In this episode of Lessons I Learned in Law Scott Brown speaks to Jamie Pearson who is General Counsel at Genomics PLC and Sarah Marshall, VP & Head of Legal International & Japan, Alexion (AZ Rare Disease).
Jamie and Sarah met whilst working for a company that meant they shared a considerable commute! Now, together they run the High Five Project to support lawyers entering the life sciences sector, as well as in-house lawyers more broadly.
Sarah and Jamie share the lessons they’ve learned in law including:
Sarah, Jamie and Scott share their perspectives on the differences between in-house roles compared to working for law firms, and how you can potentially make the transition between the two or between different sectors.
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This episode of Lessons I Learned in Law is brought to you by Beamery.
Beamery is an AI-powered talent platform, designed to hire candidates faster, develop the skills of your workforce, and increase employee retention.
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Scott Brown (00:01):
Hi everyone and welcome to Lessons I learned in Law with me, Scott Brown. I'm founder and managing director at Heriot Brown In-house Legal Recruitment.
I'm also a recovering lawyer turned legal recruiter and I've got a focus or Heriot Brown has a focus on helping lawyers find fulfilling careers. And on Lessons I learned in Law, you get to hear my conversations with a top legal mind as we walk through in their careers and hear their lessons learned in law. Our hope is that you can, can take something from their advice that helps you in your own career path. But today you're in for a bit of a treat. It's the, the first for me anyway. It's two, two for the price of one as I'm joined by two heavy hitters from the pharma and life sciences sectors. So my first guest is Jamie Pearson, who's general counsel and co-chair of Diversity and Inclusion committee at Genomics PLC. Hi Jamie.
Jamie Pearson (01:05):
Hi Scott. Nice to be with you.
Scott Brown (01:08):
Welcome. And Sarah Marshall, who's vice president for Legal International and Japan at AstraZeneca. And it's Alexion, which is the rare diseases part of AstraZeneca. Hi Sarah, a warm. Welcome.
Sarah Marshall (01:22):
Thanks Scott. Thank you for having us
Scott Brown (01:24):
Together they're both the driving force behind Sarah and Jamie's high five series, which I've loved reading and seeing on, on LinkedIn. So hope that our, our listeners can hear more about that as well. So how did you guys meet and, and come together for the, the high five series?
Sarah Marshall (01:50):
We first met at Shire Pharmaceuticals. We were both working in the legal team there in Basingstoke, and I guess we probably we headed off immediately, but we really bonded over being the London commuters going all the way down from central London to the outer reaches of Hampshire. I mean the Basingstoke office wasn't even near the station. So we had plenty of time to, to bond on that long commute. And both of us, I think, insisted that there was no way we were moving out of our lovely spots in central London. <Laugh> but that’s testament to how, how exciting we found the opportunities at Shire, but
Jamie Pearson (02:27):
<Laugh> yeah, yeah, you're right. But the office you're, you're also right that the office was completely in the middle of fields. Wasn't it? There was nothing within walking distance. There was no cash machine. It did have a gym and it was a really exciting place to work, but it was a long commute.
Scott Brown (02:44):
<Laugh> right. How long was that down there? So was that, was that Waterloo Waterloo out or how,
Sarah Marshall (02:51):
Yeah, I was going from Bethnall Green to Basingstoke outer reaches and I think it was probably a good day was an hour and a half for me and I, you were coming from north London, right? Jamie
Jamie Pearson (03:01):
That's right. And I tended to drive mostly and it took me two hours, 10 minutes each way.
Scott Brown (03:07):
Oh, wow. Well that's dedication. That's dedication. Yeah.
Jamie Pearson (03:10):
Scott Brown (03:11):
Praying for a pandemic. <Laugh>
Sarah Marshall (03:13):
We, I watched five series of the wire in like the first month of that commute
Jamie Pearson (03:17):
Sarah Marshall (03:19):
Or put the time to great use as you can tell. Yeah.
Jamie Pearson (03:22):
Jamie Pearson (03:53):
The project, the high five project that, so if anyone looks at Jamie Pearson, Genomic, or Sarah Marshall Alexion on LinkedIn, you can find the articles and there's, there's like a batch of about seven of them at the moment. And it's really because Sarah and I have climbed the greasy poll of life sciences law in house. Not entirely by ourselves, certainly aided the support and encouragement of our work friends -Sarah and I actually spent years having really great conversations about each other's workplaces and being supportive to each other and giving them each other ideas as to how to deal with stuff. That was a challenge for each of us, but we feel that there isn't that much help out for people who want to either come into life sciences from outside private practice or from another sector. And then when they're in it, there's a lot of phrases and instruction banded around, you know, become a trusted advisor, develop executive presence.
