In our 60 second interview series, Chris Scott, founder of Himsworth Scott, a reputation management law firm, speaks to Citywealth about the importance of relationships within the private client industry and relaxing after work with his miniature dachshund puppy.
Tell me about your role.
I’m a founder and owner of Himsworth Scott. We started the firm in September because we wanted to develop a new model for lawyers protecting reputation, privacy and freedom to operate through a better understanding of the multiple aspects to the job beyond just media law, and effecting substantive changes to better protect clients. I spend most of my time helping clients and their advisors navigate difficult issues, the rest managing the rapid growth of the firm and working on developing our people, service lines and brand.
How has the private client industry changed?
I think the diversity and quality of services has boomed - there is now a great deal of specialism in areas that didn’t exist 15 years ago better covering clients’ needs. I also think the rise of the global citizen has made practising in the industry even more international than it was before. Together that means you have to know lots of experts in lots of territories to protect your clients.
What lessons have you learnt?
I think to do well in professional services you have to keep learning from as many sources as possible. The main one though is just how important relationships are to everything. Not just putting all effort into the best possible relationships with clients, but how you interact with co-counsel and other advisors to develop mutually beneficial long-term relationships. The same applies internally - you achieve so much more in business working with people you like, trust and value.
Tell us about interesting client instructions.
Always the toughest question to answer without breaching confidences! I’ve had the fortune to advise clients on some fascinating issues down the years, from allegations of kleptocracy to disputes over the provenance of art works. We are working on some fascinating matters at the moment including protecting a prominent offshore business from a smear campaign, advising a Swiss family on privacy matters and implementing a newly created digital service for preventing leaks of information for an American group.
What challenges do your clients face?
I think a lot is encapsulated in our “freedom to operate” line. Sometimes clients are worried about harm to their reputation at large, but most of the time it’s about what the impact of the reputation or privacy risk is on their business, relationships or security. Getting into what exactly the pain point is and what they are worried of happening very often determines the right strategy to take.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your role?
Two things – first is the creative latitude to try and solve an unconstructed problem, it’s unlike other areas of law in that clients very seldom come to us with a request for a service so much as to tell us about a problem and ask how to approach it. Second, I’ve always believed in wanting the people working for me to do better in their careers than I have. Being able to pass on guidance and see other people develop and succeed is hugely rewarding, and I’m looking forward to us taking on our first trainees in the near future to offer the next generation a route into the profession.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Set up your own firm. I wish I’d done it years ago.
What was the last book you’ve read?
‘How Democracies Die’ by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. It’s as timely as it is prescient in acknowledging what factors erode confidence in the democratic process and how they could be prevented.
Where was the last place you travelled to for work or pleasure?
I have just arrived back from a working trip to Hong Kong and Singapore today seeing clients and prospects, I was in the UAE with a client the week before. I am a great believer in dealing with clients’ most sensitive issues face to face.
How do you relax after a long day?
Re-what? Joking aside, I was treated to a spell of gardening leave prior to starting the firm and bought a miniature dachshund puppy to entertain me when I ran out of gardening. Taking him for a walk and having every third person I meet photograph him for their Instagram tends to take up a fair bit of evening. Between that and spending time with my kids you can take yourself out of work quickly.