Interview with Nik White, Managing Partner at Brabners

Posted in Interviews on 20 Aug 2018

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role

I’ve been at Brabners since joining as a trainee solicitor 23 years ago.  I was appointed as Managing Partner in May this year. I also head up our commercial department, advising clients on a wide variety of commercial, contract, IP & IT matters.

Why did you choose to pursue a career in the legal sector?

I thought a legal career was best suited to my strengths (and weaknesses) and it felt like it was the profession I would be most suited and able to give my best to and get the most from because of this match. Encouragement from my parents helped too.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Without a doubt, the most enjoyable aspect of my role is making a difference and having a positive impact on those around me; colleagues and clients alike. Day-to-day, I really enjoy the interaction with people which my job brings.

What’s the most challenging element of your job?

As with most jobs, spinning plates and being able to effectively prioritise can pose a challenge. I think the key to maintaining balance is being open and approachable but being disciplined with what your focus needs to be on.

So far what has been your career highlight?

I really do enjoy continually seeing so many good people come up through the ranks and thrive and playing my part in helping to nurture, support and promote their development –there have been countless highlights like this. Also, having been at the same firm throughout my career, being appointed as Managing Partner was a real high point.

Who or what has had the biggest influence on your professional career so far?

I feel very lucky to have had amazing encouragement and support from my family and friends, as well as such supportive partners, colleagues and clients throughout my career. If I had to single out one person it would probably be Michael Brabner. I admire how he built and ran the firm and also his calm, assured manner and complete integrity. Having gone from being the last trainee solicitor who shared an office with him to becoming Managing Partner of the firm which bears his family name means a great deal to me.

What do you believe are the greatest talent challenges for law firms?

A key challenge for law firms is the need to holistically and creatively look at what young lawyers are looking for in the role and from their careers and adapt accordingly. It’s short-sighted to think talent is driven purely or predominantly by the salary on offer. Instead, people are looking for different benefits, a more well-rounded package, the opportunity to learn and develop and the ability to enjoy a challenging career whilst also having a fulfilling and enjoyable life away from work.

What do you think the emerging skills are which will best equip lawyers for the future?

Continuing to develop skills beyond the narrow application of law is essential. Pragmatism, commerciality and practicality ensure advice isn’t one dimensional and is tailored to finding the solutions which clients are looking for. Clients need their advisers to be able to stand in their shoes and provide meaningful advice which helps them best navigate a situation or take advantage of an opportunity and which creates or preserves value. Being tech savvy is also increasingly a must.

Do you have any advice for new trainees or paralegals beginning a career in law?

I’d urge young professionals to really get to grips with, and develop knowledge of, the sectors in which their clients operate. This will enable you to deliver superior advice from a position of a depth of understanding and relevant perspective.

It’s also never too soon to start building your network and developing the skills it takes to win and develop professional relationships. It will provide the launch pad for your career and a key advantage as you progress given that people – at all levels – prefer to work with people they get on with and trust.

What could you see yourself being or doing if you hadn’t pursued a career in the legal sector?

Perhaps not dissimilar to some of elements of the role I have to play from time-to-time, but I’m told I would have made a good diplomat. Apparently this was suggested to my parents as a careers option from an early age.

If I was opting for a labour of love, I’d have been a music journalist or played drums in a Led Zeppelin tribute band.

What do you do to relax outside the office?

Principally spending time having fun with family and friends and with lots of the usual – playing and watching various sports, film, reading, travel and holidays. I also enjoy playing the drums – a great way to blow steam and ease any frustrations!

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