Using CILEx to achieve partnership in a law firm – Peter Hirst, Clyde & Co

Peter Hirst is a partner at Clyde & Co, a global law firm operating from 45 offices and associated offices across six continents. They have over 1,800 lawyers advising corporates, financial institutions, private individuals, and governments. Peter is Co-chair of the firm’s Global Arbitration Group and leads their Latin America team in London. He is a registered foreign lawyer of the Brazilian Bar (OAB), a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a CEDR accredited mediator.

Peter has arbitrated and litigated in more than 50 international jurisdictions, from the Far East, Middle East, Central Asia, North Africa, US and South America where he has wide variety of experience in all arbitral institutions and areas of commercial law.

In describing his route to partnership he said:

“I left school with 8 ‘O’ Levels, regrettably failing my ‘A’ Levels. In those more prosperous times I was able to get a number of temporary roles, even working as a Dyno Rod drain cleaning operative! I was fortunate enough to be offered a full time job working for a law firm assisting with court-related matters, the equivalent of being an unqualified paralegal.

The work involved preparing court documents such as applications for time extensions and filing them at court, visiting clients with requests for further information and to take witness evidence. In time, I was given more responsibility and asked to be the advocate before junior judges in the High Court to seek time extensions, argue cases for minor information requests and even, on a few occasions, to seek injunctions. I then had to serve the injunctions which was often quite a scary process.

Working for a law firm appealed to me, as the job involved both delivering briefs to barristers’ chambers but also attending court every day, so I was able to get out of the office! However, most of my opponents and contemporaries in the office were graduate trainee solicitors (or articled clerks as they were then), and it was apparent from my interaction with them that they were a great deal more knowledgeable about the law than I was. It occurred to me that I needed to take a course in law and the partners in my law firm were also very keen for me to qualify, as a first step to achieving partnership.

Becoming a Chartered Legal Executive allowed me to attain that goal while working at the same time. During my training, I worked on the defendant side of road and traffic prosecutions, minor personal injury claims and health and safety violations. I was also involved in report writing, briefing barristers and witness statement preparation. My first international assignment was to Edinburgh.

Although my qualifications gave me recognition at work, becoming a partner in those days was much easier by qualifying as a solicitor, so with my new qualification I then completed a law degree while working at the same time*. My years of employment and CILEx qualifications meant I then only had to undertake a nine- month training contract**.

From there, I became a solicitor, and, 20 years ago, a partner in a major law firm. I now manage a team of 30 people, travel extensively throughout the world and act for Governments, banks, Insurers and foreign investors in work as diverse as mining, oil and gas, telecoms, banking and intellectual property. I have appeared as an advocate in arbitrations in London, Paris, New York and the Middle East.

Chartered Legal Executives are now eligible to become partners in law firms in their own right, which I am absolutely delighted about and highly recommend. Undoubtedly, the Chartered Legal Executive qualification gave me a very good foundation in the law and a springboard for my career advancement. I can wholeheartedly recommend becoming a Chartered Legal Executive for the exciting career opportunities it affords.”

* CILEx Fellows can now become Partners
** CILEx Fellows are now exempt from having to do a training contract