James Szerdy, DWF grad recruitment partner

Firm: DWF                                 

Department: Banking & Finance

University: Sheffield

Degree subject: Law

Hobbies: Mainly sport, particularly football (Chester FC fan), golf, tennis & cycling

How long have you been a partner? 16 years

Who/what inspired you to be a lawyer? There is no one thing or person that inspired me to be a lawyer nor is there any history of law in the family. I felt it was a profession that would suit my abilities and would keep me interested.

What things did you wish you knew before embarking on a legal career? The importance of specializing and ensuring you choose the right area of specialization (not that I am suggesting I didn’t make the right choice!)

What does your typical day involve? This may sound trite but there really is not a typical day. Some days may be taken up entirely by fee earning transactional work and completions, others by internal management issues. It ensures a varied work life but it is essential to maintain an orderly diary.

What are the most challenging aspects of your job? Successfully achieving a balance between work and family life

What has been the highlight of your career so far? Probably advising on the administrative receivership of Windsor Safari Park as a newly qualified lawyer in the early 90’s. It was technically challenging and required great sensitivity over the animals and their welfare before concluding a sale to Legoland. It was a fascinating and enjoyable case to work on particularly so early in my career.

What are the best aspects of your job? I enjoy the academic stimulus of the law but ultimately it is the people – both colleagues and clients – that make the job what it is.

What are the worst aspects of your job? The daily commute

What tips would you give to students who want to break into the legal profession? Assuming academic achievement is a given, try to get as broad a range of work and life experiences as possible and have a clear understanding of why you want to practice law.

What are the most common mistakes you’ve seen candidates making? Trying to be funny in interviews – it rarely comes off.

How has the legal market changed since the days you were a trainee? It has changed beyond recognition with increased regulation, commoditization, specialization, expansion of the global markets, but more than anything is the impact of the advancement in technology.

What impact has the recession had on your firm? The challenges faced by commercial law firms have been immense but the fact that we have seen and continue to see year on year growth in headcount, turnover and profit demonstrates that, rather than letting the adverse economic conditions to have a negative impact on us, we have adapted to the circumstances and identified and exploited the opportunities that exist in the downturn.

What three words best describe your firm? Dynamic, progressive, collaborative

Where did you go for your last holiday? Menorca           

What gadget/gizmo would you be lost without? Blackberry