What made you want to be a solicitor and what type of legal work do you do?
I wanted to have a career in something that would challenge me – and I can happily say that being a solicitor has done that every day from the very first. Throughout my career I have focussed on dispute resolution and have dealt with all types of litigation representing clients’ interests both on paper and through advocacy in the courts. However, the core of my work for many years has been commercial litigation, principally contract disputes and intellectual property matters.
How long have you been at MWB and when did you become a Partner and Chairman?
I joined Wynne Baxter Godfree just over 33 years ago and became a Partner in 1993. I have been Chairman of Mayo Wynne Baxter since 2011.
What are the key changes that you have seen during your time at MWB?
I started pre-internet – yes there was such a time. We were also just heading into the era of widespread adoption of mobile phones. (I feel that I should add that we did have soundtracks on films by then!) The speed of, and accessibility to, communication has increased beyond what we might have imagined. Likewise, the way that lawyers communicate with clients has changed. A typical day in my first few years of practice would be likely to include a full afternoon of face-to-face appointments in my office followed by an hour or two of returning calls that had come in during that time. Now most of the contact is by telephone, email or video conference. However, crucially, the need for an understanding of people’s issues and then helping them with professional skill and integrity remains unchanged.
How is your role changing?
My primary focus becomes the business and interests of MWB and its stakeholders, though I will still carry out some legal work for a few clients.
I have always been immensely proud to be part of Mayo Wynne Baxter and see this role as having a responsibility to, at the very least, ensure that its reputation and success is maintained and preferably to keep it moving forward to increase both its standing and its performance.
What does being the Chief Exec mean to you?
A responsibility, a challenge, and an opportunity.
The responsibility to the firm, my partners who asked me to take on the role, to the staff who contribute so massively to its success and to the wider communities (which we see ourselves as being a part of and contributor to) will always be in my mind.
A very positive challenge. I believe MWB has an enviable reputation and is a great firm to be a part of. My role is to try to make it better still – and then push it on still further.
An opportunity to put into practice those things which I have learned along the way from so many people.
What challenges do you feel are facing the firm in the next few years?
In the short term the wider economic effects of the pandemic and of Brexit are almost “givens” in answer to this. But I also think that both will have longer lasting effects on how people live, work, and consume goods and services – including legal services.
The continued rise of artificial intelligence and the changes in the way of accessing and consuming those goods and services through technology mean that we will have to adjust how we provide our services. We will need to deliver them in the ways that people want to access them whilst still maintaining the standards of professionalism, service, quality, and integrity which are embedded in the firm’s DNA.
Alongside that, how our people operate and how they see their relationship with work is evolving too.
Both of these aspects need to be considered and factored into our forward thinking – ideally in harmony with one another.
Do you have any work interests/positions outside the firm?
I am lucky in that I have been able to carry out various roles outside of the firm. Until recently I chaired the Sussex branch of Institute of Directors and was fortunate enough to write a regular column for this esteemed publication. I was also a director of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative for several years. Currently I am Chair of Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership, a member of the Greater Brighton Economic Board, Vice-Chair of Sussex Chamber of Commerce, and a trustee of South Down National Park Trust.
When you are not running one of the region’s largest law firms, what do you do to relax?
I try to stay active, in order to counteract the effects of spending most of my day sitting down, drinking coffee and indulging my weakness for biscuits, and will play pretty much any sport given the chance. I ski (downhill or cross-country) whenever I can and would much rather be out in the snow than relaxing on a beach. Mostly though my regular relaxations are cycling and playing ice hockey.
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