Tom Purton, Travers Smith training partner

Firm: Travers Smith

Department: Commercial

University: Bristol

Degree subject: Law

Hobbies: Sport (in particular, cricket, tennis, skiing, rugby and motor racing); travel.

How long have you been a partner? 13 years

Who/what inspired you to be a lawyer? My father was a City lawyer and was very successful without ever compromising his integrity, humour or sense of decency.  A career in law struck me as offering huge opportunities, both within and outside the profession. 

What things did you wish you knew before embarking on a legal career? There is no such thing as the ’best’ firm or the most interesting/rewarding area of law.  The key is to find the firm/practice area that is right for you.

What does your typical day involve? A huge variety – transactional and advisory work for clients; managing the department, dealing with firm wide issues; graduate recruitment (interviews, presentations etc) and business development (pitches, seminars, marketing events).

What are the most challenging aspects of your job? Keeping all the different plates spinning and making sure that, however demanding, it remains enjoyable.

What has been the highlight of your career so far? Difficult to choose between being made a partner, becoming head of the Commercial Department and Head of Graduate Recruitment – each role has brought its own demands and opportunities but I’ve enjoyed them enormously.

What are the best aspects of your job? It is a combination of the people and the unique culture of the firm; the quality and variety of the work; and the fact that I feel (perhaps wrongly!) that I can make a difference.

What are the worst aspects of your job? The fact that you can never have an ’off’ day – you need to be at your best all the time.  That is what the job demands and the clients expect.

What tips would you give to students who want to break into the legal profession? Ask yourself what type of person you are and what motivates you and look for a firm and practice area that will best meet those aspirations.  Once you have done that, prepare carefully, do your research on the relevant firms and expect the unexpected at interview.

What are the most common mistakes you’ve seen candidates making? Giving answers to questions in interview that the candidate thinks we want to hear rather than being honest; displaying a lack of knowledge about the firm and what we do; writing and/or talking too much in the application/interview – within reason, brevity is always better.

How has the legal market changed since the days you were a trainee? The impact of technology has had the biggest impact – ease and speed of communication and the expected response times that have followed have made anything possible in the eyes of clients.

What impact has the recession had on your firm? We have had to work very hard to look after our clients whilst increasing our share of work in a flat market.  The last few years have seen extraordinary economic conditions by any standards and I would be lying if I said it has not been a tough environment in which to work.

What three words best describe your firm? Entrepreneurial; commercial; approachable.

Where did you go for your last holiday? Skiing in France

What gadget/gizmo would you be lost without? Sky Plus