60 second interview with James Freeman, Charles Russell Speechlys

Date: 24 Mar 2020

Bumblebee Design

As part of our 60 second interview series, Citywealth spoke to James Freeman, family law partner at Charles Russell Speechlys about helping clients through relationship breakdown and uncertainty in the law creating recurring issues.

Tell me about your role

I am a partner in the family team at Charles Russell Speechlys, and will be heading the team from 1st May. CRS is a top private wealth law firm, both in the UK or internationally. My job is to sort out the consequences (financial or otherwise) of relationship breakdown and/or to help clients put arrangements in place to protect against the risks associated with it. My own particular interests are cases involving trusts, significant private businesses and cross-border work especially Anglo-French cases – but really anything complicated.

Walk us through your daily routine

I don’t have one, happily. In our London team we tend to do the most complex cases and no two are alike. They usually have all sorts of arms and legs and can’t be done properly without related expertise, so I spend quite a lot of time talking to colleagues across the firm. We’re lucky here to have top-flight tax, trusts and disputes teams as well as strong corporate, commercial, property and banking lawyers and we have offices in most of the major private wealth centres.

What is the most challenging issue your clients are facing currently, and how are you helping your clients to overcome it?

Every case has its own challenges but the many areas of ongoing uncertainty in the law create recurring issues. Judgments in financial cases do not sit comfortably with each other and the law can seem to be just a thousand shades of grey and no clear lines. You need to right combination of instinct, judgment and technical ability to find your way through it.

What is your proudest professional achievement to date?

I can’t tell you the thing I am actually proudest of because it was done in confidential proceedings. But I am very proud of the way we have come together to build the CRS family team over the last five years or so.

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

A clear and abiding memory of what it was like when you were at the bottom of the pile.

Who do you most admire and why?

Legally, Baroness Hale, a family lawyer who led the Supreme Court in a historic moment. Illegally, Philippe Petit, the New York wire walker.

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

I was in Edinburgh a few weeks ago. I briefly lived there many years ago and have fond memories.

If you weren’t in the wealth management industry, what else might you be doing?

Surfing, ideally.

How do you relax after a long day?

By working out answers to whatever questions are bothering me.

Best piece of advice for a Generation z?

Don’t give up. The rest of us are counting on you.