Jamie Pearson (05:02):
<Affirmative>, you know, develop good rapport with the teams that you work with. And nobody ever really told us what those things meant, although they were thrown at us quite a lot. So really what we're trying to do with the high five series is, is primarily try and give a bit of help to the extent that's useful, how we navigated those things and try to do it in a really friendly non-judgmental non-hierarchical way. You'll see that all the articles have lots of exclamation marks they're written in an informal language that's deliberate because there isn't that kind of tone within the legal community or there isn't very much then the other is Sarah. And I think that probably there's a bunch of things we could do to try and help life sciences lawyers manage their careers. And we don't know what all of those are yet. The high five series is just like the start of it. Sarah, have I captured that properly?
Sarah Marshall (06:02):
Yeah, I think, I think you've, you've described that really well. And I wanted to pull out this concept of all this generic advice, you know, you and I received a lot of that kind of advice from different people, you know, from people in legal functions and business people in. And I feel like as a leader and manager myself, that's just not really good enough. I mean, we really need to be able to give junior lawyers actionable things that they can do. So when you say, be strategic, give them three things they can do that day, read this, you know, business review, look at this annual report, try and understand what drives the sales in this market. For instance is thinking about examples from my daily work. So I think we can really help people more with the ultimate goal of elevating the role of our profession in the enterprise. Like I'm constantly frustrated even now that I'm seen in a box of the legal function. When I know that I have a view across the business in a contribution to make from a really interesting objective and independent perspective, mm-hmm <affirmative> as a lawyer, you know, not reporting into the business. So I think there's a lot more that we can do, but we really need to enable people to do those things earlier on. Yeah. So I think the overall goal is gonna make us all better and I think make our jobs more interesting and fun.
Scott Brown (07:18):
Yeah. No, it's, I think it's a great, it is brilliant. The articles I've read and, and the content that I've seen it is very well branded and I think will be really well received by the, the legal community. And I'm sure it has been, has been so far. Is it, is it purely, is it purely for the life sciences sector? It's got broader application? Those that I've read.
Jamie Pearson (07:43):
I think we started off with life sciences because it's what Sarah and I have known for years now, but we've had some really nice feedback from people who are actually in private practice or in other sectors where they're saying, actually this is completely, I mean, that's not, you know, a lot of it is helpful are probably to people in any profession, right? It’s about how you really start to think properly about your career. And I think we are not really used to doing that. I think it took me until I was almost 40 to start thinking properly about what happens next, how long I stay where I am that type of, so I think it's transferable to a wider audience.
Sarah Marshall (08:23):
Yeah, absolutely. And there are some things that are unique and specific to the industry that we work in, but other industries have those specificities too. But I think the sort of fundamental principles of just providing advice, that just goes that step further. Yeah. Rather than saying, you know, one blanket statement and leaving people at sea to figure out what that means. Yeah. You know, just providing almost an, an action plan, finding that conversation, but we'd really love to hear from people in other sectors because we're quite conditioned the environment that we work in and because we both enjoy it so much, we think it's like extra special. Yeah. But I'm sure many others feel the same way about that. You know, friends working in digital environments or telcos back in the nineties that they were at the cutting edge of everything.
Jamie Pearson (09:10):
I remember the GC of Whitbreds going to see him talk like years and years ago. I think it was about 15 years ago. And someone asked him, ‘what's the best thing you can do to be a really good in-house lawyer’. And he said, ‘you have to love the product’. And I thought that was really interesting. It kind of stuck with me. So I agree with what you say, Sarah, we love our sector. It's super complicated and that's what makes it interesting. And there's a long path before a product gets to market and that's got a lot of twists and turns in the road. So that's super exciting, but he is still the virtues. He's like, I love working in the hospitality sector. I love the fact that our hotels are known for giving people quiet places and comfy beds – he was talking about I think Premier Inn, I think at the time. And so I think people have that pride in their industry and that's a bit of a revelation when you come from private practice because they, you know, it's not quite the same bargain there. You know,
Sarah Marshall (10:14):
I think it's sense that you're you part of the, the same mission and it doesn't really matter what that mission is. It's amazing when that mission is helping people transform their health or transform their lives. And so life sciences has that purpose right out there on the outside. But I think people can find that common goal and that's, you know, spread a core working alongside colleagues from all different for S yeah. So I think that's, you know, makes it transferable. Mm.
Scott Brown (10:40):
So you weren't, neither of you were, were driven by lining equity partners pockets in law firms. <Laugh> in private practice?
Sarah Marshall (10:50):
Sounds like another podcast.
