Posted in Interviews on 10 Jan 2019
Tell us a bit about yourself
I have been a lawyer for far too long! I trained at Berwin Leighton (as was), qualified in 1994, started as a commercial litigator then turned myself into an IP lawyer. When the internet came along, I started to advise a lot of technology companies. In 2003, I became Google’s first lawyer outside California and by the time I left I was in charge of their legal team across EMEA, Associate General Counsel and a member of the EMEA Executive Management Group. I left to do my own thing, co-founded an alliance of lawyers called The Legal Pod and later co-founded The Privacy Compliance Hub.
Why did you choose to pursue a career in the legal sector?
I wanted to earn a living. I was the first person in my family to go to university so I felt pressure to do something vocational. I was always good at constructing an argument, I was pretty lousy at maths, so I decided to be a lawyer.
Tell us about your role
At The Legal Pod I work with other senior lawyers to provide senior in house counsel style advice, primarily to technology companies. The Privacy Compliance Hub is a little different. The Privacy Compliance Hub is a product which I developed together with my old Google colleague and Legal Pod co-founder, Karima Noren. It is a platform which enables organisations to build and maintain a continuous culture of data protection compliance. The only legal aspect of my role at The Privacy Compliance Hub is maintaining its legal content. The rest of the role involves making decisions on product development and sales strategy.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Being my own boss.
What’s the most challenging element of your job? / Have you faced any crossroads in your career so far and if so how did you manage that?
The most challenging element of my job is the most interesting. I am a lawyer by nature and by training and yet I need to think like a sales person and a product manager. That is a challenge.
The only time I ever felt at a crossroads was when I left Google. I had an amazing job at an amazing company and the financial rewards were not insignificant. However, I was not enjoying it, so I told the team I was leaving. It was an easy decision to make.
So far what has been your career highlight?
I was proud of what I helped build at Google, but I think that my career highlight is yet to come.
Who or what has had the biggest influence on your professional career so far?
When I started in private practice I shared a room with a senior partner called Eddie Sibley. On my first day he gave me my pep talk. He said, “You can’t make any mistake I can’t get you out of; if you win a case, make sure everyone knows about it; and don’t ever wear polyester shirts in court.” I think that was pretty good advice for any lawyer.
What do you think the emerging skills are which will best equip lawyers for the future?
I think that technological change will force lawyers to make sure that they are good at the value added side of being a lawyer. Lawyers who can’t engage with clients on their level, don’t take steps to really understand a client’s business and can’t come up with innovative solutions will fall by the wayside.
Do you have any advice for new trainees or paralegals beginning a career in law?
Make sure that you understand why you are doing what you are doing – understand what your client needs; understand what the transaction is achieving; or understand why that client has ended up in litigation.
What could you see yourself being or doing if you had not pursued a career in the legal sector?
I would have loved to have been a writer, but I think that lack of talent would have held me back.
What do you do to relax outside the office?
I have no problem relaxing and it is one of my favourite things! I enjoy cycling and appreciate what professional cyclists say – don’t stand if you can sit and don’t sit if you can lie down.
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