Chris Nott is a leading commercial litigation lawyer and founder and senior partner at Capital Law LLP. Chris specialises in cases involving the ownership and operation of organisations, both large and small. He has been involved in a variety of cases; ranging from the Barlow Clowes scandal in the late 1980s, to the ground breaking Roadchef class action. Chris was also instrumental in setting up Capital Law’s own commercial litigation fund – making it the first UK law firm to do so.
Alongside this, Chris has also set up, operated and chaired businesses and organisations of all shapes and sizes in a range of sectors, has been a part-time Judge and is currently an advisor to the Welsh Government about developing its economy.
How did you find your way to your current role?
After training in Cardiff, I moved to work as a commercial lawyer in London. There, I worked out that I really wanted to be running a law firm, my own way. In 1992, I set up my first law firm, which became Capital Law in 2006 after a demerger. I was Managing Partner at Capital Law for nine years and, last year, moved to the role of Senior Partner to allow me to focus on the growth of the firm externally.
Within your career to date, was there a specific period that you believe helped you to become the successful leader that you are today?
The demerger was so contentious and tough to bring off that I learnt massively from it; overseeing the new firm grow from the old enabled me to develop Capital’s culture, which is key to its success.
Have you always been ambitious?
I’ve always set out to do the things I wanted in the ways I wanted to do them, and I couldn’t do this anywhere other than in my own business. I was seen, perhaps, as a maverick in the way that I worked, and that I wouldn’t have easily fitted in elsewhere.
What was the first job you had that entailed managing people and what lessons did you learn?
Within my first law firm I tolerated bad behaviour; the culture simply wasn’t right in a large part of the business. After the demerger, we set up Capital Law based on the values we believed in and we have maintained them without fear. I learnt how important it is to get the best out of everyone and I found a colleague to help me, who was and is superb at that. She is now one of the owners of Capital.
Throughout your career could you explain what leadership and management development you have undertaken?
I’ve essentially undertaken a 30 year MBA!
My clients lead businesses big and small, public and private, good and bad; I’ve been able to observe them, which allowed me to recognise what worked well, and what to avoid. This has been the best training I could have had.
With regards to your current role, how would you describe your style of leadership?
Ensuring I get consensus from everyone is very important. The Board members could make the big decisions and dictate to the firm, but that’s not how you create an effective workplace.
It’s important to know when to step back and let someone with the right skills do a particular job.
What would you say is your greatest achievement in a leadership role?
Taking Capital Law from inception to The Legal 500’s Welsh Law Firm of the Year within 9 years.
Do you manage to have a work/life balance?
For me, because I’ve always wanted to do what I’m doing now, work and life are one and the same. I don’t switch between work and home depending on where I am. I think a good leader is someone that doesn’t put on a guise, so I’m always myself, whether at work or not.
What would be your top tip to other leaders and managers?
Develop and maintain a strategy that the entire organisation understands and have had an opportunity to influence. Effective communication is key to this.
The LMW Team would sincerely like to thank Chris Nott for this interview.