The work-life quiz with Jonathan Stephens

What was your first-ever job?
Haymaking in the summer of 1976. Fortunately it was the year of the severe drought and the bales were really light.


Jonathan Stephens
Firm: Wilsons
Title: Managing partner
Lives: Dorset
Education: Sevenoaks School; London School of Economics; College of Law
Work history: 1980: Qualified as a solicitor; worked in the tax department of accountancy firm Malpas Simmons 1983: Joined Wilsons 1988: Partner, Wilsons 2006: Managing partner, Wilsons

What was your first-ever job?
Haymaking in the summer of 1976. Fortunately it was the year of the severe drought and the bales were really light.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?
I went with my principal to an old lady’s house to witness her will. She offered him a glass of champagne. She offered me some orange squash. I was 22.

Where’s the best place to go if you want to find out what’s really going on in the office?
I wish I knew. We have four buildings.

What time do you usually leave the office?

What do you do at weekends?
I’ve been lucky enough to have a farm for more than 20 years. I can usually be found messing about on a tractor or something.

What’s your favourite restaurant?
It’s a toss-up between the Indian restaurant in my village or the French restaurant in the next village. We’re surprisingly well served in my part of Dorset.

If you weren’t a lawyer what would you have been?
An accountant, I expect.

Who’s your hero and why?
My maintenance man Brian. He’s incredibly good at mending things such as solenoids and hydraulics, which are entirely beyond me. He also knows what to do when the tracks come off your digger.

What’s the best thing about your job?
The ability to be creative.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?
Trying to get the partners to go along with you when you have tried to be creative.

What’s your biggest work/career mistake?
Studying for the Chartered Institute of Taxation exams, but never taking them.

What car do you drive?
A BMW 7 Series, but I occasionally feel pangs of guilt about its carbon footprint.

What book are you currently reading?
Terry Pratchett’s latest, which I’ve saved up for my holiday.

What’s your favourite children’s book?
The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis.

What’s on your iPod at the moment?
I hate to think – my teenager’s borrowed it and hasn’t returned it.

What’s the most exciting deal/case you’ve worked on and why?
The one I’m doing now. It’s the biggest and the most complicated and I can delegate most of it to other people.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what two luxury items would you take?
My bed and a fridge with a neverending supply of ice-cold beer.

What is the worst partner conference location you’ve attended and why?
In Portugal, near Lisbon. The Portuguese gin gave me such a headache I thought I was going to die.

What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?
Two days.

If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you and why?
Tom Cruise – he’s small and perfectly formed. I took external advice on this one.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
My fellow partners. I see too much of them already.