This week, the OWL has spoken to solicitor Claire Cummings whose London-based firm, Cummings Law, offers legal and regulatory advice to the financial services industry
I qualified as a solicitor in 1996 and subsequently worked in private practice specialising in legal issues related to funds and fund management. In my role as advisor, I soon became intrigued by the business-side of my clients’ work and curious to learn more about trading and investments. The more I discovered, the more I became fascinated with the world of finance, and this eventually led me to leave private practice for a position as Director and in-house counsel in a fund management firm. Here, in addition to working on the legal side, I also became involved in the running of the business.
Having gained this additional experience, as well as having passed exams on futures and options, I left the fund manager to set up Cummings Law in 2002, specialising in legal and regulatory advice for hedge funds.
What I hadn’t appreciated before starting my own business as a sole practitioner was how hard it was to have the double role of both being the person who brings in the work and also being the person who actually does the work. However, despite my long hours and very busy schedule, the sense of freedom was exhilarating as was the feeling of being in charge of my own career and business decisions, and effectively really in charge of my own life. Being the age I was at the time was also beneficial; I was only in my early thirties and so I had a lot of energy to put into the business.
Another thing, I hadn’t appreciated, was the extent of admin involved when running a business, even a small one. One of the most crucial bits is being on top of the cash flow – it really is vital, so you need to send out invoices and make sure you get paid quickly. My advice to anybody who is starting out, apart from getting paid and getting cash in the door, would be to hire a good administrator the moment you can afford one. I took on Sandra, my first member of staff, in 2003 and she is still with us after thirteen years. Sandra is a central member of the team and absolutely vital to the business.
Over the years, I’ve taken on three more lawyers and one of the things I enjoy most about coming into work is being part of our team. I am very lucky with the people I work with, and I enjoy spending my days with them, as well as the people we work for and the interesting work we do.
Cummings Law Ltd, 42 Brook Street, London W1K 5DB, +44 20 7585 1406