Ben Ferris is one of our Senior Tutors at ULaw Guildford teaching on the LLB, GDL and LPC Courses. We caught up with the first time dad to find out a little about his journey from legal practice to training the legal stars of the future.
When I was younger I wanted to be an actor, which I suppose explains why I’m happy to stand up in front of lots of people and speak publicly for a living.
I studied Law and History at Cambridge University before completing my legal qualifications at The College of Law in 1999... I did my training contract with Lovells (now Hogan Lovells). I qualified into the firm’s IP and IT department in 2001 and practised there until the beginning of 2005. The work I did covered a whole range of different non-contentious IP/IT matters, from drafting and negotiating confidentiality agreements through to corporate support work on large, international M&A transactions. I worked with start-ups, established high street brands and global public companies operating across a number of jurisdictions.
Early on in my newly-qualified days, I was asked to go on a client secondment to Bermuda to work for a large financial institution. I reported directly to the global head of legal, had my own office next to him and was responsible for helping to manage the client’s international trade mark portfolio. On top of that, I was put up for six months in a waterfront chalet overlooking Hamilton harbour right next door to the client’s international headquarters, I had no excuse for being late for work.
I only ever worked on non-contentious matters once I qualified, so it really was nothing like Allie McBeal or The Good Wife. I did work as a trainee on big famous dispute between a well-known airline and a well-known building firm during the building of Terminal 5 at Heathrow though.
I left practice in 2005, I decided that I wanted to teach... saw that The College of Law was advertising for tutors for the launch of the Moorgate centre. After reading the job description, and remembering all the great tutors I had had, I decided to apply so that I could combine my passion for teaching with everything I had learned while in practice.
The call for an interview came while I was in Malaysia, so I jumped on a cheap flight home, had the interview in Chancery Lane on a wet Friday afternoon and then jumped back on another plane and was in Penang by Sunday morning. It was money well spent as I was offered the job the next day. I started at the Moorgate centre when it opened and have been with the University ever since.
The quality of the teaching staff sets us apart... Every single member of the teaching team has been in practice and knows exactly what it’s going to be like for our students. Whether that’s a high street firm specialising in criminal law or a major international law firm in the City, we have people here who know what it takes to succeed in those environments and can offer the right encouragement and advice. It’s also a pretty enjoyable place to work. I still look forward to coming in on a Monday morning and not a lot of people can say that about their jobs!
I always tell my students in their last LPC class with me to remember to:
1. Never underestimate the importance of a firm handshake
2. Be nice to your secretaries
3. (For the boys only) brown shoes and business suits never work
One thing not a lot of people know is that I can name all the Kings and Queens of England in order from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II.
I’ve also recently become a dad for the first time, so watching my daughter grow up is making me pretty happy at the moment. I’m passionate about keeping her out of mischief for as long as I possibly can.
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