Michael Gallimore is a partner at law firm Hogan Lovells, specialising in planning, environmental and local government work.
He advises on the planning and environmental aspects of major development and infrastructure projects including mixed-use development and regeneration schemes, new housing settlements, office and business park developments, retail and leisure proposals and waste management schemes.
Q. What are your objectives in your job and how are you measured on them?
A. For my clients, it is providing a highly responsive service focused on helping them achieve their commercial objectives. For the firm, I constantly strive to win instructions on the most demanding, complex and high profile projects. For my team, it is about giving people the opportunity to widen their experience, take on responsibility and develop as lawyers.
The measurements of success are whether our existing clients are happy, whether we are securing new clients and projects and whether the team is motivated and enjoying their work. Doing all of this at a reasonable profit helps – after all, we are running a business.
We have formal appraisals on a rolling system which take place broadly every two years. That is a wide assessment of performance conducted by the management. It is a “360 degree” process – initially by those who work for us, the results of which feed back through to a formal appraisal process. We don’t have a formal ticklist of targets but we do have personal development plans which are reviewed.
Q. What are the three key lessons you have learnt in your career
A. Treat people as you would wish to be treated yourself – whatever their role or status. It is partly courtesy and partly valuing the people you work with internally or externally. Everyone has an important role in any business organisation whether it is the chief executive or people providing refreshments into conference rooms. The firm is a series of links that make the whole.
Give clients advice which is clear, concise and practical – and avoid jargon. Certain lawyers have a reputation for being a bit long-winded and will take several sentences to take something that can be said in one sentence. Clients just want the answer, not the thought processes that got you there.
Have the courage to admit when you don’t know the answer to a question – but make sure you find it out pretty damn quickly. Planning law has got more complicated and sophisticated. It is much better to say to a client that you will have to check something rather than pretending you know the answer and having to go back later and admit you were wrong.