Linda Woolley profiled in 'The People Who Run Law Firms: Lessons Learned from Law Firm Leaders'

29 June 2021

Linda Woolley, Kingsley Napley's managing partner, has been profiled in a new book: 'The People Who Run Law Firms: Lessons Learned from Law Firm Leaders'; edited by Bill Knight and published by Globe Law and Business.

The profile outlines Linda's pathway from initially training as a lawyer to joining Kingsley Napley and rising to Managing Partner, and includes Linda's own thoughts about key moments of her career, including her early experiences at the firm, and the most important case of her career.

Extracts of Linda's profile can be read below. You can purchase the book to read the full profile along with nine others by clicking here. You can read the full press release for the book's launch by clicking here.


...Linda has managed the firm since 2007, overseeing the growth of the firm’s income by 180%. Employing more than 200 lawyers, Kingsley Napley has been the highest-ranking law firm for the last three years in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For."


Early years

Linda graduated from Warwick University in 1983 with a degree in English and American Literature.  ...She thought that law might be a good career because it touches on all aspects of life. It was either that or teaching..."

On joining Kingsley Napley:

At her interview, they asked her why she wanted to be a lawyer: I remember saying, “because I want to help people”. Which is really kind of clichéd. But it is true, to be honest.""


Criminal law

Linda was never going to be a corporate lawyer.

It’s a strange thing for a managing partner to say, but I didn’t really get it when I was at law school. And I didn’t get property or trusts at all. I remember exchanging contracts on a property, and I put my contract into my drawer. I wasn’t really thinking about the fact I had to send it somewhere. And then the guy rang me a couple of days later and said I still haven’t received the contract."

...I’m really interested in and like the fact that, for example, in criminal law, the law, including statute law, adapts and changes according to the morality of society at any time. So if you look at historic sexual abuse, child abuse, now, to a degree we are judging people, and not only judging them, but charging and convicting them on the basis of today’s moral standards, rather than those of the time in which some of those acts were committed."

I couldn’t believe my luck. I was doing criminal law in the best criminal practice in the country."


Making a real difference

One case in particular stands out for Linda. 

My client didn’t even know what was happening. He didn’t know what the decision meant for him, because it was all legalese. It was a classic scene. In the court used for criminal appeals they’ve got a dock area with bars. And I went up to him and explained that he was free and he kind of slipped down the bars. He was so shocked. He just kind of collapsed. And later we got him £750,000 in compensation."

And that is the only case in my whole life where, but for me, he probably would have died in prison. It stays with me, that case, because I know that I made the difference. And that is what my firm does for people every day, which is great."


The path to partnership

Linda was made a partner in the firm in 1998, after a client had told the firm she should be promoted. “It was very, very informal in those days.” Linda became a salaried partner at first and the only difference it made was that she got a box of wine at Christmas and a free copy of the Evening Standard every night.

Linda was only the second woman to be made a partner at the firm in the criminal practice. Life continued much as before until she made a move to management in 2004. Until then, the firm had no real management structure. There were three joint managing partners, drawn from different parts of the firm – family, real estate and criminal. The three met with the finance director every Thursday and there was no change to their fee-earning responsibilities. By 2007, the others had withdrawn, leaving Linda as the sole managing partner.


This extract is from the Special Report 'The People Who Run Law Firms, Lessons Learned from Law Firm Leaders', published by Globe Law and Business.

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