Philip Barratt, a father of two originally from Greater Manchester, joined Capital in 2018 as a senior associate in our corporate team. Just 15 months later, he became our youngest partner.
What’s your background?
I was born and grew up in Salford near Manchester. I decided as a teenager that I wanted to be a lawyer, and after stints of work experience at a variety of places including high-street law firms, Salford Magistrates Court and a commercial law firm in Manchester (which is now part of DWF), I decided a commercial law firm was where I’d like to work.
I studied law at Nottingham Trent University. My degree included a sandwich year, for which I secured a paralegal role at Pinsent Masons in London. After university I returned home to study the LPC in Manchester, following which I started my training contract at Addleshaw Goddard.
What brought you to Cardiff, and to Capital?
My wife is from the Rhondda Valleys. We were both in the same intake of trainees with Addleshaw Goddard and met on the firm’s annual CSR trip to Romania. We qualified with Addleshaw Goddard and stayed in London until 2015. We then moved to Cardiff three months before the birth of our first child. There, I first worked for Eversheds Sutherland for three and half years, before joining Capital in the summer of 2018.
My first contact with Capital happened a year before I joined the firm. At the time, our youngest daughter was a couple of months old. We were adjusting to life with two young children and I wasn’t looking to change jobs, so I declined a meeting. The very understanding response I received left me with a really positive view of Capital and a few months later, we went for a coffee. Six months later, I started at Capital as a senior associate.
How would you describe your current role, and how has it evolved since you first joined?
When I first joined, the team needed additional senior resource—someone with experience and the ability to run transactions. Within a week, I was leading a new transaction for a new client, which really helped me hit the ground running. I haven’t looked back since.
The other aspect of the role was to support the development of the junior members of the team, which has been very rewarding. Joining the team as a senior associate, I really enjoyed working collaboratively with colleagues at all levels—solicitors, associates and partners alike.
From there, my role has naturally evolved. Capital were supportive of my ambition to make partner and, prior to my promotion, gave me the opportunity to take on partner-level responsibilities so that I could demonstrate I was ready for the step-up. Since promotion, I’ve gained valuable insight into the operational and finance side of the business.
I have never made a secret of my career ambitions, nor the importance of my family—and the flexibility required to juggle those two demands is genuinely high on the agenda at Capital.
What have been the highlights of your time here so far?
Promotion to partner is an obvious highlight. It’s a milestone many lawyers look to achieve, and I was thrilled to be promoted and proud to have had the backing of the firm given I’d only joined 15 months earlier. It hasn’t made me complacent though—there’s more of my career ahead of me than behind me. I’ve learnt something new on every transaction I’ve worked on and I expect to continue to do so.
Another highlight was leading a transaction for a key client of the firm at the same time as Tom Kelleher, who leads Capital’s corporate practice, led another transaction for the same client— both of which completed on the same day. This was a first for the client, and a first for Capital, and helped us to demonstrate what our team was capable of.
How would you describe the culture at Capital?
Genuine. Capital’s values are really at the heart of how the firm operates and is a key part of what we look for in our people. Every person I had coffee with prior to moving to Capital was consistent in the way they spoke about the firm and what made it great. I have never made a secret of my career ambitions, nor the importance of my family—and the flexibility required to juggle those two demands is genuinely high on the agenda at Capital.
Having worked in large law firms with multiple offices where the layers of decision-making can make staff feel a bit detached from senior management, it’s really refreshing to work in a business where the senior management and partners are incredibly open to (and actively invite) suggestions—no-one thinks Capital is perfect and if something can or needs to be improved, it gets done.
And life in Cardiff?
Fantastic. Cardiff is a small city but manages to pack plenty of culture, a great live music scene, a variety of theatres, a decent (and expanding) restaurant scene and a great nightlife. Not forgetting the domestic and international football, rugby and cricket which is regularly on offer. On top of that it has an abundance of green spaces in and around the city centre, whilst having the benefit of being half an hour or so from the beach or the mountains. There is always something for everyone—whether that’s with or without children in tow.
What advice would you give to lawyers looking to take the next step in their career?
Work hard — There’s genuinely no substitute for working hard. Getting as much substantive experience working with different clients and colleagues is key to furthering your career. The PQE approach to gauging experience is becoming less relevant. Say yes to opportunities to work on new matters, operate outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to take on increasingly difficult work.
Value relationships — Lawyers are service providers. What distinguishes one lawyer/law firm from another is the way that the service is delivered. An appreciation that it’s not just about what you do, but how you do it, is a key skill for a lawyer looking to progress. As your career progresses, the ability to develop and maintain relationships is critical, and something you’ll need to be able to demonstrate. Be nice to people—you never know where people end up.
Enjoy what you do — There’s no motivation like enjoyment. If you want to progress, make sure you enjoy what you do. Look at everything holistically—if you don’t like the work you’re doing, or the environment you work in, or feel you lack control over your work or the direction of your career, make a change. You’re in control. You can decide to change the pace and direction of your career. All law firms are different, and you should find one that enables you to enjoy your work and your life outside of the office.