What made you get into clerking?
After the reality kicked in that my dream of becoming an internationally recognised footballer was never going to happen, I had to start thinking about my career. I was always interested in law but equally I was hooked on working and earning money. That mentality was instilled in me by having three jobs from the age of 12!
A close family friend was a senior clerk at a large common law set, so I had some inside knowledge of what a barristers’ clerk was. Knowing that it was a career opportunity with the prominence of working with barristers in London excited me!
I arranged a summer work experience and it was safe to say, I never looked back. My first clerking position was at 2 Temple Gardens. Working in law, getting out in the big wide world and earning a living ticked all the boxes. At the time, fresh out of school, I felt like I had hit the jackpot!
You spent an illustrious 15 years in barristers’ chambers and were seen by many others and us as one of the leading ‘business generating’ clerks at the Bar. How did you see the nature of your role evolve over the years?
Recent years has seen greater market competition, ever-changing technology, less barriers and increased client expectation. This has heavily dictated changes in the industry.
There is more ambition at the Bar, generally – especially amongst the junior end and they too are arguably the driving force. This has generated a more collegial relationship between clerk/barrister (and chambers).
I am captivated by business and everything about it. To me, each barrister was treated like an individual business and I was their partner, fully invested in working with them to develop and maintain their business.
This mind-set has driven me to always succeed and deliver. I am addicted to spotting gaps, exploring new ideas or opportunities, putting together a strategic plan and implementing it. There was nothing more rewarding when you have a satisfied client, receive interest in what you are doing and see your methodology come to fruition.
So much more attention is spent on the client and their needs – what can we do for you, where can we add value and how am I going to break away from the competition. The same applies to me personally; I have always done something different and gone beyond the basics of what a clerk has been historically known for!
You were instrumental and invariably the architect in developing new areas of work for your chambers. What were the common themes other aspirational clerks could learn from?
My focus was always on what the client wants, market needs and where I will fit in.
To start with, I always spent time to understand what chambers is, who the members are including their strengths, weaknesses, skillsets and expertise.
Be a people person, get out there, build a network and regularly sit down or communicate with your existing (and chambers) client base. It is always good to catch up. I always held review meetings and set a personal agenda, asking for feedback, information and their opinions on the market generally.
I allotted “read and research” time in my diary. This isn’t for everyone, but it is what can set you apart. That time consists of market research and digesting industry published articles or newsletters. Not only are you up to speed with what is hot and what is not but you find some useful information that will assist you.
Listen, collate and analyse all information!
Those that set themselves apart have a natural instinct of how and where to take the information they’ve gathered. My entrepreneurial mind-set often sees me generate interests, leads, reputation and a financial return in various areas of expertise.
This process is constant, and to be successful in developing new areas you must understand your arena, know your angle and have a strategy. Always set realistic and measurable targets.
The International Arbitration Centre opened this year in London and you are about to launch Int-Arb Arbitrators which is a model created to suit an independent arbitrator. As Managing Director, how has your experience at the independent Bar shaped you for such an exciting challenge?
My experience at the Bar has been invaluable. A fun journey to say the least and I have achieved a great deal through huge dedication, strong work ethic, blood, sweat and tears – literally!
My previous role was senior clerk. I was (I believe) the youngest of my generation to reach that position. I worked incredibly hard to get to that position, carving my own direction. I am not one to shy away from a challenge or simply sit in the crowd. My mind-set and approach combined with the skills that I have learnt throughout my career are transferrable which has prepared me for such a move.
Investing in my own self-development has been key, always wanting to improve and strive to be the best.
Being at various sets of chambers with different areas of law, I have always adapted and applied my proven methodology. This does not come natural to everyone but you must take an interest in what you are doing and work at it.
Never underestimate a barristers’ clerk; a modern business leader in the legal industry. The key instrumental roles and skillsets has enabled me to be an integral part of running £multi-million businesses. In addition, there was a huge emphasis on marketing, business development, planning, strategising, negotiating deals, as well as providing support and guidance to individuals. These are just to name a few.
I am fully prepared for my new role due those opportunities I had at the Bar!
You are one of a few senior level clerks who have successfully gone on to further a career outside of the Bar – what advice would you give to others faced with such an opportunity?
You need to be confident in your own abilities, look at your track record in business and then take a leap of faith.
Ask yourself – what value do you add and what can you bring to the table. If you know in your own mind what you will do and how you will do it, then I think you know the answer.
What is Int-Arb Arbitrators what does the next year look like for you?
The year ahead is very exciting – Int-Arb Arbitrators is about to launch!
We have identified a need in the arbitral market, by creating a framework for arbitrators to operate freely and independently.
Members of Int-Arb Arbitrators will be supported by a team that has over 37 years of working with and managing barristers and arbitrators. Each will receive strategic business management and administrative services, ranging from diary and availability management, accepting appointments on their behalf and billing, down to marketing and business development.
Conflict is at the forefront of arbitration. Our offering benefits those who want to have a sole focus of sitting only as an arbitrator. Independence is key, and will also suit those that want to break away from their law firm, door or associate tenancy at chambers – or arbitrators that have no association and need support to accelerate their arbitral practice.
The aim is to grow our members list whilst at the same time, expanding, building a solid reputation and an internationally known brand.
Members will be announced soon – watch this space!
When considering a chambers move with my team, I met with all the major players in the industry. Guy and Tony were our clear preferred choice.
They were authentic in their approach, challenged us when they felt it necessary and ultimately delivered a seamless service. Most importantly they showed complete discretion, which was for us the most important criteria.
Their reputation for being leaders in their field is well deserved and I would not hesitate to recommend them to others.