Jamie Pearson (10:53):
Would've been driven well, I dunno, I found the, because we are still in the corporate world, right? We haven't gone to work in a, in the voluntary sector for example. So we're still, you know, we're still part of the world that has nice rewards, but I really noticed it was nice to have probably less fewer rewards, but have this driving sort of vision for the business that we were there to help patients as well. And in law firms you don't get that it’s mostly I feel it's mostly about the rewards and maybe it's because I, I perceive they haven't maybe exploited the ways in which the various ways in which they really help their clients. But when I was in it, I did feel that there was a kind of, I wanted something more. So no one wasn't Scott in short. Yeah,
Sarah Marshall (11:44):
Absolutely. And I think that environment of being one of many experts is quite addictive too. Like I felt when I was in law firms and it was a long time ago, it was very much, you know, come unto me and I shall hand down my expert advice to you. It doesn't really wash when you're sitting around the table with, you know, three PhDs, probably a leading position in their area, everyone, but you, as the lawyer has an MBA you know, even somebody in quite an entry level marketing role these days and people are very, very clever and engaged and have a completely different perspective. So I think there's just so many more opportunities to learn from peers
Jamie Pearson (12:23):
And people don't like that approach. Anyway, it still happens. It still the norm in some countries, Japan quite often you find in traditional companies, that is the way the legal department operates, but I, I just query a) whether they get the right amount of information out of their clients before they hand down, before they bestow the opinion on them. And it's just it's much more interesting to work sort of collaboratively with them. It's more fun.
Scott Brown (12:52):
We’ll jump into a lesson guys. Start with yourself, Jamie. If you could share your first lesson from law.
Jamie Pearson (13:27):
So I started off, I went into it because I not, because I really wanted to be a lawyer. I, I really didn't. I wanted to go and work for the Red Cross in Africa. But that turns out that was quite difficult required a masters that I couldn't afford and so on and at the time we then wanted to go into it. My, I felt that someone in my family needed to earn a reasonable, regular, reliable salary. So I did not go into it really desperate to be a lawyer. And weirdly the lesson is Scott that you know, 20 years on, I absolutely love this job. It is such a good job for people who want to use their brains a bit, but also what people don't realize. It's all about relationships, where a customer service function - like a hotel reception or an airline crew. We have to give the best service that we can and help the company navigate through things. And that's really exciting. So I never thought I'd get to that stage. And I spent several of my first years in law, really not liking it an d wondering what I'd done, but stupidly, I, I, when I was younger, I didn't really think I had a, an element of choice in anything. So I suppose that helped me stay where I was for a while.
Scott Brown (14:49):
Was that in practice or in, this was, was this, this is prior to moving in house.
Jamie Pearson (14:55):
I think general, I was a very obedient child. Scott. I just did what I was told. And I think there's an element of me doing that in my career until, until really very late, you know, probably my thirties where I was like, ‘actually, I, I can think about what I want to do’. And maybe most people aren't as extreme as that, but I do think it takes a while for people to go. I can take the reins of this. I should be in control of this ship. So that was my main, main lesson.
Scott Brown (15:25):
Yeah. Nice. So it's a good I think it's a good one to have, but what, what was there, what was the breakthrough moment in terms of taking, taking control and taking ownership of that?
Jamie Pearson (15:35):
The breakthrough like in short was going in house, but it wasn't actually that, that, wasn't actually the, the point, the point that made me go in house is I was sent on secondment to AstraZeneca on a very long secondment. And within the first week I was like, ‘I wanna work here. I wanna work here’. People come back to my desk and ask me things casually. I love that, you know, there's no need for an engagement letter. There's no need to pick up the phone. People are just like, ‘do you have two minutes’? And I was like, oh my God, I'm trusted. And they, they quite like, and, and maybe I don't have to run to the partner, to give them this answer. So I, I love that. That was the turning point for <affirmative>.
Scott Brown (16:12):
Yeah. The autonomy, then it was one of the, was one of the main things,
Jamie Pearson (16:18):
The autonomy and just the human contact - it's quite lonely sometimes, or it was then in the 2000s at, at a law firm. It could be quite lonely if it was a slightly hierarchical place. You know, you, you could feel that your work was handed down to you. You could feel that there wasn't much collaboration going on now. I don't mean to be critical of, of law firms or imply that they're all the same like that today. This is a long time ago, but it wasn't fun.
Sarah Marshall (16:47):
Sort of lack of agency. Isn't it? I think you've talked about that before. ‘Do I have control all over my own destiny? What do I even want to do? Are there other options’ mm-hmm
Scott Brown (16:57):
Sarah Marshall (16:59):
You know, you had that opportunity to go on a secondment to a, a really high performing in house legal team, which is I think a great gift in a way to get that insight. But I think there's a lot of lawyers and law firms wondering ‘why don't I kind of into this law firm environment, this pyramid kind of scheme of getting to, to partnership maybe or not’. Mm. And wondering, you know, how can I do things differently? So secondments are a great way in for that. But I think there's also a lot of people like us who you take longer than we might have to take move. And then once you're in, you go, ‘oh, well, if I've been here for three years, maybe I would, you know, understand things a little bit differently.’ Yeah. But it's probably a segue into one of my lessons, Scott, that, you know, I wish
Jamie Pearson (17:45):
Yeah, what's yours.
