Talking Heads Interview
Interviewer: Clare Butler, Laurence Simons (London, UK)
Interviewee: Tim Stow, Shire (Zug, Switzerland)
1. Tell me about the moment you decided to be a lawyer?
There was no vocational, ‘aha’ moment. I took my time. I got my law degree, then went to Law School and actually secured articles with a well-known city firm fairly late in the day. My ‘decision’ to become a lawyer evolved over a period of time, and once I realized I wasn’t going to become a footballer.
2. When were you most challenged as a lawyer and how did you overcome it?
Working ‘all-nighters’ as a young corporate lawyer. Lawyering was as much about energy levels and marathon focus, as intellectual endeavour. I realised looking after yourself – basically being fit - was as important a part of your armoury as anything else. I have never really lost sight of that.
3. Looking back on your career, what are you most proud of?
Converting the dream of working as a senior lawyer in a company into reality. My role at Shire is, in many respects, the ‘perfect’ in-house role. Working as an integrated member of a significant growth business, managing talented and motivated lawyers around the Shire world. I pinch myself and appreciate my good luck every day.
4. What advice would you give to your younger self?
Stay in a law firm for a while longer if you can. Building a genuine skillset and expertise will always stand you in good stead.
5. How do you deal with stress whether personal or professional?
Go for a run - preferably on or near a beach. Immersing myself in watching the different sports I love is also a great stress reliever.
6. Are there tools or techniques that have made you more productive?
• Get up early and be ahead of the game. You cannot turn your business colleagues away and the reality is that the bulk of the business day you are with them. So anything you need to do, do before the day really gets started.
• There is absolutely no substitute for good preparation - the night before or whenever. It will almost always make the difference.
• Don’t believe that high achievers can do things ‘effortlessly’. They work just as hard behind the scenes, very probably more so.
7. What is the biggest challenge facing lawyers in the next 5 years?
In an in-house context, continuing to make ourselves relevant to the businesses that we support. The ‘value added’ has to be there, otherwise we may as well pack up and go home and leave everything to the law firms.
8. What is one growth area/rising trend in the legal profession and why?
Lawyers with genuine digital expertise will not be bored in the coming years.
9. Best location you’ve ever worked?
Philadelphia - where I lived and worked for SB/GSK for several years. Although having lawyered two deals there, San Diego runs it close.