Alex Griffith, DLA Piper grad recruitment partner

DLA Piper graduate recruitment partner Alex Griffith advises students to avoid bluffing your way through interviews

Name: Alex Griffith

Firm: DLA Piper

Department: Finance & Projects/Debt Finance

University: Royal Holloway, University of London

Degree subject: European Studies (French, Italian, History)

Hobbies: Tennis, Squash, Caterham 7 cars

How long have you been a partner? Five years

Who/what inspired you to be a lawyer? A family friend who was a commercial partner in a large City practice

What things did you wish you knew before embarking on a legal career? Basic accounting skills. 

What does your typical day involve? No day is ever the same !  I normally have a number of calls with clients and lawyers working opposite me on transactions, internal meetings with members of my team and other DLA lawyers and some drafting work. Most days I will have either a lunch or evening function with clients (and for my sins sometimes both !).

What are the most challenging aspects of your job? Managing client expectations (and that means both external clients and internal clients)

What has been the highlight of your career so far? Assisting the Towergate Insurance group to restructure its bank facilities and assets following a breach of its bank covenants. It was a very complicated, messy reorganization that entirely consumed about 18 months of my life.

What are the best aspects of your job? The daily variety and intellectual challenges

What are the worst aspects of your job? The daily variety and intellectual challenges

What tips would you give to students who want to break into the legal profession?  Be flexible and open minded about entry into the profession – there are an increasing number of routes to qualification – some more traditional than others, but all worth considering

What are the most common mistakes you’ve seen candidates making?  Candidates trying to impress recruiters at interview with bluffed knowledge or hands-on experience of business or legal issues – only for their bluff to be called and for them to look ridiculous. Be honest !

How has the legal market changed since the days you were a trainee?  As a positive, the market is a lot more fluid – lawyers can move firms with greater ease. As a negative, securing a training contract seems to be more difficult than ever before.

What impact has the recession had on your firm?Whilst the downturn has had an effect on some parts of the firm that are directly tied to investment banking and other core “City” activities, generally, it has had a positive impact – we have seen General Counsel of many corporates change their buying activities – their budgets are being squeezed hard and they need to focus relationships with firms that can offer them better value across a wider range of products, services and geographies.

What three words best describe your firm?  Ambitious, adaptable, meritocratic

Where did you go for your last holiday? Deepest, darkest (and wettest) Devon

What gadget/gizmo would you be lost without?  At work, my well-used Blackberry. At home, my Ipad2.