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Nigel Boardman is a partner at Slaughter and May. You may have heard of him.

Why did you become a lawyer? My father was a lawyer and that brought the idea of being a solicitor to my attention. I realised a good lawyer can make a material difference to clients. Who has been the biggest influence on your career? My father, and then two partners at Slaughter and May: Derek Simon and Nick Wilson. I also benefited enormously from a spell working with David Clementi (now chairman of Prudential) at Kleinwort Benson. Aside from those at your own firm, which lawyer do you most admire and why? There are an abundance of other lawyers I admire – Jean-Francois Prat for creating the best firm in France, Peter Cameron, who alas recently died but who had dominated the M&A market in Australia, Marty Lipton for staying at the top of such a competitive market for so long, judge Dennis Davis of South Africa for his energy and commitment to the things that really matter and Ian Kirby, the retiring attorney general of Botswana. What is your strongest characteristic… and worst trait? I stick up for what I believe in – sometimes rather strongly. How do you think your assistants view you? The assistants are the future of the firm and their development is a very important part of my job. My view is that, once you have chosen the best people possible, you let them get on with it. I hope they therefore see me as someone who does not get in the way of them doing their job but is there if needed. How do you sell yourself in pitches to clients? A pitch should be no different from a first meeting on any new matter – I try to understand what issues the client has and explore ways these can best be handled. What advice would you give to young deal lawyers starting out? Think what the client wants and focus on delivering it. What is the best part of your job? The job has so many good aspects – it is intellectually stimulating, it involves working with outstanding people in client organisations, you can help the development of younger lawyers, it permits creativity; every day is different and it is never dull. What most annoys you about the legal profession? I get really annoyed by over-lawyering – lawyers making a meal out of something which is not in their client’s interests. What would you do if you were not a lawyer? On graduating I considered becoming an academic historian and that would still be of interest. Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time? Dead, retired or doing what I am doing now. What is your favourite lawyer joke? A man is floating in a hot air balloon, lost in thick cloud. Suddenly there is a break in the cloud and he sees a woman standing in a field about 100 feet below his basket. He shouts down to the woman: “Can you please tell me where I am?” The woman replies: “Certainly, you are in a hot air balloon, 100 feet above a field.” The man shouts back: “You must be a lawyer.” “How did you know?” the woman asks. The man replies: “Because your answer is absolutely accurate and completely useless.” “You must be a businessman,” the woman shouts back. “How did you guess?” queries the man. “You are lost and drifting, you do not know where you are or where you are going, and now you want to blame someone else.” What is your favourite cheese? Roquefort. Not only does it have a wonderful tangy flavour and superb texture, but it also comes from the Aveyron, where I have a holiday home.

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