Sarah Marshall (17:47):
Well, I've learned a lot. Right. And I'm still learning. But I think I wish I'd made the move sooner. And I think that just that different environment was, so I found so engaging and the different types of colleagues I worked with make met great friends. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> like Jamie and others, but I think just that the level of accountability right. And autonomy, but that the assumption that you have a contribution to make beyond your role sometimes I think was just a real revelation to me. I did find that in the law firm environment, for me, it was a lot of work sitting by myself quietly, which is not my natural state. You know, I, I appreciate now times to do that quiet work and they really hard to find, which is ironic. But I think just the opportunity to work in that collaborative environment where, you know, and very values driven organizations, I think law firms have modified their ways of working now to define purpose and have values. But when I worked in that environment, we didn't, and then I went into to Shire Pharmaceuticals, very purpose driven organization with clear values and definitions around culture. I'd never heard of this concept of culture before. You know, and so just all of, all of that, the richness of that corporate environment and the opportunities to learn.
Scott Brown (19:07):
Yeah. And what, what, what, in terms of, I guess, educating yourself or knowing that that was an option, do you think there was anyone or anything available to, to show you? ‘Oh, there is something different to working in this corporate law environment or in a law firm’?
Sarah Marshall (19:26):
I think it was hard. I mean, we are quite old, so Jamie is a little bit older than me at least seven days. But so I think it was very different back then, but I think if you think about, you know, the environment of a lot of people who've spent their lives trying to achieve to the highest levels, you know, in their education typically, and then trying to get the best possible role in a law firm is a real achievement mindset. That if you feel like you don't fit into that environment, you don't necessarily question the environment. You would question yourself. Yeah,
Scott Brown (20:00):
Sarah Marshall (20:01):
Yeah. And so it's like, well, I can't cut it. I'm not gonna be a partner in this law firm. What use am I really in this profession? I think, I hope people feel a little bit more how these days not to feel that way, but it's hard to get out of that mindset. And then you get into that, you know, corporate environment, legal skills are table stakes, but everything else that you can bring in terms of relationship building, and, you know, one of my lessons is common sense, like being that calm voice of wisdom who says ‘hold on, everybody just pause for a moment and let's look at other options, or can we approach a problem from another angle’? Cause common sense as the cliche goes, just isn't that common. And so I think we can bring a lot to the table and that independence too. That looking at problems from the side not being in that straight reporting line into corporate decision makers. I think a lot of really good business people appreciate that independent perspective and rely on it. Yeah.
Scott Brown (21:03):
Yeah. And what do, what do you think on the common sense piece, Jamie?
Jamie Pearson (21:09):
Well, I was just gonna ask you what you thought actually, Scott, cause you are a reformed lawyer and you're now in sector, I think, you know, is highly dependent on developing relationships. Right. And maintaining them. What do you think about it?
Scott Brown (21:44):
Where you're saying people coming up to your desk and just having those human conversations and human interactions - for us as recruiters, we're assessing people based on the way that they interact with us as much as anything else. We're not the people in the interview process. We're not going to technically grill someone on an area of law. So in terms of common sense and the answers that they give to a legal problem probably don't have the insights to to share on that, but how people interact, what their drivers are what, what motivates them. We can tell very quickly, you get a bit of an eye and an ear for talking to people as to whether they're going to, to make a good in-house lawyer or make that transition well, because I think as, as you've touched on, people do become accustomed to it.
Scott Brown (22:41):
And those that are chasing the partnership track or driven by that, to some extent… it's probably not the right career choice for them to move in house and, and, an d it's yeah. Things that we're testing people on and, and very much it feels ‘they're not interested or they're not, they've not gone through enough pain, <laugh> in private practice to be ready to move in house’. Similarly when conversations always come back compensation and equating it, it's a different career. And like, you've, again, like you've, you've touched on as well. It is a different career. So you can't expect it to be rewarded in the same way. As, as a private, a lawyer in private practice where they're the, they're the product effectively. That's my take on it, but I, I, I I've felt, I felt that way that you, that you've described in private practice as well. Just not feeling at home and feeling out of place I think - imposter syndrome.
Jamie Pearson (23:48):
Scott Brown (23:49):
Sarah Marshall (23:52):
I think that's where that's cultivated. Can I just pick up on something you said, Scott, about people haven't had enough pain in private practice?
