Tony Angel – How are lawyers viewed by the outside world?
This week we were joined by Tony Angel, one of the few lawyers to move out, and then back into the profession.
In the period between running Linklaters and DLA, he held executive board roles in both Standard & Poor’s and Vantage Diagnostics. While at Linklaters, he also spent 8 years as a trustee of the Cystic Fibrosis trust. Here is a summary of what he had to share with us, in particular how lawyers’ commercial skills are viewed by the outside world.
Summary of Tony Angel Event – Thursday, March 12, 2015
Having joined Linklaters in 1976, Tony became Managing partner in 1998 when he moved into full time management. In 2007, after serving two terms, he and his firm decided it was time for him to do something else. He was appointed as Executive Managing Director and Head of EMEA at Standard and Poor’s in 2008, just before the Lehman Brothers crash.
In 2010, having seen Standard and Poor’s through the global financial crisis, his role came to an end and he moved to a more plural existence.
In 2011 DLA asked him to return to the law as the Senior Partner at DLA Piper.
When he left Linklaters, he had been unclear what he would do next. He just knew he didn’t want to retire (he was 54 at this stage). He hadn’t put much thought into his future career other than taking on a few charitable roles which in hindsight proved much more important than he would have given credit too at the time.
He was given three sage pieces of advice from Janet Gaymer, the ex Senior Partner of Simmons and Simmons, when he started his search for a new role after leaving Linklaters. These were:
1. Write your CV without mentioning Linklaters (ie look forward not back and put your experience across in terms that will be recognised in the outside world)
2. Make sure you have an office base with support if possible
3. Set up your own website so people can actually find you (no longer so necessary with the advent of LinkedIn)
Tony’s approach to looking for a new job:
• He spoke to a number of the leading NED headhunters as possible (including Egon Zehnder, Spencer Stuart and Skill Capital – Private Equity specialists)
• He booked himself onto some courses eg. the Spencer Stuart 2 day course for new NEDs
• He joined the Institute of Directors, which provided him with the base he needed.
He had about four months after leaving Linklaters to think and then the unexpected Standard and Poor’s opportunity came up pretty quickly. It was a full time role.
CV Preparation for roles outside the profession
You need to illustrate your broad business experience and the ways in which you have helped your firm through for example:
• Sector expertise
• Ability to lead teams and manage people
• Change management
• International awareness – lawyers offer a great deal of international experience and are adept at working in different cultures
• More financial understanding than we are often given credit for
• Dispute resolution
You need to translate these skills into statements that show that “I did this to achieve that as evidenced by this”
Advice to mid-career partners
It will be helpful if you can find some external experience during your career. The more things you can do (even if relatively small) the better your experience will be when you want to start looking for NED roles, later on, ie:
• School Governor
• Charity Trustee
• Health Service Committee
It all gives you market credibility and experience and you start to overcome all the well-known preconceptions of lawyers being risk averse and task focused. If you can add a financial aspect by serving on an Finance & Audit Committee so much the better
• Not many NED roles come up each year in FTSE 350 companies. Perhaps 500-700 per year at most. Often the most interesting opportunities are found in more modest sized companies
• Advisory roles (particularly for non-UK organisations)
• Privately held companies
• Private Equity – often looking for people with relevant experience
• Be aware of the pros and cons of taking on a NED role
• You lose control of your own time
• You give advice but have no control over whether it is implemented or not
• The range of quality of the talent in you find in different organisations is much broader (Lawyers are used to being surrounded by high calibre people)
When Tony left S&P and moved in to a more plural career, he now realises that serendipity played a large part.
You need to be patient – it can take 6 months before people even to begin to realise you are looking …. tell your network what you are looking for!
In retrospect Tony feels his approach was not well thought out. In particular he would probably have done more due diligence !