Matthew Lewis, head of employment at Squire Sanders (Leeds)


What is your role at Squire Sanders?
I am head of a 14 strong employment team in our Leeds office, including three partners and three senior associates.

Why did you choose a career in law?
I did a law degree because I was told at school that everyone loves a lawyer! I then spent five years working in publishing as an editor and commissioning editor, definitely not wanting to be a lawyer. After getting married, I realised that publishing would not support a wife and children. I don't however regret my time spent in publishing and believe it's helped me in certain areas of my current role.

What's the best thing about your job?
Working with a great team of people - they make my life easy – and having a range of interesting clients whose businesses are constantly evolving and creating new opportunities.

What keeps you working at Squire Sanders?
The people - there are lots of other firms who do good work for a range of excellent clients but the grass is not greener.

What's the most interesting case you have dealt with?
Dealing with employment claims is always a world of wonderment. For example, trying to understand how an employee who had raised over 40 grievances in four years could say, after he was dismissed, that he enjoyed working with the client and was seeking re-engagement as a remedy in the Tribunal.

Where do you see your firm in five to ten years?
Having recently undergone a global combination we now have 36 offices in 17 countries. Over the next 10 years, I expect us to be in more than 20 countries and continuing to look for new opportunities.

What would you have been if you weren't a lawyer?
A frustrated author or a journalist but not one that knows how to hack a mobile phone.

What would you advise lawyers beginning their legal career today?
Do a degree you enjoy. It may be a law degree but I doubt it. Your working life is long enough and it isn't a race. A different degree may mean you qualify a year later, but you may be a more rounded person with a different approach.

What do you think are the biggest challenges/ opportunities for 2012?
2012 will continue to be a struggle with pressure on employers to keep costs under control and employees engaged. This means that employers will need to focus more on getting the most out of their employees by managing performance and there are opportunities for us to work in partnership with our clients.