Find out more about the people behind the advice in this series of interviews with our solicitors. We catch up with John Pauley, a senior financial services solicitor, who tells us about his journey into law and life at harper James.
What inspired you to have a career in law?
It wasn’t so much inspiration but a natural progression. I had been working in a bank for a decade doing a range of project and risk management roles. I was keen for progression and job security and having worked with the legal team on a lot of projects, I was able to secure a part-time training course. Four years later I had a training contract with DLA Piper.
Can you recall any key moment from your career?
Before I started my legal career, I was part of the team managing MBNA’s project to implement changes to ensure compliance with the payment services directive across the UK, Ireland and Spain. I think that sparked my original interest in my practice area.
How does working with Harper James compare with other firms you have worked at?
Harper James has always been a very forward-thinking law firm. I’ve been here for 3 years, and it works so well alongside my family life. The people are great and there’s a good range of quality work, which in my speciality isn’t always the case. I’ve not been found wanting for more!
Define Financial Services law
For me, I’ve got a particular angle on this as I specialise in payment services, consumer credit and electronic money. At it’s most basic financial services law sets out what activities are regulated, how regulated firms are set up and act and what they need to do to follow the law. This includes guidance on how best to navigate the regulatory framework to meet your business objectives. Unregulated firms also need to know what they need to do to ensure they don’t break the law but avoid the burden of becoming regulated. Disruptors, who are often unregulated, tend to push the boundaries between what is and isn’t regulated and legal advice is usually key to getting it right.
What do you think you clients value most about how you work with them?
The relationships I build with clients, getting to know their business well and what they need.
What’s the best piece of legal advice you could give a business and why is it so important?
I think the main thing is to check whether you’re carrying out regulated activity! Sometimes people don’t realise, for example, a merchant retailer might offer credit, even if it’s a third party that provides the credit, they would be carrying out a regulated activity of credit broking. Unless they’ve got the relevant permission, they could be breaking the law.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
We often support general counsel and when they move companies, they’ve taken Harper James with them. I’ve had personal recommendations that have contributed to this (although I can’t solely take credit as it’s a team effort across multiple practice areas) but always nice to know the value I deliver.
What do you do to unwind?
I love taking my family skiing. My boys love it, and I can’t wait to go again.
Tell us a prediction for your practice area in the future
I think the main thing is to be aware and embrace that it will continue to change and develop. Companies are continuously pushing the boundaries and developing new and novel products. Regulation will have to change to keep up, ensuring consumers have appropriate protection while not stifling innovation.