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5 things you wouldn’t expect a leading lawyer to say

Advising rocket scientists and working with some of the country’s top household names (hello Deliveroo) – but still up for a pre-dawn spin class and championing under-represented groups in the legal profession. It’s all in a day’s work for Shoosmiths partner Fiona Teague.

As a partner at leading law firm Shoosmiths, Fiona Teague spends much of her time negotiating and drafting business contracts for her clients (both in our ‘hood and overseas). While she’s mostly on the phone and in meetings, there’s also some rather surprising elements to her day, and work. Fiona, over to you. 

It’s not a culture of all-nighters in the office

It’s not all long days (and nights) at the office. I do head to one of our fabulous offices a few times a week including Reading, Birmingham or our new London office, which has a roof terrace and skyline views. On other days its back to my home office with Treacle the cocker spaniel as my colleague for the day. Shoosmiths was an early adopter of agile ways of working before the pandemic so all of my colleagues were up and running at home with full IT installed within less than a fortnight.

I’m happy to say that I am spending much more time back at in-person client meetings now and seeing colleagues IRL again. I missed the energy and positivity it brings! Delivering for clients is a priority but I do have a degree of flexibility to manage my life/work balance.

I’m not a workaholic – I make time for family and interests

For many years now I’ve started my day with a pre-dawn run, spin or more recently kick-boxing classes (I’m a green belt) with an equally early rising friend before my household wakes up! It’s my headspace and sets me up for the day ahead. My three teenage girls are pretty self-sufficient, but they do often have stresses and logistics (I’m mum’s taxi) which need to be dealt with during the morning hustle. I get ready listening to the news or podcasts like Ted Talks DailyHappy Place or Black Women Working, then spend time dealing with emails or have an early call before school drop off. 

It’s not all grey corporate work

One of the most unusual projects I worked on was advising on a multi-million pound international contract involving the European Space Agency. It really was rocket science and related to a product used in a rocket launch! Another highlight was writing and starring in our own version of The One Show when I was filmed with my colleague discussing major pandemic industry issues in ‘The Studio’ – our very own state of the art multi-media facility in our London office! This was then issued on social media and had thousands of hits – it was fantastic to know we engaged so many people and businesses. There’s always an opportunity to explore and run with ideas here. I have recently launched a new legal operations consultancy product called Hexagon® which helps in-house legal clients shape their own teams and processes, and I am fortunate to work with many of the UK’s top household names such as Deliveroo, Three Mobile and Primark, dealing with projects which regularly make the news.

I’m not only motivated by client success

My career is extremely important to me, both because I love what I do and because I strongly believe as a woman having your own identity, purpose and financial independence affords the opportunity to have the luxury of choices and freedom in life. I thrive on working with great clients and colleagues. I have recently been appointed co-chair of our gender equity network and I’m an active ally of our LGBTQ+ diversity network with the aim to improve the journey of people in under-represented groups in the legal profession. I’m also very proud of the fact Shoosmiths is one of the Top 50 Social Mobility Employers and we launched The Shoosmiths Foundation, where grants are available for charities undertaking work in the UK.

No two days are the same

I meet with clients to catch up and hear what is going on in their world to better understand how we can support them. Then another day I could be attending a women in leadership programme or delivering a workshop to socially disadvantaged students to give them an insight into the legal profession – I am passionate about this side of my work. It’s vital to flag that EQ will be valued just as much as, if not more than, IQ in the legal profession of the future where A.I. will deal with many aspects of legal work traditionally handled by lawyers. I have certainly achieved many of my goals here at Shoosmiths including being promoted to partnership where over 36 per cent of my fellow partners are also female.

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