Ian is Head of the Energy & Infrastructure sector and is based in our Bristol office. He moved to Foot Anstey in 2016, having spent his earlier career years in major national and international law firms, most recently at Pinsent Masons in the City.
What persuaded you to make the move to Foot Anstey?
After meeting John Westwell and other senior players, what really appealed to me was the opportunity to work at a firm where I could do great quality work, with hugely talented people and with an ethos where I would have a strong voice and a real say in the direction of the firm and of the energy and infrastructure practice.
With major international law firms, you can sometimes feel that you’re going on an amazing journey in a great business, but with little ability to control or influence your own destiny. You go where you’re needed, do what’s required.
In Foot Anstey, I saw an ambitious and growing firm that would offer me truly exciting opportunities.
What would you say to someone who is considering moving out of the City, but is concerned they’d have to give up too much to make the move?
At Foot Anstey, we work on major projects, just like a much larger firm. The difference is, we just work on fewer of them at any one time. The quality, scale and significance of the projects can be the same. We are as commercial, as skilled and well-respected to win appointments on such projects.
The only real difference is we may not (yet) have the scalability to run myriad such projects at any one time. That also has a benefit, in that (without thousands of mouths to feed) we can be more selective and strategic in the challenges and opportunities we chose to pursue and do.
If you’re a strong lawyer and enjoy what you’re doing, then moving to Foot Anstey isn’t a barrier to doing anything. You don’t have to give up aspirations of doing top quality work with amazing, interesting and inspiring people.
What’s different about how things are done at Foot Anstey?
For one thing, there's a keen focus on value delivered to the client. Many firms talk about client listening, empathy, collaboration, etc. It's another thing to really think about it and mean it, start different types of conversations and then really do it, which is how it is at Foot Anstey. It's a cultural thing. We're keen to be business enablers, not just a cost for our clients.
It’s creative and entrepreneurial at Foot Anstey, too – not just at the top, but throughout the business, at every level. There is a willingness to try new ways of doing things. That ethos means we can be agile, make quick decisions and put them into action. It takes less time to turn the ship.
What is your experience of "freedom" at Foot Anstey?
If you have a sound idea, or can see a great opportunity, you're more likely to hear a "show me" than a “no” at Foot Anstey. We are all super-clear on firm and client strategy and so there is a culture of trusting people to do the right thing. There's a freedom in that trust, without cramping personality or style.
If you’re a talented, hard-working and willing to learn, the culture of trust enables you to get on and do it. To pursue opportunities; to go out, win and do great work and, in doing so, feel supported. In my view, this is the ultimate opportunity.
What did you want to achieve at Foot Anstey, and how do you reflect on what you have accomplished so far?
I have always wanted to do great work, be a part of a team and a business that is interesting, exciting and well-respected; to build and grow a practice and, perhaps more importantly, a legacy for other like-minded lawyers. Far from derailing my plans, moving to Foot Anstey has added power and impetus to that.
In business, as in life, there is always compromise. My move out of the City, for family reasons, involved a certain amount of compromise. However, my moving to Foot Anstey involved zero compromise on quality of work and of people; on my ability to work on cutting-edge projects with interesting clients, to develop a practice, or to do complex legal analysis and deal with technical, thorny issues.
What does the location of Foot Anstey (Bristol) mean to you?
There’s no question that it’s great to be able to live and work in this beautiful part of the and work close to home world. I live a short distance from Bristol in breathtakingly picturesque Monmouthshire in South Wales, just a short distance from the Breckon Beacons.
The area is also a fantastic hub for travel further into the South West (Devon and Cornwall), to Birmingham and the Midlands and up to London, whether by road or rail. On the train, I can get into London and Foot Anstey's City office for 9/9.30am meetings without a dreadful 'red-eye' start. I can be in London Paddington in 1hr40mins from Newport, or 1hr15mins from Bristol – quicker than many commuting daily into the City.
The region is also serviced by some well-connected regional airports – Bristol, Exeter and Cardiff Airports all readily commutable, as well as (for me) Birmingham just a 1hr30mins drive, door-to-door. That's great for a practise that knows no geographical boundaries: as well as clients around the UK, my business involves working with clients right across Europe and in the US and China.
Finally, the South West is a great area for recreation and the arts – whether it's premiership rugby at Bristol, Bath, Exeter, Gloucester, or Worcester, a theatrical performance at the Bristol Old Vic, or you're keen to explore all that the surf, sea and some of the best coastlines in Europe, living and working in the South West has it all.