5 minutes with...

James Pressley, Head of Corporate and Commercial at Kirwans law firm

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 22nd, Mar

Introduce yourself – name, where do you sit in the business, and what does the business do?

My name is James Pressley and I am the Head of Corporate & Commercial at Kirwans law firm. Kirwans is a full-service law firm with offices across the Liverpool City Region, primarily serving owner-managed businesses and companies. Kirwans is able to deal with virtually any legal need an owner-managed business may have, through departments including Corporate & Commercial, Commercial Property, Employment and Dispute Resolution.

What does a typical working day look like?

My typical working day starts calmly, with a cup of coffee and a clear plan for what I am going to accomplish that day. However, my plans have to be flexible, as I often need to quickly reprioritise. This might be because of last minute changes to negotiations on a deal completion, or it may be because a client suddenly needs urgent assistance to meet a deadline or due to an influx of new enquiries which all need to be dealt with.

I try to restore some calm with a sandwich at lunchtime. Most of my work takes place on the computer or over the phone, but it can be quite intense, particularly if there is a deadline to meet, so I do burn some calories. At the end of the day I like to feel I have accomplished something, even if it is not what I planned on my morning commute.

Where would we find you on your day off?

On my day off you would find me in my local micropub with my trusty companion Paul, doing what we call ‘drawing a line under the week’. The beers change every week so it is always a voyage of discovery. Current favourites include ‘Iceberg’ by the Titanic brewery and ‘White Witch’ by Moorhouse’s. A good pint of real ale is the essential antidote to a busy week. 

What is the best advice you have been given in your career?

‘Stick to commercial work’. Advice given by one of my silver fox role models when I was a young solicitor. He foresaw the kinds of changes that are taking place today, when Legal Aid has been decimated and firms in certain sectors like Personal Injury are going out of business because of rule changes. I’m not sure whether he thought I was any good at commercial work, but it was certainly sound advice. 

Who is your role model in business?

My role models are four senior solicitors I worked for at different firms earlier in my career. At the times I worked for them, they were all in their sixties and they shared other common attributes. They were charming, but courteous. They had encyclopaedic knowledge of my area of law, backed up with a lifetime’s experience and expertise. They always seemed prepared for any eventuality and it was virtually impossible to catch them out. Their presentation was impeccable, both in their dress and in their work. They were ‘old school’ - impatient with a lack of knowledge or poor preparation, but would often offer a guiding word or an amusing anecdote or war story. 

Why choose Liverpool City Region? 

Liverpool City Region has a unique combination of the warmth and culture of its people, and a thriving business sector. Merseyside is a really exciting place to be at the moment from the point of view of business. I know from my own work that there is investment, that people are doing deals, that businesses are growing and there are opportunities out there for those who wish to find them. The tech sector is particularly vibrant. 

You could probably say those things about a number of cities around the UK, but the difference in the Liverpool City Region is a friendly welcome and a sense of humour, which is not something you could say about, for example, London.

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