Tim studied Classics at Durham University. He started his training contract in 2010 and qualified into our Financial Regulation team in 2012. He was promoted to senior counsel in 2021.
ROUTE TO LAW
I’ve always said I’m a poster boy for how not to go about getting a career in commercial law. I didn’t think about my future career in a particularly active way when at university. Not being a law student, it didn’t occur to me to apply for work experience, open days, internships etc, so I left university with a single internship under my belt and little idea of what I would end up doing. I took a year out to go on an adventure (I sailed across the Atlantic with a friend) and returned home to concentrate on getting a job. It was during this period that I started having conversations with friends who had secured training contracts already.
The way they described the role of a solicitor – the need for analytical thought, creative thinking, attention to detail and strong communication skills – really seemed to fit what I thought of as my skillset and the more research I did, the more I determined that I wanted to be lawyer.
This was easier said than done, however. I knew I couldn’t afford the cost of two years at law school before even beginning to earn money, unless I secured a training contract in advance and the law school funding that came with it. So my plan became to secure a training contract and be a lawyer, or don’t and be something else!
CHOOSING MY PATH
I started at the firm in September 2012, with my first seat in Financial Regulation, where I would ultimately qualify. I experienced a lot of different practice areas during my training contract, taking in Pensions, Tax and one of the Corporate groups, before going on secondment to our Norwegian relationship firm BAHR in my final seat. I had an absolute ball living in Oslo, probably helped by the fact it was over the lovely light summer months.
The decision to qualify into the Financial Regulation group was not a particularly difficult one when it came. The people in the group were all lovely and very bright, the work was interesting and, with a smidge of foresight, I predicted that there was only going to be more regulation through the 2010s and beyond – how right I was!
My work over the last decade and a bit has been very varied; even though the group is a specialist one, we still abide by the firm’s multi-specialist approach, which means that you get a varied diet of whatever comes in on a particular day. This means that I advise a wide range of financial and non-financial entities on what they can and cannot do and how they might structure transactions or products around those requirements. It’s not unusual for me to work for banks, FinTechs, insurers and asset managers all in the same day. I could also advise a wind farm operator or even a dairy collective.
What I love about the job is not just its variety, but also in a lot of cases the intellectual challenge that comes from the novelty of it. There is always new law and regulation coming out, which means that we’re regularly asked questions which no one has ever had to think about before. Blank page thinking is often required, which means that we get to think creatively, but also with strong knowledge and understanding of the wider legal and commercial context. For example, I spent about four years working with Barclays on their response to the bank ring-fencing regime. This effectively required the biggest banks in the UK to split their retail operations from their investment bank operations, but to do so as the rules were still being developed and in a world where there was no precedent for how it might be done. As you can imagine, this required a deep knowledge of the way the business worked, but also some ingenuity to consider how it could have operated in the future.
GETTING THE BALANCE
By its nature the job sometimes requires long hours and late nights (it tends to be late nights rather than early mornings due to ‘end of day’ deadlines). During busy periods it’s not unusual to work up to or past midnight for a period of time, particularly when working to a looming deadline. While the hours can be long, there are less busy periods as well, and the satisfaction of doing a good job, often that no one else could have done (otherwise why would they be asking us), really is a great reward.
PROMOTION TO SENIOR COUNSEL
Since my promotion to senior counsel, I’ve had considerably more control over my work and time, delegating work to and managing my own teams and jobs. This poses new challenges in helping junior lawyers develop and grow their abilities and careers but is really rewarding as well, when you see junior associates grow in confidence and start operating independently.