Alison Loveday – Chief Executive at berg – discusses why it’s so important to support young lawyers
Alison, you started your career at berg, so what made you stay?
I always liked the fact that from day one, even as a trainee, my views were sought and I was “given a voice”. I would like to think that this remains the approach adopted by the firm.
You became Chief Executive in 2016 after being Managing Partner for nine years, what prompted that switch?
I took up the role of Chief Executive in line with our strategy to adopt a more corporate structure, despite technically being a traditional partnership. This has included building up our senior management team to include other professionals outside of the law, improving our use of data to drive decisions and activities and being marketing led. We wanted to make these changes to ensure that we continued to be innovative in our approach and deliver a truly client focussed service.
What does the remit of Chief Executive involve on a day to day basis?
It is a wide and varied role where it’s fair to say no two days are really ever the same. Engaging with our key clients and referrers is a significant part of the role, as is working with all of our senior management team. Our strategic plan is based on driving forward our people, operational and revenue plans. These are ambitious and require input on an ongoing basis. I also play a role in raising the profile of the firm through our marketing and BD activities. Given our work in the financial and regulatory space, this has also included engagement with organisations such as the All Party Parliamentary Group for Fair Business Banking and the Treasury Select Committee, seeking to highlight the obstacles businesses and individuals encounter in seeking access to justice.
What do you most enjoy about your role in the firm?
My drivers are people and business. 27 years after starting my career with berg as a trainee, I am still incredibly passionate about seeing other people take that journey. Watching the progression of new recruits from work experience students to fully qualified lawyers at the top of their game, is something which gives me great pride. It is a continuous motivator to see others building their career with a firm they are passionate about.
In my role, I interact with a huge array of individuals and businesses, all with a different story to tell. That’s what keeps it fresh and enjoyable.
How would people describe your leadership style?
I would hope people would say that I am open and collaborative. I am fortunate to have a highly skilled expert team of lawyers and other professionals who provide me with the relevant rationale, facts, figures and experience to make decisions on behalf of the organisation. It is important, however, that the berg team is very much part of that process
Who or what have been the biggest drivers in your career?
Being brought up in a family of entrepreneurs gave me a passion for business and I have been incredibly fortunate to find a role which allows me to be a business owner in my own right. Working alongside berg Senior Partner and Founder Reuben berg I have been able to build my career across a range of legal specialisms including employment, commercial litigation and financial and regulatory disputes. I like to make a difference and our work in the financial and regulatory arena has really enabled us to do this. We have secured millions of pounds in compensation for our clients and also lobbied for change from the regulator and in the dispute resolution process.
You specialise in banking, financial and regulatory disputes which have seen seismic shifts over the last few years, so how has your work evolved?
berg’s work in this area originally started with representing clients who had been mis-sold interest rate hedging products. It became clear from this work that businesses had also been manipulated in an array of other areas – including loans, investments, property and personal guarantees. We sought to bring attention to such bad behaviour by bringing our evidence to the attention of the media, MPs and also bodies such as the TSC, the Federation of Small Businesses and the FCA. We continue to represent clients with a range of banking and financial disputes (including those with claims arising from their treatment by RBSs GRG division, the business support units of other banks, and the HBOS fraud) and to campaign for fairer regulation of banking practice in general, and greater access to justice for business owners. We also assist our clients seeking to refinance, and are building our expertise in relation to alternative finance options, and Fintech.
You’re passionate about supporting young lawyers, so what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To listen. It’s often not what people tell you that is important, but what they don’t tell you. Also, clients have a tendency to tell you enough to get the answer they want. You can’t stop there and after listening, it’s time to start asking those probing questions.
What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
Finally, how do you like to switch off?
A good walk in the countryside (Lyme Park is a particular favourite) with my family and our two dogs is a good option. I live in Heaton Moor and it has a fantastic independent cinema. So to truly switch off, a trip to the cinema and a visit to the tapas bar next door is perfect.