Rob on being named one of the world’s 'Star Lawyers'
Rob, congratulations on being ranked one of the top five global “Star Lawyers” by legal industry research firm Acritas. How does it feel?
I am really pleased and proud. I work hard to make sure clients get the best service possible, and it’s really nice when they take the time to respond positively.
You were also named Partner of the Year at last year’s Manchester Legal Awards. What do these kinds of accolades mean to you?
I am from a pretty humble background, so I always try to keep my feet firmly planted on the ground. That said, these accolades are nice and remind me I have come a long way in a fantastic but tough profession.
The firm is due to move into new state of the art offices at No.1 Spinningfields this year. How is the build going?
Over the past few months we have watched the building taking shape and become part of the Manchester skyline. Last year, we appointed designers and we are working in close consultation with them to provide a flexible space that can evolve with the needs of our business. While we have a long history in Manchester, this will be our first purpose-built office here, which is very exciting. We are very much looking forward to developing our own space and seeing it come to life.
What prompted the decision to move?
We were coming to the end of our lease in Manchester and it was time to analyse our requirements. When we looked at No.1 Spinningfields, located in the heart of the business district, we felt that it provided us with a platform for the firm’s future in the city and first-rate facilities for our people and our clients here in Manchester.
What kind of working environment are you looking to create?
We are looking to create a flexible working environment that enables our teams to work more collaboratively in the heart of the business community, so very similar to what we created in Leeds when we moved to a purpose-built office at 6 Wellington Place last year.
Staff retention is often a challenge so how does the firm invest in its people?
For Squire Patton Boggs, people are the key ingredient to our firm’s success. I am fortunate to work with so many talented individuals who invest a lot of time and effort into making our firm such a great place to work. We place huge importance on what we give back to both individuals and the community around us.
As a firm, we support our people through their employee lifecycle whether that be through learning and development, career progression, well-being programmes or helping support charitable or community projects, to mention a few. Everyone has an important part to play and we aim to support and nurture this through the programmes we offer.
How is 2017 looking for the firm?
Very positive. Whilst some in the UK are concerned about political and economic changes, our view is that change creates opportunity. A point of differentiation for our firm is our public policy and international trade capabilities, and as the UK negotiates its exit from the EU and seeks to forge new trading relationships around the world, we see many opportunities for our firm. Similarly, we are well placed to support the efforts being made to rebalance the UK economy and rejuvenate our regional centres through initiatives such as the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine. While public policy and international trade are also at the fore of such initiatives, we have considerable experience in construction, infrastructure and transportation and anticipate the continued growth of these practices in the future.
Are there any exciting launches or new initiatives in the pipeline?
Although we have a well-established, market leading public policy team in Washington DC, we are now expanding our public policy team in Europe. We have made a number of appointments in Brussels over the past 12 months and are continuing to carve out a niche for this type of work, which few other law firms in Europe can offer.
Similarly, following our combination with automotive and industrial powerhouse Carroll, Burdick & McDonough last year, and the increasing volume of regulation and compliance requirements in the automotive sector, we are experiencing increasing demand for our services. Our strength in litigation and product risk management rooted in the automotive and transportation industries is presenting opportunities in key areas, such as the autonomous vehicles sector, and is a major focus for the firm.
On a more personal note, what are your own career goals?
I never look too far ahead but I still don’t think I have finished developing. I have developed my personal practice in recent years such that I am involved in some really fascinating investigations, and am regularly advising clients on global recall and other regulatory projects. I am also very committed to growing the Manchester office, and want to find top quality additive practices, that can grow further as we grow.
In five words, what makes Squire Patton Boggs stand out from other firms?
Entrepreneurial, Commercial, Connected, Committed and Meritocratic.