The LCN Legal Interview: James Sullivan

We are delighted to feature an interview with James Sullivan, European General Counsel at Valad, the real estate investment management group.

Why did you get into law?
My family were all accountants; I decided law was a more interesting career option. I liked the idea that you are perceived to get better as you get older and that you spend more time reading and writing than using a calculator.

Who has been the most influential role model for your professional life?
My father; he was senior partner at his firm. But all of the line managers and business leaders I have worked with over my career have all been influential in some way or other.

What do you see as the biggest trend affecting the role of in-house counsel over the next 10 years?
A move towards internal legal teams delivering increasingly specialised and technical advice, requiring experience and expertise that matches or in some cases exceeds external counsel, resulting in a change in the in-house operating model and the way that external counsel and outsourced providers are utilised.

What is your pet hate when dealing with advisers?
Lack of proactively communicating to update the client generally, particularly if an agreed deadline is not going to be met. If you have been given an instruction, take ownership and responsibility, don’t wait for the client to chase you to find out what is going on.

In a movie of your life story, which actor would you like to play you?
Someone unknown, getting a first break in the industry.

What would be your dream job if you didn’t work in law?
Travel photographer.

What do you do to relax?
I spend a lot of time at the gym. I also have two Weimaraners but that is not always relaxing.

What is your favourite holiday destination?
Asia or Latin America.

What are your 3 best things in life?
Health, happiness and food.

What piece of advice would you give your 25 year old self?
Always be true to yourself and live life authentically.