I was born and educated in Scotland where I was a partner, managing partner and chair in a UK 100 legal firm until April 2021. I am now living in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. with my wife. I work primarily from Atlanta but maintain a property in Edinburgh, in the United Kingdom.

I hesitated to write this blog, the subject seemed too simple and too obvious, but I have recently seen so many examples of mistakes by others, and committed a couple myself admittedly, that I decided I should. DO NOT SEND AN EMAIL OR TEXT WITHOUT CHECKING IT FOR ACCURACY, RE-READING IT. DO NOT ATTACH ANY DOCUMENT WITHOUT CHECKING IT IS THE RIGHT ONE.Continue Reading Check It!

If you have been asked to do something and are unclear about the way forward, ask – don’t assume. In my view the role of any boss is to set out clearly what is expected and when. If you are in doubt then either he or she has not done so in enough detail for you or you have not listened attentively enough. ASK! Admitting early on to not listening properly is better than delivering the wrong thing. Give yourself and them time to get the task done the way they need it. Don’t present a work product that does not meet their requirements at the eleventh hour.Continue Reading Never be afraid to ask

This is the advice that I have to listen to frequently myself. I am a strong analytical thinker and so I like to have time to apply that skill, I like to have all the relevant facts. My challenge is not to try and gather too many facts, to spend too long analysing them, to spend too long reaching a decision. It is often a hard tightrope to cross. Here are my thoughts on walking it.Continue Reading Do Not Procrastinate!

The incoming email annoyed you to say the least. You have written your proposed response, controverted all of the points, dealt with all the inaccuracies, this email will really show them who is boss, press send and go home, what is more put your out of office on that you are not back now until tomorrow. Is that the right response? You may feel better but it is often not the right response. My preference would be that, having written it, save it to drafts and read the incoming email and your response again in the morning.Continue Reading Sleep on it

I was asked this question the other day in relation to the compensation system for a legal partnership. Many partnerships adopt broadly similar systems but they come with lots of different nuances. One of the biggest issues is whether to make it open or closed. Can all the partners see what each other partner earns each year, or is it closed and only the individual partner and the Managing Partner and whatever group of partners make up the compensation committee know? Can you say that one system is better than another? Continue Reading Compensation: Closed or Open?

I think that one of the key roles of a leader is to train, mentor and develop your successors. I believe that there are strong personal and organisational reasons for doing so. In professional firms I have seen too often practice areas and clients wither on the vine or move firm because this has not been properly done, a partner retires and nothing has been done to secure their sucession. I know that will seem mad to some but I have seen it happen all too oftenContinue Reading Leadership and Succession

I am no psychologist so the thoughts that follow are simply those of my personal experience. I was moved to write this article as I recently had an insight into when a fear might be holding back an individual and their organisation. I use the word fear loosely to mean any form of worry or concern that you may have. I think we all use these terms interchangeably, we talk of “fearing that something may happen”, when we may actually mean we are simply worried or concerned. I think I have lived with fear my whole life and I think it has served me well most of the time, making me alive to and to consider the downsides of any action, but I can also see those instances where it has paralysed me from taking appropriate action. Recognising your fears, addressing them and their cause and channeling them is, I think, the key.Continue Reading Channel your fear

I was asked a tricky question the other day. The question was: ” What would I do if I felt that the values of the organization I worked for were not in line with my own”?

As I said at the time the question led to so many other questions it was hard to unpack it in order to answer it easily. What did the questioner have in mind. How big was the mis-alignment, both in scope and effect. It was a great question.

My initial response was and is that I would find it hard to believe personally that the values of an organization I worked for would differ materially from my own. Thankfully I do not think have ever been in that position. Since then however, I have spoken about the incident to my “millennial” son, who tells me that his generation are constantly faced with this issue. I realise now that my answer demanded further inquiry and consideration.Continue Reading Aligning Values

I am sometimes asked “What should I read that will help me?” The trite answer is anything and everything you can that will teach you something about yourself, the people around about you or the world in which you live. There is so much material around now and easily accessible through the internet that you will have to limit what you read. Disinformation on the internet and social media also means that you will have to read it with an open and somewhat skeptical mind. These days I find inspiration in many places: books, television, blogs, Ted talks, LinkedIn posts, Tic Toc, the list is endless.Continue Reading What to Read?

I am constantly amazed at the failure of people, clients, contacts, friends, vendors, whomever to respond to texts, emails or voicemails. Failing to do so creates a vacuum into which the sender can import their worst fears, often about themselves, and damage your relationship. I will assume for the purposes of this article that you actually want to have a relationship with the sender. If not, failure to reply is a way to kill it, not, I would argue the best way, but a way.Continue Reading Acknowledge and Reply