Matthew Readings

Shearman & Sterling’s new co-graduate recruitment partner Matthew Readings explains why it’s so important to deliver the highest quality possible.

Firm: Shearman & Sterling           

Department: Antitrust

University: Nottingham University

Degree subject: Law

Hobbies: Trekking, running and tennis

How long have you been a partner? Seven years

Who/what inspired you to be a lawyer?  A ‘cool’ uncle who was a lawyer (it’s all relative…) – and regularly being told I should be a lawyer by family members because as a child I had an answer to everything (or rather thought I did…).  

What things did you wish you knew before embarking on a legal career?  The impact IT would have on the delivery of legal services, i.e. knowing the blackberry was coming.

What does your typical day involve?  Calls with clients in a range of countries and time zones, written advice (by email and formal memos) and working with colleagues on marketing / business development initiatives.

What are the most challenging aspects of your job?  Ensuring that everything is done to the highest quality possible – the competition is fierce.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?  Being made partner.

What are the best aspects of your job?  Every day is different and stimulating.

What are the worst aspects of your job?  Trying to find the right balance between work and play.

What tips would you give to students who want to break into the legal profession?  Make sure you really want to be a lawyer (student placement schemes are a great way to get insight into what being a lawyer really means) and then demonstrating your enthusiasm and drive to be a lawyer in interviews etc.

What are the most common mistakes you’ve seen candidates making?  Using soundbites and jargon they think recruiters like to hear without being able to give any real substance to answers – for example, “I want to work for your firm because it’s an ‘international’ law firm” – and…?

How has the legal market changed since the days you were a trainee?   Lawyers right across the experience range (i.e. trainees upwards) are much more sophisticated and proactive with regard to career planning. 

What impact has the recession had on your firm? It has prompted even greater focus on client service and teamwork to capitalise on business opportunities

What three words best describe your firm?  Exciting, friendly and entrepreneurial.

Where did you go for your last holiday?  Mauritius

What gadget/gizmo would you be lost without?   My handheld GPS satnav for trekking.