The Hot 100 career quiz: Travers Smith partner Polly Richard – The Lawyer

The billable hour system is when a lawyer records how they spend every minute of their working day to calculate how they bill the client. It used to be the most common method of charging a client for the work of a lawyer. Different bands of lawyers at different firms cost different amounts and clients […]
Allen & Overy has created a special bonus for associates in its leveraged finance practice, in a move to ensure competitiveness with US firms in the City.
How much can a barrister realistically expect to earn?
Linklaters lawyer and social media influencer Eve Cornwell has left the magic circle firm’s associate ranks and taken on a new role in its tech group. Cornwell, who has amassed over 374,000 YouTube subscribers, shot to fame among the legal student community after documenting her journey through university, law school and then as a Linklaters […]
“In everything we do in our professional lives we should put our own personal wellbeing, professional integrity and reputation first, the firm’s interests second, and the clients’ third”.
Name: Polly Richard
Organisation: Travers Smith
Role: Partner
Based: London
Trained at: Travers Smith
Year qualified: 2011
Read her Hot 100 profile
What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?
I had only been at the firm a few weeks and hadn’t yet worked out the do’s and don’ts of office life. Like any new trainee, I was desperate to make a good impression. I woke up one Monday morning and couldn’t stand up with stomach pain. Embarrassed that I might’ve eaten a dodgy prawn and not wanting to look “weak” in my first seat, I came into work anyway. My roommate took one look at me and told me to “get checked out”. I dutifully abided and said I’d be back asap.
I was new to London, hadn’t registered with a GP yet and didn’t know where the nearest hospital was (or that the firm provided private medical care) so got the central line to a drop-in centre at Liverpool Street. They sent me to Whitechapel hospital – I took the tube doubled over in pain…! After being screened at Whitechapel they immediately gave me morphine and got me in a theatre gown ready to have my appendix out. I suddenly panicked that I hadn’t told anyone where I was (this was pre-Blackberry days). So doped up on Morphine I attempted to call my then supervising partner (who happened to be very senior at the firm). In a dozy state I just about managed to spit out that I was at hospital and hung up.
Unbeknown to me at the time, that partner (who’d only known me for a matter of weeks) was really worried about me. From our first few encounters he’d managed to ascertain that I lived with my boyfriend “David” who worked at Deloitte. He then spent the rest of the afternoon attempting to track down a “David” at Deloitte … (there were hundreds!)
I look back at that situation in horror. Your health should always be your number one priority.
What is the thing in your professional career that has terrified you or taken you out of your comfort zone the most?
Returning to work (or rather, the build up to returning to work) after my first maternity leave is definitely up there as being one of the most terrifying moments in my career. I was a senior associate in the thick of a very big case when I went on maternity leave. Overnight I replaced working life with looking after a tiny human. Conversations shifted from how many witnesses we were going to call at trial to how many naps / dirty nappies baby had done on a given day.
Instead of long days in the office, my daily activities now involved sitting on (cold) floors attending my 100th baby class and hanging out with new “mum” friends in any coffee shop big enough to house a plethora of enormous prams. I couldn’t begin to contemplate how I could merge my working life with my new family life.
The thought of “the big return” invoked a Pandora’s box of conflicting emotions. How would childcare work? What if I can’t actually do the work (is “baby brain” an actual thing?)? Do I even want to go back (because while it doesn’t sound glamorous, I actually really enjoyed maternity leave)? Will I miss my child too much (he was – and still is – very cute)? Will I be “passed over” at work?
While the transition wasn’t easy, it turns out I’d completely catastrophised my return (typical litigator). There were many positives to returning to work: regaining mental stimulation, re-establishing my identity outside of the parenting domain, reconnecting with my work colleagues and I enjoyed the “buzz” and social interaction that came with being at work.
So positive was the actual experience, I did it all again a few years later (this time, minus the “big return build up”)!
What is the wisest thing anyone ever said to you (and who said it)?
I have received many words of wisdom in my career but two pieces in particular stand out.
The first piece dates back to my first seat as a trainee at Travers. My then supervisor (Phil Sanderson, our ex-head of private equity) said to me in my review “Be you. Be Polly” That might sound really obvious or trivial but it made a huge impact on me at what was a very influential point in my career. What I took from that was that my difference (in background) was a strength and not a weakness. That really stuck. It encouraged me to be my true self and only by doing so have I been able lead a happy professional life.
The second was more recently from Stephen Paget-Brown who used to head up the disputes practice at Travers (spearheading the changes that have helped to bring us to where we are today). He said: “In everything we do in our professional lives we should put our own personal wellbeing, professional integrity and reputation first, the firm’s interests second, and the clients’ third“. Our tendency is to have this the reverse way round.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?
This job is a marathon not a sprint and you cannot sprint a marathon.
Don’t let the job consume you. Maintain outside interests. Keeping a balance in your life is absolutely crucial to longevity.
Do you! Don’t pretend to be anything you’re not.
What’s your best friend from law school doing now?
She works in-house at Sony Music. She’s based within one of Sony’s labels and is responsible for all legal and business affairs relating to the artists on their roster including drafting recording agreements for new signings and branding deals. It’s fair to say her role is more of a conversation starter at a dinner party than mine!
 
