Jonathan Hambleton sits on the management board of national law firm Freeths, is the joint head of its national Corporate Team and the Managing Partner of its Milton Keynes office. Here, he shares what a typical week in his working life is all about.
My alarm goes off at 5:30am and I start the day walking the dogs, or occasionally mucking out my daughter’s horse (life lesson: never agree to your children having a horse). By 8am, I’m at my desk in the home office. Monday mornings are important to me because they allow me to plan my week. I am never quite sure what might arise in a ‘typical’ week so I begin by pulling together a list of my priorities to focus on the key things I want to get done for my clients and colleagues.
We have embraced an agile working culture across all 12 Freeths offices but, without fail, the senior staff in Milton Keynes meet on a Monday morning to share what they are working on. Today, I am attending by video link and there is a mixture of people at home and in our offices amongst the other attendees.
This morning, while discussing the final plans to host a quiz to bring together members of the local business community, I am amused by the outbreak of competitiveness and the need to remind ourselves that the aim of the event is to raise money for our chosen local charity (and not to win or try to show how clever we are).
The rest of the day flies by. I try to be out with the dogs again before 7pm.
In the morning, the Corporate team comes together in our Milton Keynes office and I check in with them on priorities and challenges. The biggest challenge now is handling a demanding workload, with Freeths’ turnover topping £100m. We are an incredibly busy office and part of my role is ensuring that we are using the expertise and capacity of our other 500-plus lawyers in offices across the country to make sure nobody is overloaded and that our clients have access to the very best expertise and experience the very highest standard of service.
We are based in Knowlhill and I take a stroll around the Teardrop Lakes at lunchtime—my quiet thinking time. I have worked in Milton Keynes for my firm for coming up to 30 years now and still think it’s a great place to be. I like to take a break for some exercise and quiet thinking during the working day, it gives me energy for the rest of the day. I am often lucky enough to catch sight of a heron fishing for its lunch before heading back to the office.
Like the rest of the firm, I tune into the launch of our Diversity and Inclusion Pledge in the afternoon, which is at the heart of our recruitment, employment, promotion and training. I feel more than a little pride and excitement to learn about the initiatives already under way and the commitment to do even more. Feeling inspired, I approve plans to offer a legal scholarship to three students from local MK schools, under which Freeths offer both financial support and work experience. It is very important to me that careers in the law are open to all members of our community.
My day starts with a journey by train to Nottingham to attend a board strategy day and I take the chance to catch up on background reading – today a quick look at the online papers, check on who Northampton Saints are playing at the weekend and then into an article on the changing demographics of the legal profession – the majority of lawyers under the age of 30 in Freeths are female. The strategy day is attended by Freeths’ national Manager Partner, our Senior Partner, our Chairman and, like me, those elected to sit on the board. The quality of our people is a large part of our success as a top 50 UK law firm, so discussing the results of our national staff survey about working practices is top of our agenda. I study the feedback carefully but have also sought out colleagues to hear their views first-hand. It’s so important to me that every one of our colleagues enjoys their work and feels supported.
I am not surprised that staff overwhelmingly want to work from home and in the office in a hybrid mixture because many have mentioned the importance of retaining the firm’s collaborative culture.
I make a note of the key messages from the day to share with my colleagues in Milton Keynes and leave feeling proud of the progress the firm has made and excited for the next stage.
It’s another exciting day and we’ve invited colleagues to MK Gallery to enjoy some artistic team building. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of attempting my self-portrait with charcoal albeit that the final result is winning no prizes. There is as much laughter on show as artistic talent and it was lovely to spend some time doing something different with colleagues. It’s wonderful to see how proud they are of their portraits and sharing images on social media.
Today Freeths’ Operations Board held their monthly meeting in our office. It isn’t until the afternoon, so I spent the morning reviewing and supporting the work currently being done by the junior members of my team. This is quickly followed by doing an online training session for the 75 members of the corporate department across all our offices. We then enjoy the opportunity for staff in Milton Keynes to catch up with the board members over a buffet lunch.
Later in the afternoon, I do a last check of my list and, happily, notice that only one task is remaining. I approve the proposed
fancy new coffee machine being suggested for the Milton Keynes office! Back at home and yes – I am out with the dogs again to complete the week.
Contact Freeths in Milton Keynes on 01908 668555