Zero to 140 – the law’s fastest interview


This is the law’s fastest cross-examination. The respondent has to post an answer between zero and 140 characters. Today’s interviewee is the exciting corporate lawyer, Tim Summers of Temple Bright law practice.

Temple Bright is made up of a fascinating bunch of lawyers who’re really shaking up the market and reimagining how legal services can be delivered. We’re really excited to speak with Tim.

Brian John Spencer: What are you up to right now?

Tim Summers: Run off my feet with a combination of client work and the fuss generated by the launch of a new office. We opened in London on Monday.

BJS: Why and where did you choose to read law?

TS: I read English in fact, at University College London. The law conversion was a bit of an afterthought. I’ve grown more passionate since.

BJS: What does the law mean to you?

TS: For a commercial lawyer it’s a great way of helping dynamic people to achieve their goals, wearing your expertise lightly.

BJS: Your greatest success in the industry to date?

TS: Temple Bright has grown fast in a recession. In 3 years we’ve gone from 3 to 15 partners in Bristol and now we’re in London too.

BJS: Thoughts on the current state of the UK legal economy?

TS: The recession has made clients more questioning of how lawyers operate, but this has merely accelerated what was happening already.

BJS: What are your specific concerns and challenges?

TS: Growing quickly enough to manage the work, with lawyers good enough to sustain the brand we’ve developed. We’ve succeeded so far.

BJS: Where does technology come into your practice?

TS: We outsource back office functions to online providers and we pass on the benefits to our clients – we are less expensive and more efficient.

BJS: You’ve got a unique business model. Care to explain in a few words?

TS: The chambers practice is a solicitors firm set up like a barristers chambers. Lawyers work for themselves but as part of a tight knit team.

BJS: Given the “virtual” technology you use, why the need for two offices?

TS: We make smart use of technology but our lawyers and clients need places where they can work and meet. This is indispensable to our model.

BJS: Thoughts on legal branding and heaven forbid… marketing?

TS: You need to find a way of being different in a market in which everyone says that they are different, when in fact they are not.

BJS: When did you first get online?

TS: Years ago, although the full potential of the internet is only now becoming clear to me. The world is being transformed by it.

BJS: Does Twitter, LinkedIn etc come into your business?

TS: LinkedIn yes. We have yet to start using Twitter in a systematic way but again, I think there is potential there.

BJS: Does social media have a place and role to play in modern law practice?

TS: Yes, as in every other kind of business. As with anything, you gain in proportion to how much effort you make.

BJS: Quick thought on blogging?

TS: Great if you have content which is useful, and isn’t just ticking a box so you can say your firm blogs. Otherwise it’s just more white noise.

BJS: Cloud computing?

TS: Great if the system is absolutely robust and passes all the tests – for security of information, disaster recovery and so forth.

BJS: Why do lawyers have such a mistrust of technology, social media etc.?

TS: Some lawyers simply don’t like change. But others have a healthy scepticism which comes from objective thinking.

BJS: Should law school teach commercial acumen like marketing and business development?

TS: No. Law school is about law. The other skills come later and if you want to get on, you should learn them “on the job”.

BJS: Any major ambitions and goals for the short to medium term?

TS: We want to make our London office as successful as Bristol, using it as a platform to get into new markets and attract fresh talent.

BJS: Advice for aspiring solicitors?

TS: Learn to use your skills in a real world, pragmatic way that clients value. If your firm prevents you from doing this, move firm.

This article appeared on the Elephant Creative website on 4 March 2013.