Find out more about the people behind the advice in this series of interviews with our solicitors. In this piece Simon Smith, dispute resolution solicitor, discusses his career where he has dealt with a wide range of commercial, civil and property cases.
How long have you worked at Harper James?
Since June 2018.
What inspired you to practise law in the first place? Tell us about your legal career so far?
I chose law because I thought it would be interesting. Then, I drifted into a training contract and qualified at a High Street firm an after a couple of years moved to Irwin Mitchell covering Commercial and Property Litigation. 9 years later I moved to Levi Solicitors as a Partner. In 2008, I moved back to Sheffield to Ironmonger Curtis, a niche commercial practice in Sheffield to create and develop a litigation department. Around ten years later, I felt that I had ticked all the boxes in private practice and took the decision to move into freelance and consultancy work. It was the right decision. I would not go back – I enjoy the autonomy and flexibility.
How does working with Harper James compare with other firms you have worked at?
It is not like anywhere else that I have worked, in the sense that we have such a flexible remote working model. The team are great, people are very relaxed, and you are left to get on with the work and provide a good service to clients. It is a far more pleasant working environment.
Define Dispute Resolution in a sentence
Solving client’s problems and providing a solution.
What’s the best piece of Dispute Resolution advice you could give a business?
Be prepared, make sure that your contracts are tightly drafted, and you have your paperwork in order and documents retained.
What has been the proudest moment at Harper James/of your career so far?
I represented a small company that specialised in underwater explorations. They were being sued by a very well-known worldwide organisation for £200k and they needed to settle the case quickly to get further investment. In three weeks, we reached a settlement of £40,000 which is record speed in the litigation world! Some cases can go on for years. The client was delighted, and they sent me a case of wine!
What do you do to unwind?
I play squash and enjoy a pub lunch and walk with the family.
Tell us a prediction for your practice area in the future
There will certainly be more disputes arising out of the pandemic as there are plenty of commercial contracts that can’t/won’t be performed. This will impact the court system massively and cause significant delays if issues can’t be resolved through negotiation/mediation.