Name: Lindsey Keeble
Organisation: Watson Farley & Williams
Role: Managing partner
Trained at:Watson Farley & Williams
Year qualified: 2001
What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?
Gosh there are so many. It still seems like yesterday despite just realising that I have been at WFW for more years than I had been alive when I started!
I have some great memories from being a trainee, it is hard to pick but the following stand out: having my appendix removed in a Greek hospital (and having to ask the Norton Rose trainee who was also on secondment to their Piraeus office for help with basic things around the flat when I got home), experiencing the ‘Flying Pig – English pub’ in Piraeus, realising with embarrassment that when Martin Watson asked me to go to “the Bahamas next week” he meant the consulate in W1 not the Caribbean (luckily someone told me before I turned up with my passport and sun cream) and giving my flatmate food poisoning and having to step in and do her closing in a department I had never worked in. Luckily we were both at WFW!
What is the thing in your professional career that has terrified you or taken you out of your comfort zone the most?
I thankfully haven’t been terrified (so far) as my approach generally is that most things can be tackled with commitment and hard work, but I have certainly found myself out of my comfort zone at times. I felt this most acutely when, with an eight-week old baby, I was asked to take on the role of maritime sector head – I think I said yes due to sleep-depravation.
When I returned from maternity leave I found myself in charge of the largest sector in the firm, which in 2013/14 accounted for nearly a third of our global revenue, and over 30 partners, many of whom were some of the most highly respected people in their field. And whose trainee I had been to boot!
What is the wisest thing anyone ever said to you (and who said it)?
Mike Vernell, former head of our London asset finance team, said many wise things to me over the years. I particularly remember him saying, when I was considering moving to Paris, that it “would neither enhance nor detract from my career prospects”. I’m not sure if that qualifies as wise or cryptic (probably both!), but luckily I took it as a positive endorsement, moved across the channel and became a partner the following year.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?
Don’t make your plans too rigid as you might end up being disappointed. I certainly did not set out planning to be a ship finance lawyer (I am not sure I even knew they existed when I was at school) let alone managing partner of a law firm. Sometimes it is best to see what opportunities come your way and seize them when they feel right for you.
I believe the key to success is to always do a task to the best of your ability and to never be afraid of new challenges and ways of doing things. When you are a trainee working on bibles or disclosure, always remember that everything you do within your team is a core part of delivering the service to clients. I am also a strong advocate of embracing success as a team rather than at an individual level. Nothing can be achieved alone and you are only as good as the team around you.
What’s your best friend from law school doing now?
He is living his best life working as a funds partner at a law firm in the Cayman Islands!