduction to the firm, how to behave, how to dress… We had one final lecture on the generic topic ‘How to do well at the firm’ and then it was the pub and the weekend. Expectations and concentration levels were low.

The partner came in, dispensed with the Powerpoint and just said one thing ‘Do good work, on time’. He promptly walked out.

The clarity and brevity of message resonated and the memory has always stuck with me.

Nik Slingsby, Twitch

If someone comes to your home to see what you have, they are not a friend. This was something my mum used to say to me when I was growing up. It has always helped me to accept people for what they are and always see the best in them. My mum was always full of wise comments and strength!

Kathleen Harris, Arnold & Porter

It might be dark now, but the sun will rise tomorrow” as said to me by Jasan Fitzpatrick, current MD of Principal Investing at Legal and General Capital and former general counsel of Northern Rock. He still has to remind me occasionally!

Sometimes the jobs we do as lawyers are deeply challenging but we persevere, and we find a way. Being seconded to Northern Rock after the bank collapse was the most pivotal moment in my career and one of the most cherished. Being part of a team that produced extraordinary legal support at a time of extreme crisis taught me more than any other experience in my career to date.  Being able to observe Jasan’s leadership in an environment of intense pressure and complexity was formative in developing my own management style.

Helen Milburn, Hyve Group

When I had just been taken on at 2tg and was feeling that I didn’t know how to do anything and was probably making terrible mistakes every day, I told a QC in chambers how worried I was.  He said, “Lucy, I feel exactly the same.  Every day I am waiting for the hand of doom to point at me and a voice to say, you’ve got away with it so far, but now you’ve been found out.” 

That QC is now Lord Justice Jeremy Stuart-Smith.  The message is, don’t have imposter syndrome – everyone is quaking in their boots behind their façade of cool control.

Lucy Garrett, Keating Chambers

After reviewing a client note I had drafted, the legendary Gordy Davidson of Fenwick & West said to me “It’s too long. If you can’t explain it very simply in one sentence, you don’t understand it well enough“. That feedback has had a major impact on the way I’ve approached providing legal advice ever since – short sentences/bullets in plain and simple English!

Spencer Collins, SB Management

A former tax partner I worked with in Australia.  When trying to make sense of the mountains of tax legislation and a complicated transaction, he helped me unravel it all by simply saying that one can always draw parallels with buying a bunch of oranges at a grocery store! Who knew that such a simple concept would stay with me throughout the years of complex structures?!

Phaik Khaw, iwoca

Two things stand out. First was a colleague who took me aside and said ‘don’t do the late nights and early starts for the sake of it. There will be times when you have to do them – save your energy for them and enjoy the times you don’t.’

Conversely, the other quote that has always stuck with me was from the golf pro Gary Player (although I’m not a massive golf fan). After winning a major he was accused of ‘getting lucky’. His response was ‘the harder I work, the luckier I get’. Words to live by.

Fred Banning, Pinsent Masons

The wisest thing anyone said to me was my pupil master, Nigel Lambert (now a QC). From the moment I met him, he was immensely encouraging and inspiring. As soon as I got rights of audience and could represent defendants in court myself, Nigel advised me to “lose the Doc Martens and black nail varnish”. It was his tactful way of telling me that having “an attitude” would not serve my clients well.

Sasha Wass QC, 6KBW College Hill

In the work environment, it doesn’t matter if you think you’re right even if you know you’re right, it matters what other people think you are – and it’s up to you to manage how you come across and how you are perceived.

This was advice given by the partner at Addleshaw Goddard who was head of the trainee programme.

Charlie Ryan, Royal Mail Group

My predecessor as managing partner at Brodies said never to try to do more than three things at once. He didn’t say if running a law firm counted as one!

But it is good advice – pick three things, do them properly, do three more. Repeat.

Nicholas Scott, Brodies

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