I mean, wouldn't it be great if people didn't have to go through pain in that environment, if feel like in-house roles were the best alternative, because I think if people knew more early on that, ‘okay, like law firms are great for training and the kind of volume of work that that junior lawyers have to do. And the, the rigor of the profession’, all of those things. I mean, I really see the difference in people I've had in my team teams have been through, for instance, UK training contracts or who haven't, or haven't had that law firm experience. So it's a great foundation, but not feeling like you have to absolutely burn yourself out and hate it in a law firm or not succeed in a law firm to go down the in-house path. Cause there is that feeling of like, oh, and I've even had friends who are partners in law firms say to me, ‘so do you sit there all day and just instruct law firms’? And I had to sarcastically say, ‘yeah, that's right. Yeah’.
Scott Brown (24:55):
Yes. That's what I do.
Sarah Marshall (24:56):
Jamie Pearson (24:57):
Sarah Marshall (24:57):
Goodness. I mean, just the level of like Jamie was talking about customer service and accountability, that's necessary to do the role well, but that you want to do. You're engaged because you're part of the team in a different way in that in house environment. So I would love it that people would see the profession more broadly, right? Where can I, where can I be successful in the world as a lawyer, as a lawyer and a law firm, a lawyer and a company, a lawyer in a government or an NGO, a non-lawyer with this amazing education and background and perspective on the world and high sense of drive and achievement. No doubt if you've been through legal education, particularly these days.
Scott Brown (25:38):
Yeah, absolutely. Where do you think that starts though? Where can those conversations start?
Jamie Pearson (25:50):
Well, I was gonna say, I think there's a piece there about educating people about what's possible. And so part some of the high five bits that we've put out, sort of concentrate on how you can change sector. It's, it's a myth that you can't, it's, it's a challenge, but you can do it. I'd say the same thing about working in a different country. You know, you, it's a myth that you have to be qualified in that country to work in it actually a lot of brilliant lawyers who work in a given country. So for example, South Korea, they may not be qualified in South Korea. It doesn't matter actually a lack of qualification that jurisdiction, as long as that they have owed lawyers, awareness of potential concerns and they, they have recourse to outside council where they need to check or colleague who is qualified means that they've totally set up for success there.
Jamie Pearson (26:46):
So I think there's a number of myths spinning around in-house arena that people need to be circumspect about. And lawyers ought to be good at that because if you ever been with a bunch of lawyers at a social gathering, you know, that arguments can quickly develop about whether something, someone is factually right or not. Yeah. But I think, because we're so maybe because we're exhausted by the job or maybe because we, we just think that it's our job to respond to everything that's sent us and just be brilliant to everything. I think sometimes lawyers, aren't very good at working out what do I want and how can I make this better? Mm-Hmm <affirmative>, that's a random answer, but I think there is something there.
Scott Brown (27:33):
Sarah Marshall (27:34):
Absolutely. I think there's something too around and, and maybe this is the next phase of one of our high fives or a series within the series of, you know, elevating or providing more information about the in-house path. And I think having people realize people who are early in the profession or maybe studying law, that it's not a, just how much legal work you do and what it means to be an in-house lawyer in different types of environments. I think that information just isn't available. I don't think it's probably not economic for in house legal teams to be recruiting at universities, but just providing information. And perhaps you do it at an above corporate kind of level through the law societies or bar associations to say like, this is a really viable career option and it's something that's really interesting and rewarding may have a better work life balance.
Sarah Marshall (28:30):
Mm-Hmm <affirmative> maybe yeah. Like not always. Yeah, but also, you know, and can be equally lucrative over the long term. If you, if you join the right kinds of companies is different ways of being paid and you know, we've both benefited quite a lot from equity over the years. And I, so I think just providing more information really at, at the right levels. And I think what we can do, people like us in the profession is share information about, you know, the level of expertise that we've gained over certain topics. Like I'm always trumpeting the market access expertise of my team, which is way more in depth than the law firms that we work with. Yeah. Cause we're doing it every single day.
Scott Brown (29:10):
Mm-Hmm <affirmative> yeah. Interesting. Yes. I think it's, I think as early, as early as possible for me as we're just to know, just to know the options and having mentors or role models and people that have that have been there and done it. And I think what the great thing about technology and platforms like LinkedIn enables us to share that information and, and give people a,
Jamie Pearson (29:34):
And like this as well, Scott, like your, your project with the podcast. I think that's, you know, I've listened few of them. There's some nuggets there that are really, really interesting and inspiring.
