Programmes: (BSc 1994, Computer Science and Software Engineering; CPE 1995, Law)
What first attracted you to study at Birmingham?
I have spent almost my entire life in Birmingham and it certainly is ‘home.’ When it came to studying, I knew the excellence of the reputation of the University of Birmingham, coupled with its wonderful campus, so it was a relatively straightforward decision for me.
I did the CPE course at the Law School, having initially obtained a First Class BSc (Hons) Computer Science and Software Engineering Degree at the University of Birmingham. So I already knew the University and campus well, even before embarking upon my legal studies.
I was also in the fortunate position to be sponsored by Pinsent Curtis (now Pinsent Masons) who were rightfully quite selective about which Law Schools their upcoming trainee lawyers should study at. They were very positive about me choosing to undertake the CPE at the University of Birmingham.
Can you tell us a little about your career progression since graduation?
After completing my legal studies, I trained with Pinsent Curtis, who at the time were regarded as the top tier law firm for IT law in Birmingham. I then moved to Wragge & Co (now Gowling WLG), who welcomed the idea of having a dual qualified software engineer and technology lawyer.
What was your route into the formation of Technology Law Alliance?
I progressed within Wragge & Co and really enjoyed my time there. After a number of years, I realised with another colleague and friend of mine at Wragge & Co, Stephen Ollerenshaw, that there was an opportunity in the marketplace to offer a different way of providing legal services compared to a traditional law firm.
This realisation led to me and Stephen leaving Wragge & Co, to co-found Technology Law Alliance. It was a novel (and risky !) thing for us to do at the time, as it had not been done before and we were going from a standing start, with no brand name and no clients .
Stephen and I launched Technology Law Alliance in January 2003. It was not long before we were making headlines in the legal press about our new way of delivering legal services. The model, of a boutique specialist IT law firm providing services through senior practitioners, to provide a more cost effective and professional service, gathered momentum within the business world. This saw us being awarded the ‘Champion of Enterprise’ Award in the Midlands, as well as being recognised as ‘Ambassadors of Enterprise’ in the Midlands.
As a result, we have now advised on billions of pounds worth of technology deals, and we have now been recognised as the top tier law firm for IT law in the Midlands for six consecutive years. Our London office has also been independently ranked higher than such heavyweight international law firms as Clifford Chance.
Stephen and I have also been the only lawyers from a Midlands law firm to be recognised consistently within the Legal 500’s Elite UK Technology Lawyers list for each of the past 5 years.
How do you feel your studies have influenced or helped you in your career?
I feel that my studies at the University of Birmingham have been instrumental in my career path. My Computer Science and Software Engineering degree at the time was one of the few courses in the country which was accredited by a number of industry bodies, including the British Computer Society, the IEE and the IEEE. This reinforced the calibre and quality of the course.
The CPE was very intensive, but again, supported by some great lecturers who made the course interesting and informative. Ray Hodgin, my Tort lecturer, also brought the subject to life with his anecdotes and amusing warnings to all lawyers not to do ‘DIY’ in view of all the accidents which have arisen as a result of it – an excuse which I still use to get out of the DIY at home !
What has been the highlight of your career so far? What is next for you?
The highlights of my career have been:
- Technology Law Alliance becoming a Tier 1 law firm in the Midlands as independently ranked by Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners;
- Technology Law Alliance overtaking Clifford Chance in the London rankings for technology law work;
- Becoming ranked as a Tier 1 Technology Lawyer by Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners;
- Becoming ranked in the Elite List of UK Technology Lawyers by Legal 500.
What did you enjoy most about your time at Birmingham? Any favourite memories of campus?
I really enjoyed the campus and facilities at the University of Birmingham, coupled with making great friendships. The University’s Careers Library was not only a wonderful resource, but the advisers literally provided life-changing advice. I still remember Dr Richard Maynard, a Careers’ Adviser, telling me about the wonderful prospects of embarking upon my career in IT Law in Birmingham at Pinsents rather than having to go to London.
What advice would you give to prospective students who may be thinking of studying at Birmingham?
Birmingham is now a different place to what it was when I studied - I would say it is even better, especially with the city having more national and international business connections. What I love about Birmingham is that it has the ‘right balance’ for just about everything in my view – and the fact that one can get to most places that one needs to go to in the city within about 15 – 30 minutes.
The University of Birmingham also offers the type of campus with its greenery, facilities and resources which leave one not wanting for much else.