Find out more about the people behind the advice in this new series of interviews with our solicitors. We catch up with Ian Carson, our dispute resolution partner, who tells us about his law journey and why being part of the Harper James family matters to him.
How long have you worked at Harper James?
I’ve been with the firm for three and a half years.
What inspired you to practise law in the first place? Tell us about your legal career so far
The intellectual challenge of problem solving and applying legal knowledge to practical issues is what prompted me to study law at university. My career has been varied: I trained at Herbert Smith Freehills and worked there for nine years post-qualification. I was working on large-scale litigation, high-value work. It was a great start to my career: exciting, glamorous, frequent international travel. I moved to PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal to head up the litigation team, then joined Tollers in Northampton, working for SMEs and private individuals. The commute to Northampton from where I am based in Leamington was still further than I wanted to travel. I was introduced to Harper James, and the rest is history, as they say. I have always dealt with a broad range of commercial disputes and advised clients from private individuals to FTSE 100 companies.
How does working with Harper James compare with other firms you have worked at?
The main difference is that we can focus on doing the legal work. We aren’t slowed down by management responsibilities, admin or the bureaucracy that senior lawyers in other firms deal with. I see the team at Harper James as a group of equals. It’s not hierarchical at all and we take a collaborative approach to work. The autonomy and flexibility within the practice is totally different to anything else I’ve known.
Define dispute resolution in a sentence
It’s resolving disputes ahead of litigation. Dispute resolution lawyers use the civil litigation process to find a satisfactory resolution, including the mediation and alternative dispute resolution framework.
What’s the best piece of dispute resolution advice you could give a business?
Be realistic and objective about the dispute and focus on a commercially pragmatic solution.
What has been the proudest moment at Harper James/of your career so far?
I have worked on big interesting cases during my career, but my highlight is being an integral part of a team of peers within Harper James. The people are great, we get along and work well together. Being recognised within the Harper James family is important to me.
What do you do to unwind?
I play tennis and enjoy gardening, cycling and hiking.
Tell us a prediction for your practice area in 2020 or beyond
We must take account of the COVID-19 disruption and I think there will be more dispute work around once the initial health crisis has passed. People will have to deal with contentious issues relating to contracts, payments and delivery etc. There will be a call for litigators to advise on how to deal with the consequences of COVID disruption. Regarding Brexit, commercial relationships will also be subject to the as yet unknown complications from the Brexit trade deal – or lack of it.
What advice would you give regarding the challenges businesses will be facing from the COVID-19 outbreak?
Take advice to understand your rights and legal obligations. Look for a compromise with the other side and find a sensible middle ground with flexibility, without rolling over.