Scott Brown (29:45):
Yeah. And people are inspiring more than people are inspiring and hearing their hearing their stories. So that's, that was the, that, that is the sort of main drive behind this to see what what's an option. What was, what was that, what was that person's thought process and to show that everyone everyone's alike and like you should never feel out of place somewhere. I don't think it's not a, not a healthy position for anyone to, to be in and to be yourself at work is, is, is really important.
Sarah, you, you touched on lawyers moving into other or non-legal roles. Is that something you've seen a lot through your career?
Sarah Marshall (30:23):
I haven't seen that as much as I think we should see it. And I think that's partly, it's, there's a combination of reasons and you know, we can often, you know, blame the business and say, ‘why don't they see how brilliant we are and how we could basically do every job in this company except the science jobs’ mm-hmm <affirmative> and the numbers jobs of like case, but I think so, so that's why I've been focused in my teams on kind of trying to elevate the role of what we do and develop enterprise leaders early on who think more broadly. So I think it's, you know, on both sides showing the breadth of skills that lawyers have and not having people pigeon holed in that box of, you know, just answer a legal question or I'll come to you if I have a, a legal question.
Sarah Marshall (31:07):
And I have seen now that I'm part of a bigger company, I've seen a lot more cross pollination, if you like of lawyers taking on other senior leadership positions, you know, recently someone has taken on a general management role, which I think is incredible and I would be a great story to have on your podcast. I've seen a colleague who's the head of legal for international take on also human resources for international. So I think there's some creative thinking in some organizations, but I think bringing forth those stories and also having people think more broadly early on in their careers, you have to nail the legal stuff. But do you have a view on the business plans? Do you have a question that might be coming from a different perspective? And I think there's sometimes a, you know, a real tendency to put that warm blanket of your expertise around you and go to that comfort zone and kind of stop a few innovative projects from happening. When you're the lawyer in the room.
Scott Brown (32:11):
Yeah. You have to be interested. I think, I think the thing I've advised people that are looking to move into a non-legal role, a CEO position in a startup or something - it's really like, look at think of yourself as a good operator first, rather than as a lawyer. And how are you viewed within the business? You want to be viewed as a solid operator, someone who's got a good eye for detail, because you're coming from the legal background and a risk appetite to some extent, but it can also make those common sense decisions that you had that you touched on earlier. So I think there's definitely scope for within the right organizations for, for lawyers to transition.
With the high five series, at what point in your career did you think, ‘right, this is what I've been missing or I, I could have done with this’, because that takes that hindsight right? To realize what - you don't know what you don't know at some points in your career.
Jamie Pearson (33:15):
We kept on having the same conversation didn't we? Cause I see Sarah a few times every year we live in different countries, but we still might just catch, go for dinner. And we are just having the same frustrations verbalized in conversations where we would look back and think all of these phrases came out, it was quite trite phrases or overused phrases like trusted advisor and stuff. And it does have value and it has meaning, but but nobody ever really showed us what that meant. We had to work out for ourselves and we felt that we might have something to offer in that regard, in that we like helping other lawyers. And we like, we know now that we are, we are people managers, we like trying to improve the lot of individual team members, you know, and help them move in the direction they want to go.
Jamie Pearson (34:16):
So high five, I don't wanna characterize it as playing around. It's not, there's some serious messages in there, but it's our first toe in the water as to trying to gauge a level of interest more externally in tools or forums that will help in-house lawyers and maybe they'll help private practice lawyers as well. I don't know. Is trying to work out the, the level of interest and think right there will come a point soon where Sarah and I have to sit down and go ‘right, what are we gonna do next. What, what, what, what we gonna build onto this small little thing that we've created, that's gone down well’., Sarah, is that, is that how you see it?
Sarah Marshall (35:02):
Yeah. I mean, all of that I think has been a real catalyst to us realizing that it's probably not just, it's not that constructive just to have the conversation around the wine bottle as you've called it before. <Laugh> Jamie. Although I do love that by the yeah, no, I love it too. And it's long overdue. But I also think for me once I been, you know, more recently managing and leading teams, I've had the opportunity to put my own ideas into action. And so I had been off and pushing in traditional teams. Why don't we think about this this way or do things differently. And for a while, just thought that my ideas were probably a bit rubbish, but it was just that I was, you know, working with different people. So having the opportunity to put some of my own ideas into practice, with mixed results by the way, you know, not yeah.
Jamie Pearson (35:52):
Yeah, but successful ones.
Sarah Marshall (35:53):
Yeah, for sure, for sure. And learning along the way. And I think you know, that's been really fun and just trying to think differently about how am I building a team and helping those people to build their careers and building a team within an organization that can have, you know, real impact and in our industry for the patients that we serve, like how do we contribute to that? So I think I think it's partly, it's, it's all of those things. We just time to put pen to paper about
Jamie Pearson (36:23):
Jamie. Yeah. Yeah.
