Managing partner, Foot Anstey, Plymouth
The enjoyment of a good argument made me pursue a legal career. I trained with Mills & Reeve who gave me a really great start – the standards were and remain very high there but they know how to enjoy themselves too.
Taking over as a managing partner in 2008 was the hardest challenge of my career. The economy was contracting sharply, but I had plenty of good advice and support from my board and we used the last five years to invest heavily for the future.
A good lawyer is a rounded individual – bright, with an attention to detail on the one hand, commercial in approach and a team player on the other. I usually come across managing partners who fall into two groups – dynamic business people or cautious guardians of conservative firms.
When I tell people I’m a lawyer they are usually very polite on the surface but, socially, my wife has normally warned them first. The hardest sort of client is one who understands price but not the value proposition.
I do not like any legislation that holds businesses back from being entrepreneurial, particularly that which risks making UK-based businesses uncompetitive globally.
Foot Anstey is a business first, so many changes coming through suit the entrepreneurial spirit of the firm. But I would like to see the bar raised for someone to become a solicitor. The specialisation which counts most for potential clients we target is sector specialisation. There is often an assumption that a firm will have the necessary specialist legal knowledge.
My hope for the legal profession in the future is clear blue water from new volume providers, and a vision and common sense of direction. Above all, the profession needs a vision of the people it wants to attract and retain, and the ability to implement a strategy to deliver that vision. Overall, there are probably too many lawyers, but there aren’t enough top-quality lawyers who will really take the profession forward. There are just too many who are average, good or competent, and not enough in the ‘exceptional’ category.
My staff and clients would probably say I’m focused on strategy, open, direct, with a strange sense of humour. And drink strong coffee.