Partner | Jersey
What do you tell people when they ask you what you do?
I say I'm a lawyer. My days of claiming to be a matador are long gone.
Why did you choose this profession?
One morning when I was 14 I was arguing about something with my mum. She said that I ought to become a barrister as people would pay me to be argumentative and I wouldn't feel the need to argue with her. I thought it was the first good point she had made all morning.
What’s the strangest or most exciting thing you’ve ever done as a lawyer?
Acting (in BVI) for an Irish bank, persons unknown had used a BVI company to defraud the bank of the ownership of a Ukrainian shopping centre. We got a Norwich Pharmacal order forcing the BVI company's registered agents to disclose the identity of the BVI company's UBO. Tearing open the disclosure envelope in the registered agents' car park, we discovered that the culprit was Aleksandr Orlov. The name was familiar, but why? We raced back to the office to google it, only to discover the horrifying truth: our client had been swindled by the meerkat from Comparethemeerkat.com. (When we informed our Ukrainian counterpart, it took a while to explain who the meerkat was before he calmly reassured us that it was just a coincidence, this meerkat was not behind the fraud).
Arresting an oil tanker in the port of New Orleans was also quite exciting.
If you could start all over again, what if anything would you do differently?
I can't think of anything. Spending 6 years at the English bar and 3 ½ years in BVI before moving to Jersey does mean your career slips a few rungs back down the ladder every time you move; but I wouldn't trade the experiences I've had.
What is the most challenging/most rewarding aspect of working on dispute resolution cases?
For me the most challenging aspect is trying to come up with a strategy which achieves a result for the client at a cost and within a timeframe they can afford. Getting a result within a year or so is frustratingly rare, although I managed it in 2019-2020 on 2 or 3 cases where for once I was acting for Davids against Goliaths – those cases genuinely changed my clients' lives, which felt massively rewarding.
If you had a money tree and could afford to never work again, would you and why?
Yes – otherwise I'd get bored – but I wouldn't be a lawyer. I don't know what I'd do. It's a bit late to become a matador. I have a bad knee.
What does the perfect weekend look like?
Rafting the orange river (the stretch which forms the border between South Africa and Namibia) with my kids would be up there. That would be a long weekend. In a perfect world my wife would feel adventurous enough to come too.
Which famous person would you most like to invite to a dinner party?
Jeremy Corbyn, so I can prove to my wife once and for all that I look nothing like a young Jeremy Corbyn.
Now the world is beginning to open up again, what are you most looking forward to doing?
Many things, but most of all being able to take my kids on holiday somewhere other than Scotland (not that Scotland isn't the best country in the world).
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring lawyers, what would it be?
The best advice I've ever been given was to make a point of taking responsibility when you've got something wrong. It always draws the sting – there no surer way to lose the respect of others (judges included) than trying to escape blame you should be owning.
This interview was first published in ThoughtLeaders4 Disputes Magazine - Issue 3.