In this edition of Realm Talks To… we spoke with Ben Hardiman, Partner at Mills & Reeve. Amongst other things, the pair discussed Ben’s route into the law, the diversity of his role at Mills & Reeve and his review of Barack Obama’s autobiography.
Why did you decide to become a lawyer?
I spoke with family friends who worked in different industries who gave me advice about what the future might hold for me. A law degree appeared to give me flexibility, whether I wanted to be a lawyer or to do something else. I got a job as a litigation paralegal after my degree and loved the fast-paced working environment. I’ve never looked back.
What do the next 12 months look like for you and your team?
My team specialises in insurance and construction disputes acting for professionals and companies in the construction sector. This is an area which is often viewed as being counter-cyclical and the economic uncertainty created by Brexit and the pandemic has led to a very busy period over the last couple of years. I see no reason for that to change. The challenge we all face is how we manage the return to the office as the impact of the pandemic hopefully eases and how we will interact with our clients and contacts going forward. Mills & Reeve is working extremely hard to find methods of working that will work for all our colleagues and our management team has excelled during the pandemic so I see no reason why we will not come up with an appropriate solution.
What’s the best thing about your job?
As a partner at Mills & Reeve, I have a really diverse role starting with fee earning. The claims I handle are usually legally and factually complex, high-value and involve a number of parties. I rarely see the same issue so something interesting is always happening. I also manage a team of people; I lead the Charity Committee for our Manchester office and I help contribute to the strategy of our insurance service line. The best thing though is getting to work with people; colleagues, clients and other contacts in my network like insurance brokers where we develop strategic partnerships to develop new opportunities.
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome in your career so far?
Applying for partnership at Mills & Reeve was an extremely challenging process. It encouraged me to look at myself, to consider my strengths and weaknesses and to develop more of a business focussed mind set. It was hard work but there was plenty of support and it ultimately helped my professional development so it was definitely a worthwhile obstacle to take on.
Who do you turn to for advice at work?
Niall Innes, my insurance partner in Manchester. We’ve worked together for longer than either of us care to remember and he is always there to offer a solution to a problem or a different perspective.
What do you like to do away from the office?
Spending time with my family. I’ve got two children under age 5 so one of the benefits of the need to work from home for me is to have seen a lot more of them. Sometimes hard work, mostly wonderful.
Where’s your favourite place to eat out?
It’s a toss-up between Hawksmoor and Dishoom. I’ve got both of their cookbooks so the pandemic has been an opportunity to try both at home.
What’s the last book you read/film you saw and what did you think of it?
The last book I read is strictly the Gruffalo (or any of the Julia Donaldson stable) which my kids demand most evenings before bed. For myself, I’ve just finished Barack Obama’s autobiography which gives a fascinating insight into the challenges of that office and the frustration which must come from having to balance so many competing political viewpoints to be able to achieve the ambitions he had for the country.
Which three people would you invite to your dream dinner party?
David Attenborough because he’d have so many stories to tell. Freddie Mercury for some musical inspiration. And Jurgen Klopp for sport (as a long-suffering Liverpool fan working in Manchester for 20+ years I couldn’t leave him off).
What advice would you give to your teenage self?
Do for others what you would want them to do for you. If you are nice to people, they are usually nice back.
About Ben Hardiman
Ben Hardiman is an experienced solicitor and Partner at Mills & Reeve in Manchester.
He has specialised in handling commercial insurance disputes with a professional indemnity and construction focus for nearly 20 years. He routinely advises clients operating in the construction sector, insurance brokers, solicitors and directors in high-value and complex disputes.