60 second interview with Emma Woollcott, Mishcon de Reya

Date: 10 Jun 2019

Bumblebee Design

In our 60 second interview series, Citywealth speaks to Emma Woollcott, partner at Mishcon de Reya. Emma leads the reputation protection team at the firm and was recently awarded ‘Diversity/Gender Positive Role Model of the Year’ at the 2019 Citywealth Magic Circle Awards. She spoke to Citywealth about the challenges facing clients in today’s world of social media and the importance of an international network.

Tell me about your role.

I lead the Reputation Protection team at Mishcon de Reya, advising clients on issues which affect their reputations, their private and family lives, and their business dealings. My clients are predominantly high net worth individuals and the businesses they own and run. It is a real privilege to be called on at times of crisis, and to quickly immerse yourself in someone else’s world – trying to understand their priorities and their challenges, and to use your experience and instinct to create a strategic solution suited to their needs.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Unpredictable. I rarely start my ‘to do’ list until well into the afternoon, as I’m interrupted constantly. As well as a busy case load of client work, and managing my team, I am one of the firm’s social impact partners and sit on the diversity committee.

Tell us about interesting client instructions.

The nature of the work, and of our success in it, means that we cannot talk about the detail of the varied sensitive matters we deal with on a day to day basis. These including defending clients facing threatened invasions of privacy and politically-driven defamatory campaigns, trying to get to know clients’ vulnerabilities and aspirations so that they can pre-empt and mitigate reputational challenges before they arise.         

What challenges do your clients face and how are you helping your clients to overcome them?

In today’s world of social media and 24-hour news cycles, everything goes global – and fast. Our international network of trusted advisors and intermediaries has grown and strengthened in recent years, as the importance of a coordinated and effective global strategy has crystallised.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

Seeing my team grow and thrive. I am lucky to work with a group of fantastically bright, dynamic and driven lawyers, with a wide range of interests and specialisms. One of the most interesting things about being a reputation lawyer is the fact that you never know the context from which the next crisis will emerge. My team’s diversity is one of its many strengths.

What do you consider to be the most important attributes for a leader?

The ability to listen, and to understand the strengths and priorities of the people around you. People work best when they can be themselves and feel understood.

Who do you most admire and why?

Many of the Partners here at Mishcon blow my mind on a daily basis with their knowledge, skills and kindness for clients and one another.

Where was the last place you travelled to for work or pleasure?

I took my son to Scotland a few weeks back, and we both enjoyed being out in the wilds for a few days.