Scott Brown (36:25):
And it's in the format is so it's five tips on each high five.
Jamie Pearson (36:32):
It is. And we cleverly made them all start with the same letter of the alphabet. Scott, if you notice that
Scott Brown (36:38):
I didn't, I didn't pick that up. Yeah, I should, I should have that laser eye thats,
Jamie Pearson (36:42):
Not a key thing.
Scott Brown (36:43):
<Laugh> excellent. And, and outside of, so outside of, outside of working, so Sarah you're in, you're in Switzerland, you were saying, and you've, you've recently moved to a ski resort. So, or somewhere, somewhere where you're on there. Yeah. In a nice, a nice area anyway. <Laugh>
Sarah Marshall (37:03):
Yeah. I, I am very, very lucky indeed, but I have been that I've been able to sort of make the switch between working and living in the city during the, and spending the weekends in the mountains to the other way around. So spending most of the time in the, and you know, obviously I'm an incredibly fortunate position to be able to do that, but I think the whole COVID experience just kind of accelerated that move, move towards a different way of living. I don't wanna call it work-life balance, but I think, you know, being able to do that is an incredible gift because I'm in an environment that really grounds me. So I've, you know, recently had a discussion with somebody who said, you know, how do you build your resilience? And I said, I just, well, I just walk out the door and I'm, you know, I'm in the mountains. And even though I'm also energized by cities, I think I'm just able to, you know, get my head into a different space immediately. But it's not to say that that wouldn't have been possible earlier in my career. But I think for me it took the catalyst of the pandemic to do that. But I think it's a bit of another example of, you know, things that give you that agency to say, you know, ‘I wanna live here, I wanna do this kind of work. And how am I gonna make that happen’? Yeah.
Scott Brown (38:25):
Nice. What about you, Jamie. How do you unwind?
Jamie Pearson (38:31):
I am a motorbike fanatic and I love, I try and get out on the motorbike once a week, usually on a Sunday and I usually end up riding far more miles than I, I should sensibly do. Last time I did that. I rode 600 miles, which is a bit, bit much in one day, but I really, I really like it. And, and where I live – Bristol - it's very easy to get out into some very beautiful roads, twisty, rural roads in Wales that are very lovely surface on them. And I, I, I unwind doing that. It really helps me switch off. Cause when you're riding a motorbike, well you are concentrating on all the signals that, well, it's a bit like Sarah's great interest and outside work skiing, you're concentrating all the signals that the bike and the road and the weather are giving you. And it's, I find that really helpful. I, I really, it's a really good to just forget about everything else and concentrate on something in the moment.
Scott Brown (39:32):
Yeah. There's not many opportunities I find to just switch off and focus on one thing I I'm the same with exercise is my thing, but where you're just for an hour or however long, just - that's it. You don't have, you're not thinking about the kids or work or anything that any of your other, any of your other things it's almost meditative. I think to, to do it, but awesome. And I've been asking everyone and I think I'm throwing this on, on you guys, but I've been, I've been asking everyone on the series for an item, a person <laugh> or something from the legal profession that they would throw into Room 101. If they were given the, if they were given the choice.
Speaker 4 (40:24):
Sarah Marshall (40:25):
This is something you wanna get rid of. Right? This is
Scott Brown (40:28):
You can have one each <laugh>
Jamie Pearson (40:31):
Scott Brown (40:33):
A habit or I don't
Sarah Marshall (40:34):
Should be a person.
Scott Brown (40:36):
No, nobody's nobody's nobody is gone in yet. It's not been, not been a person yet, but yeah.
Jamie Pearson (40:41):
I'll tell you what I throw into it. Should I go first Sarah?
Sarah Marshall (40:44):
Yeah, please do. Yeah.
