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Stephen Allinson | The Insolvency Service

  • Bachelor of Law, Bristol University (1981)
  • Law Society Finals, The College of Law (1982)
  • Chairman of the Board, The Insolvency Service
  • Consultant, Lester Aldridge
  • Consultant, Shoosmiths Solicitors
  • Visiting Lecturer, The University of Law
  • Chairman of the Board, The Insolvency Service


Steve Allinson was appointed Chairman of the Insolvency Service Board earlier this year, a role where he oversees insolvency strategy and development for the government. Formerly a partner in a large regional law firm for 20 years, Steve is now also a Visiting Lecturer at The University of Law’s Bristol and Exeter centres and a consultant at Shoosmiths. As if his work schedule isn’t busy enough, he’s also Chairman and owner of Yeovil Town Ladies’ Football Club and a member of the Football Association (FA) management committee for women’s football. It all started at ULaw Guildford, where Steve studied for his solicitor qualification in the early 1980s…

The law’s all about people. That’s why I was drawn to it; I’ve always been a people person. Law firms are about people, cases are about people and problems are about people, and I enjoy being with people.

As a student at ULaw I saw the law in practice. I realised that the law wasn’t just in dusty books. It’s the same on the course I teach on today. I teach business law on the GDL, LPC and PSC and I’m really impressed by the way that ULaw prepares students for what life is like out there. The practical nature of our courses is brilliant. I always try to ensure that my material is relevant when I lecture; as I always say to my students, the law is a living and breathing entity.

A law qualification is fantastic, even if you don’t go on to use it as a mainstream solicitor. It gives you skills in business and it teaches you to think, to write and to argue. It’s a really good degree to have.

I started my career in the south-west. I wanted a lot of client contact from the outset. Large regional firms give you more client contact initially than the London firms do. I was doing my own hearings within a month of joining. That was brilliant.

What law firms are looking for in trainees today is a spark. They’re not just after someone who can study and pass exams. They love extra-curricular stuff like interning and volunteering at law centres. They’re looking for confident people who can add value. We can all find the law these days with resources such as the internet and law books, but it’s those who can apply the law to practical situations who get ahead. Personality is really important so show you stand out.

The highlight of my career so far is being appointed Chairman of the Insolvency Service Board. The role enables me to use my legal professional skills in a very business-orientated position. We’re the arbiters of insolvency policy and strategy for the government. We set out how we deal with corporate failure in this country. It’s important because when things go wrong we need to have a system where things are fully protected. In fact, our World Bank ratings are based partly on how we deal with corporate failure. I’m very lucky to be able to be part of the process that shapes the strategy of corporate governance.

I’m fortunate to start my working week meeting law students setting out on their career. Senior lawyers are there to pass on the baton of the law to students. Students are the future and working and talking with them gives me a real buzz.

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