Today, The Lawyer unveils its Hot 100 2023, celebrating the successes of those working within the industry over the past 12 months. Featuring the crème de la crème of the legal world, The Lawyer Hot 100 highlights this year’s dealmakers, the litigators who are riding high after trial glory and the most sought-after names in the world of competition, […]
Dentons’ UK real estate head is leaving the firm after five years to join DWF in a new leadership role. Deepa Deb joins DWF’s real estate team as its global head of development and investment, having spent five years with Dentons. She was promoted as Dentons UK real estate head in 2020 after the retirement […]
Pinsent Masons’ chief operating officer (COO) is expected to stand down at the end of the current financial year. Alastair Mitchell has spent more than seven years at the firm. He previously served as COO at HFW for four years and was the COO at Linklaters for five years before that. Last year, the firm’s […]
The legal services framework for Local Government Pension Services (LGPS) has finalised its new panel, with 12 law firms having been appointed. The firms that have made the cut are: Addleshaw Goddard, Anthony Collins Solicitors, Brodies, Burges Salmon, Burness Paull, Cleveland & Co, Eversheds Sutherland, Freeths, Gowling WLG, Osborne Clarke, Pinsent Masons and Squire Patton […]
The Ince Group is now majority owned by external shareholders, with just 8.1 per cent of the equity retained by the firm’s partnership, new documents have revealed. When it first listed in 2017, a year prior to its pre-pack acquisition of legacy Ince & Co, Gordon Dadds raised £20m through an accelerated bookbuild placing of […]
This report contains: an overview of the legal market in Iberia The Lawyer’s new data interaction tool that allows users to drill down into financial and headcount metrics and compare firms an analysis of the future challenges and opportunities for firms in Iberia.
This report contains: an analysis of five issues that will give the legal market in the City pause for thought in 2023
This report contains: an analysis of five issues that will give the European Legal market pause for thought in 2023.
an analysis of five issues that will give the Disputes Legal market pause for thought in 2023.
This report contains: an analysis of four issues that will give the UK Legal market pause for thought in 2023
Make your next move with The Lawyer Careers. Search and apply for thousands of vacancies, or receive email alerts for new roles when they go live. Whether you're looking at private practice, in-house legal or an exciting business support role, you'll find your future here.
Some of the most enjoyable phonecalls our journalists make during the year are the ones telling people that they’re in The Lawyer’s Hot 100. The individuals can be rising stars making their mark, as well as established names who are at the top of their game. You’ll be able to see the full list later […]
Once considered one of America’s elite firms, Shearman has lost its air of exclusivity
As the international firms continue to pile into Dublin apace, one of Europe’s hottest talent markets shows no sign of cooling
Faced with under-pressure revenues and heightened costs, many firms will have empathy for the Ince Group.
The 20-somethings now entering the workforce want more than just work-life balance
It’s a longer road to partnership at Hogan Lovells but figures show it’s worth it
The Lawyer Podcast is back for 2023. In the first episode of the year, The Lawyer’s editor Catrin Griffiths and litigation editor Christian Smith are joined by deputy editor (City) Rachel Moloney to discuss all the rumours surrounding Hogan Lovells’ merger talks with Shearman & Sterling. We also speak to Hill Dickinson partner Jessica Neary […]
Goodwin Procter has snapped up a private equity and investment funds partner from Kirkland & Ellis. Jacqueline Eaves has spent nearly four years as a partner at the US firm, where she focused on advising private investment funds on a range of complex business transactions in the secondary market. Before joining Kirkland, Eaves spent four […]
The lateral hiring market is in full swing at the start of this year, with a White & Case partner the latest to leave for a role at Clifford Chance. Clifford Chance is bulking up its US securities and high yield capabilities by recruiting Jill Concannon Christie, who is making the move after having spent […]
The firm has hired Freshfields partner Andrew Hagan and White & Case partner Gilles Teerlinck.
Addleshaw Goddard and Linklaters have led on the €260m acquisition of a dark rum brand by drinks giant Diageo. Diageo worked with longstanding external adviser Addleshaws, which fielded a team led out of Leeds by partner James Tatro. The lead associate on the deal was Rebecca Sabin, also based in the Northern city. She has […]
Linklaters is to lose another one of its corporate stars, this time to Weil Gotshal & Manges. Sarah Flaherty is leaving the magic circle firm to join one of her former colleagues, David Avery-Gee who now heads Weil’s M&A practice in London. Flaherty became a partner at Linklaters in 2020, during which time she was […]
You must be to post a comment.
Access breaking news, comment and unrivalled data-rich analysis about the stories happening in the legal market by subscribing to The Lawyer today.
Thelawyer.com Limited
Registered in England and Wales with number 11491880
Registered office at Floor M, 10 York Road, London, SE1 7ND
The Lawyer has updated security and added new features that can’t run on this version of Internet Explorer in accordance with Microsoft’s end of life notice for Internet Explorer 11.
Our digital products are fully compatible with all modern internet browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge and more. You will need to access The Lawyer in one of these.
If this message continues to display, please check your system settings and change your default browser or contact your IT team.

source

Leave a Comment