Continuing our series of blogs where we talk to longstanding partners and staff members at Lester Aldridge, we interviewed Richard Fairbairn, Partner in the Tax, Trusts, Wills and Probate team, based in our London office.
When did you join the firm and in what role?
I joined (in effect) Thompson Quarrell in October 1974 as an articled clerk (trainee solicitor). I became a partner in Thompson Quarrell on 1 January 1979 (Thompson Quarrell merged with Park Nelson in 1993 and Park Nelson merged with Lester Aldridge in November 2004 and I remained a partner in all of those firms throughout).
How have things changed at Lester Aldridge over the years?
Life has changed completely. People move between firms in a way that they certainly didn’t 30 plus years ago (I signed a Partnership for life originally which is almost unheard of now). Each merger has increased the size of the firm considerably so that when I started as a trainee we were a two partner firm with about 20 people all in. Compare that to today. The biggest change however is inevitably technology.
How has technology changed over the years and how has this impacted your role?
The changes are massive. My first job as a trainee solicitor was to learn how to operate a “dolls eye” plugin telephone switchboard. I had to push quite hard for the firm to change to an automated system and now our phones are run on the internet.
When I started we had golf ball typewriters and partners and lawyers dictated everything that was then transcribed. Fast forward and we now have word processing and I draft my own documents and emails on my own screen, both in the office and from home.
Telex and Fax both of which seemed very revolutionary at the time have now been all but completely replaced by email and scanned documents.
What if the proudest moment from your career at Lester Aldridge?
That is hard to answer but probably public recognition by the French Government.
What made you stay with Lester Aldridge for more than 30 years?
The people I work with and the people I work for.
What does the future hold, how different do you think things will be in 30 years time?
I think things will continue to change dramatically and changes are already happening. This is partly driven by the pace of technological change but also in the internet age the way lawyers and clients perceive each other has changed dramatically (and not always for the better!). I think the impact of future technologies and the existing and increasing regulatory atmosphere that all professional firms work in will continue to change the way services are delivered and client’s expectations of that.