Matt Pugh: Playing a merry tune

Matt Pugh: Playing a merry tune

Matt Pugh is a partner at boutique Leeds firm 3volution

Matt Pugh is a partner at boutique Leeds firm 3volution and heads up the firm’s property litigation practice.

He started his legal career at Ford & Warren in 1999, qualifying into the firm’s property litigation team, before moving to Clarion in 2006 where he was later promoted to senior associate. In 2010 he set up the property litigation department at Lee & Priestley before being promoted to partner and hired by Langleys in York to lead a new specialist property litigation unit.

He joined 3volution in 2015 and has built a flourishing and diverse practice focussed on helping clients protect their property interests.

I became a solicitor because…

I’ve always been a bit of a performer and I am very competitive, so I think there was something appealing about the idea of standing in court arguing someone’s case and working out clever ways to solve problems.

I would tell my 21-year-old self to…

Take a year out. I was in a rush to get onto the career ladder and passed up on an

opportunity to start my training contract. You’ll be doing this for maybe 40 years, so what difference will a year make?

If I wasn’t a solicitor then I would be…

A professional musician or the manager of a live music venue. I’ve been playing and writing music since I was nine years old and studied music at university. I play a number of instruments: the fiddle, African and Brazilian drums, classical percussion and I know my way around a recording studio. I currently gig with folk rock band Arden Beck in and around Otley, playing covers songs by artists like Jack White and First Aid Kit.

The best part of my job is…

The variety. I know it is a cliché but every day is truly unique. There is never a dull moment. The range of cases that have come across my desk in the last couple of years has been extraordinary. For example, in the last few months I have worked on cases involving members of the cast of Made in Chelsea, a Sikh temple, a proposed drug addict treatment centre, a farm, and a dilapidations claim against Sky TV.

The worst part is…

Being a lawyer can be demanding and sometimes this can mean long and unsociable hours. Plans sometimes have to change at very short notice, if, for example, you have to pull together an urgent. Quite a few of my clients also live in different time zones, so that means evening telephone conferences. Thankfully I have an understanding family and it is quite easy nowadays to work remotely, lessening the impact on your personal life.

The highlight of my career to date is… taking on a case against a major sporting personality. He fought the case tooth and nail, my private investigator uncovered some very dubious goings on that put him in fear of his safety and things got quite nasty. We were due to go to trial but the day before he backed down, with his lawyer simply asking me “how much do you want for your costs?”

The legal profession could be improved by…

Introducing compulsory mediation as part of the litigation process for certain types and values of cases. This may sound radical, but it is what they are doing in California and Ontario. My personal experience of mediation is largely positive and it seems madness in many cases for clients to incur huge costs gearing up for trial without attempting mediation at a fraction of the cost. It would also free up court time.

Working in Yorkshire is great because…

They call it “God’s own country” for a reason. I love being only minutes away from stunning countryside, which I can access from the door on foot or on my bike. There is also a grit, determination and honesty about the people here which I admire.

The people who have had the biggest influence on my career are…

In the early days, the guys in my team at Ford & Warren had an absolute blast, but we also worked really hard managing big caseloads. It was sink or swim stuff, but as a team we were there for each other. I trained under Peter

McWilliams and I think that rubbed off on me in setting my default no-nonsense litigation style, although I have become a bit more nuanced since then. I also remember him giving a client a serious ticking off for being rude to one of his staff, which I greatly respected. At Clarion, I was exposed to a completely different set of influences and I learnt a lot about marketing, branding and managing client and staff relationships from people like Mark Burns, Simon Young and Roger Hutton and I upped my game technically.

Away from the office, to relax …

Training for my third triathlon at the moment, so it is swimming, cycling and running six days week. When I am not training, practicing with the band or being coaxed into playing Barbies with my daughters, I am a bit of a box set addict; Game of Thrones, Vikings and Breaking Bad being current favourites.

 

This article first appeared in Leeds & Yorkshire Lawyer

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