Lawyer of the Week, The Times

What is your reaction to being included in the [Theakston’s shortlist]?

Amazed delight. Last Autumn I was short-listed for the Dagger, the crime writers’ award for best short story of the year, but this tops even that. The prize is open to voting by the public which makes it extremely gratifying. After publishing ten novels, perhaps I’m getting the hang of it.

What was your worst day as a lawyer?

My boss sent me off to conduct my first tribunal case saying that I couldn’t possibly lose – although he put it more colourfully than that. Of course, I lost. I was mortified, but did win the appeal and he and I have been partners in the same firm for 20 years, so we have probably forgiven each other by now.

What was your most memorable experience?

I was once trapped in a lift with an opponent on the way up to a tribunal hearing. By the time we were rescued, we’d settled the case. I spent a few years on the Law Society’s working party on alternative dispute resolution but never plucked up the courage to suggest trapping people in lifts as a fresh way of encouraging consensus.

Who has been the most influential person in your life?

Perhaps my literary agent, Mandy Little, who has shown enormous belief in me from day one. My first book was about the less than spine-tingling subject of computer contracts, but her faith has helped me to become established as a novelist here and in the US and Europe.

Why did you become a lawyer

To earn enough to pay the mortgage while I pursued my ambition of becoming a crime novelist. Luckily I found I enjoyed the work, the clients and the colleagues.

What would your advice be to anyone considering a career in law or to combine law with novel-writing?

You should care passionately about doing your best for every client and be strong enough to tell people truths that they may not wish to hear. As for writing – only do it if you love it (and that goes for legal writing as well as fiction).

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Still writing crime fiction. But probably not in a tax haven.