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Can you give us a run down on your career to date?
I joined Bird & Bird as a trainee in 1992 and qualified into the Commercial Group, gaining skills in IT and telecoms contracts, outsourcing, and what was at the time the new field of internet law. Bird & Bird offered me partnership in 1999 and I continued to specialise in the technology arena, with a practice becoming increasingly international against a background of rapid growth and international expansion by the firm. After serving as head of department for Commercial for a while, I am now the managing partner of our UK office.
How have you seen Bird & Bird change during your time there?
The firm has grown from 30 or so partners in London with a small outpost in Brussels to around 280 partners in 28 offices worldwide. The firm still feels like a smaller and more accessible operation than its size would imply, but the biggest and most exciting change has been the opportunity to work with a very international set of colleagues supporting some of the world’s most innovating and rapidly-changing companies.
I hear you’re moving offices this summer, what’s the reason behind the move?
We have enjoyed many years of highly successful growth around the world and are very keen for this to continue, including in the UK – increasing client demand means that we’ll be growing our London operation significantly in the years to come so we need more space. The new building allows us to cater for this predicted growth while creating a more contemporary and welcoming business hub that better connects our clients, lawyers and business services staff.
What change do you think the new building will have on the firm?
We have designed the interior to do everything we can to facilitate and encourage an open, mobile, flexible working style with much more communication among individuals and between different parts of the firm. Our vision is that this will add up to create a vibrant atmosphere, with multi-disciplinary teams finding it much easier to gather and work together. We intend that clients will be able to tell the difference, and relish it.
Which areas of the business are you seeing the most rapid growth?
Our Aviation, Financial Services (especially FinTech) Life Sciences and Energy sectors are all rapidly expanding at the moment. In Asia generally, and China in particular, we are seeing a rapid increase in clients’ desire to use us to provide a huge variety of services. But one of the joys of Bird & Bird is the wide range of work and the broad international reach that we have. Growth comes in different phases all across our business, so next year will be very different!
Where do you think the firm will be in 10 years’ time?
We have ambitions to be the number one law firm in the world for organisations based on or being changed by technology and the digital world. We already have a very powerful and distinctive brand in the legal sector, and we see this only getting stronger. Everyone who joins us remarks very quickly on our very distinctive culture, so we are determined to hang on to that.
What’s different about Bird & Bird lawyers?
Our lawyers are more interested in the industry sectors in which our clients work and thus better equipped to solve problems in that context. We are future-thinking, international in outlook, naturally enthusiastic, low on ego, keen on collegiality with our colleagues and clients and most of all normal human beings who just happen to be very good at what they do.
Can you sum up Bird & Bird in one sentence?
Forward-looking and fun.