Jamie Pearson (40:47):
Well, it's kind of been thrown in already, but I spent at least five years of my career wearing suits, shirts and ties mm-hmm <affirmative> and I hated it. I am most comfortable standing up now, most comfortable in Levis and this is quite smart for me, but I just, I have a fundamental issue with, I understand how smart and beautiful clothes make you perhaps perform better if you're certain type of person or give off a certain appearance. But I like being at the coal face in the, the weeds, working out, you know, answers to things. And I did not find my suit and tie conducive to that. I, I hated them very much. So I put those in
Sarah Marshall (41:34):
Scott Brown (41:34):
Good one. I'd yeah, join you. I don't, I don't, I really don't understand the point of a tie. I keep meaning to Google it actually, where they came from <laugh>
Sarah Marshall (41:49):
I'm gonna throw a boring one in, but I do think that this something that's important, like law firm, time sheets, I mean, what an incredible waste of everybody's time - pun intended and achieved. But I I also think that there just needs to be more of a, a mindset change on the business model of law firms and how they engage with folks like us. And so time sheets and the concept of billing for time is, is just completely outdated in terms of
Jamie Pearson (42:18):
Sarah Marshall (42:19):
You know, the value added and the, the level of partnership that's actually needed. And very few law firms do that well. And I think there's a real opportunity for the best ones to, to take a look at how and house lawyers do their jobs and to have that level of understanding. So I think they're well versed with the issues that we face from a legal perspective, but not how that fits into the corporate context and what the lawyer's role is in that company enterprise and the decision making processes that go in. So, you know, we'd probably be open to working with law firms to help them understand that. And I think it's a real point of differentiation and that starts with burning all the time sheets and banning the word time sheet. Yeah. For
Scott Brown (43:06):
<Laugh> into room one. Oh one. Good. Sounds good. Have you have either of you seen any, anything that broke them mold on billing versus a time sheet,
Jamie Pearson (43:16):
Some attempts, but nothing really.
Sarah Marshall (43:20):
Yeah, just around the edges, you know, interesting ideas, but still having a core of like, you know, we really wanna be paid for all the time that's spent by anyone and the entire firm. And so I think when you have really huge matters that are going into the tens of millions, you start to get some bargaining power. But when you have the, you know, the smaller matters where there's, you know, a lot of learning on the law firm side, I think there should be some more flexibility there. I think in Europe, the law firms are better at the secondments. They are more cost effective, but those are prohibitively expensive them in the us. And given how insightful they are to, you know where there is actual work that could go out to the firms.
Jamie Pearson (44:05):
There's some great new law firms out there, but I still think they haven't, or we haven't seen the, the thorough embrace of the of the fixed fee.
Scott Brown (44:16):
Yeah. So more project managers integrated, I think within the firm to, to matter manage.
Sarah Marshall (44:25):
I, I went so a few years ago, this concept of not a success fee because it was a corporate project, but an idea that there was a discretionary amount that we could choose to pay or not on top of, you know time bills at a reasonable, but not amazing discount
Scott Brown (44:45):
Need a suit and tie back on!
Sarah Marshall (44:46):
But in the end we decided not to pay it because there'd been of course. But, but there'd been so much time incurred. And the law firm was really disappointed. And so it wasn't really, it was supposed to be something completely at our option. And I think it was just, it was a nice idea, but practically they, I think they'd been calculating their returns based on receiving it. Yeah. So I kind of had the relationship to be honest, honest
Scott Brown (45:15):
<Laugh> right. Yeah. Interesting. Hadn't heard, I haven't heard that before, but yeah, like Jimmy said a tip or... An element of the element of being bought into the success, I think is important, because all other like corporate finance teams, corporate corporate finance, like investment banks, et cetera. So on success, I guess their, their fee, their fees tend to be higher, but, or it's a bigger, a bigger percentage, but
Sarah Marshall (45:38):
Really understanding who your client is. Like, I, I've got a lot of law firms working with me and they, they wanna bypass me and talk to the business people, man, not interested in talking to law firms, I'm struggling to get time with these business people. You know, I'm controlling the budget. You know, how about a bit more insight into what my role is?
Scott Brown (45:59):
Jamie Pearson (46:00):
There is a space for senior people in law firms to come and work with us for a week, you know, not, not to do our work for us or to add value, just come and observe, come and see what our life is like. It's super fun! Some of them might be left thinking, gosh, that's a bit more fun than what I do, but I think what part of what you're saying, Sarah, is that they don't fully understand the kind of environment that we work in. And that's something that needs to change somehow. I,
Sarah Marshall (46:34):
I think it would be, it's a great opportunity for, you know, that some of these newer firms who are really focused on particular sectors and boutique firms and that to really make a point of differentiation.
Jamie Pearson (46:46):
Scott Brown (46:49):
Well thank you. Thank you both so much for your, your time and joining me today. That was at first, at first for me with with two guests, but it's been, been a pleasure speaking
Scott Brown (OUTRO):
And that’s a wrap for season 3 of Lessons I Learned in Law. Been an amazing series – some fantastic guests, and amazing lessons that they’ve learned in law. Thank you to all of our guests who’ve taken part this series – it’s been fantastic - and thank you for listening.
If there’s a subject or someone that you’d like to hear more from, please get in touch. Our inbox is always open – it’s at email@example.com or connect with me or drop me a message on LinkedIn.
Also if you enjoyed listening please rate and review the podcast – that’s how we know that there’s people out there listening and enjoying what we’re doing and will encourage us to do more.
And if you’d like to find out more about Heriot Brown head over to heriotbrown.com. Until next time, I’m Scott Brown, thanks for listening.