Managing Director. Co-Owner and Co-Founder of Clerksroom & Clerksroom Direct.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be in the legal business?
I left school at 16, was asked if I wanted to work in the Temple in London and I said no because I was not really into religion. Then I found out it’s where lawyers worked so went for an interview at 2 Crown Office Row. I did not do well at school, I wanted to just leave and earn some money.
What do you do for a living right now?
34 years on, I am now managing director of Clerksroom, a Barristers chambers and mediation provider.
What has been your greatest triumph and your greatest success in the legal services field and what did you learn from each?
Greatest triumph was becoming a senior clerk aged 21, the youngest senior clerk ever I was told at the time. My greatest success looks set to be our public access portal at ClerksroomDirect.com where members of the public can now access a Barrister directly and make substantial savings.
Do you think the legal industry is headed in the right direction, the wrong direction – or which direction?
The legal profession is headed in the right direction in my view as technology is being used to streamline services and provide greater access to justice.
Who – or what – inspires you – and why?
I am inspired by many ex-senior clerks who have achieved so much over the years. There are many role models. As a clerk, you always help people, whenever asked. Our Barristers, staff, families, clients and other clerks in need. It’s what you do.
What advice would you give to the younger generation contemplating law as a career?
Gain a greater understanding of technology and ask as many questions as you can. Never accept an answer if you don’t understand it. Read, explore and learn all the time.
How ready for change do you think the legal industry is?
The law is not seen to many as a business. It is seen as a vocation. The legal industry is in need of change because the people who use our services are demanding change. So it will change, it has to.
Is more – or different – leadership required? In what ways?
Very different leadership is needed going forward. Leadership with finance, leadership with HR skills to manage teams and project management skills to make new projects and client integration projects work. These are not the normal skills of a lawyer so outside management is needed in most cases.
How deep do you think will be the inroads of technology in the industry?
Technology will take over law in my view. Digitisation of law is already happening. Law as the commodity will be very different but the easy wins are exploring ways clients can access and apply it.
In ten years, do you see an industry much as it is – or do you see new players, new technology and an altered state?
The 10 largest firms in the UK in 10 years time are not planned yet, is my prediction.
Are consultants and lawyers looking increasingly similar? Should the distinction continue?
I think it’s difficult to generalize on this point. Law is a very diverse commodity and technology will allow that path to grow even more diverse over the next 3-5 years.
What are your thoughts on the increasing availability of data to guide client-side procurement of legal services?
If it gives clients wider choice, more clarity and greater access to justice, then it can only be a good thing.
Lawyers have typically regulated to keep non-lawyer investors out but that’s a two-edged sword these days. What are your thoughts?
I think pandoras box is open, I think we have already moved on.
What’s the one most significant factor that will drive change in your view?
Availability and ease of use of technology. Anyone can come and play.
Are we seeing the demise of the “profession” and the real emergence of the “business” of law?
If we get it right, and lawyers usually do, then the profession and the business can work together. Lawyers have always re-invented themselves when pushed.
What do you consider is the greatest challenge facing the industry?
The greatest challenge facing our industry is the way we currently make decisions. It is historical and set up for good reason many many years ago. Modern firms need to be agile.
What do you see as the greatest opportunity for the sector looking forward?
Wider access to justice for lay clients and choice. Most people if asked say they would like to get legal advice but it’s not seen as accessible and it is seen as confusing. Clearer choice, clearer pricing and better information for clients.
Do you think law can improve its track record on diversity and inclusion? How?
I think it is already happening at student level and will come through the system. The way legal education (pupillage funding) and the major issue of number of trainees leaving education with no places available needs a major re-think in my opinion. More training places need to be offered and it needs to be funded by the establishment in my view. Inns of court should offer student loan style funding so more people can get funding and into chambers.
Will the current regulatory framework around law help or hinder it in the future?
As the understanding of regulator choice becomes more easily understood and the choices become clearer, entities will be able to pick and choose their regulator which is already creating innovation. See Barrister Direct, a law firm set up and run by 2 Barristers.
Who do you think are the greatest influencers on the industry these days?
Outside innovation from tech companies pushing at the legal door and asking why things are done that way.
If you had to do it all over again, would you? Or what would you do differently?
Yes I would do the same again but what I would do differently would be to design and build my own bespoke software and not rely on 3rd parties as they don’t allow us to be creative.
If a law firm was a startup pitching for investors, would you be an investor?
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
Advising companies how to streamline processes and become more efficient.
What would you like to be known for?
Breaking the way the chambers model works.
What would surprise everyone if they knew (they may now).
I run marathons for fun. 15 completed now.
What’s your favorite hobby or activity outside of law?
What’s your favorite sports team?
What’s your favorite city?
What’s your favorite food?
What’s your nickname – and why?
Not aware I have one!