Graduate Team Insights: An Interview with Alex Watson

Welcome to our Graduate Team Insights series, where we sit down with members of the Graduate Recruitment Team and ask them about their background and their experiences throughout their respective careers.

This week, we speak to Alex Watson, the firm’s Training Principal and a Partner in our Corporate Team.

  1. Where did you train?

TLT, Bristol

  1. Do you have a law or a non-law background?

Non-law – I have a BSc in Geography from Bristol University, then did the PGDip Law and LPC at UWE

  1. What do you like most about being a lawyer?

As a corporate lawyer, there is nothing I love more than the (fun) pressure of being in the middle of a transaction, pushing to get it over the line and getting all the sides happy with the deal that has been done.

  1. What do you like least about the legal profession?

Historic restrictions on access to law has meant a lack of diversity and social mobility in the profession – something we are all committed to change for future generations.  And too many Latin phrases…

  1. If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be?

Back at the beginning of my career, probably an accountant.

  1. What is your proudest career moment?

I closed a big wind farm portfolio acquisition, joint venture between the developer and investor client and debt financing – the deal was really complicated and had a very tight timescale with a hard cut off at midnight on the last day of the exclusivity period – we worked around the clock to deliver for the client and closed the deal at 11.57pm…I led the transaction and was really proud of myself at the end of it (mainly because I was 6 months’ pregnant at the time, and I was just thrilled I managed to stay awake long enough to see the deal close!).

  1. What was the biggest mistake you made as a trainee?  What did you learn from it?

This is a hard one, as I made a lot of mistakes and choosing the biggest one is a bit of challenge!  It’s a toss up between (a) holding up multiple completions of new leases on a significant industrial estate when I managed to do a priority search of pretty much the whole industrial estate and not just the lease area we were completing on (in the days when it was all done by fax and post and you couldn’t just change things online), and (b) missing a signature on a key document for an AIM Admission, realising after the client had just left what I had done, and having to run down the street in a suit and heels at 2am waiving my arms in the air so the client didn’t get into the cab and head off (again in the days before we had widespread electronic signature capabilities).  I learnt attention to detail is key, and you need to check, check and check again.

  1. If you could describe your leadership style in three words, what would they be?

I expect my perceptions will differ wildly from those of my family and my colleagues!

Focussed, compassionate, collaborative

  1. What is your favourite thing to do in your free time?

Taking my kids to their favourite sports and watching them develop with their skills and confidence in those.

  1. Given what you know now, what advice would you give to your trainee self?

Two main things (a) the words “I don’t know the answer to that, I will come back to you” are not a sign of weakness and (b) clients don’t want perfect legal solutions, they want commercial solutions, so get into the mindset early.