The Inside Track With: James Bell | Partner & Head of Department | Kingsley Napley
- October 27, 2023
Every month we speak to prominent professionals working in, around, and for the legal sector in the UK, uncovering their greatest inspiration, what makes them tick in a work capacity and out, and their own career paths and journey to the top of their game.
Interview with: James Bell | Partner & Head of Department | Kingsley Napley
WHAT HAS YOUR MORNING LOOKED LIKE?
Very busy! Reviewing incoming new client enquiries and meeting with our Practice Support Lawyer to set ourselves some key objectives for the next 12 months.
HOW IS BUSINESS AT THE MOMENT?
The department and the firm generally is firing on all cylinders. Staff morale is very good and the new offices here at 20 Bonhill Street are a great environment for us.
HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN ‘LAW’ AS A CHOSEN CAREER?
After a short period as a work placement paralegal at a busy criminal law firm I realised that law was my vocation. It took a few more years before I specialised into personal injury and then again into clinical negligence.
WHAT IS THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
In terms of casework, my proudest moment was a case for a young man who was assaulted by a police officer during a riot in Trafalgar Square. He suffered a fractured skull, epilepsy and a very disrupted education. The previous solicitors had lost legal aid funding and the case was very close to being struck out. I took over the case, re-interviewed witnesses, obtained additional CCTV and BBC footage and took the case to trial – where we succeeded. The Metropolitan Police appealed the judgement but we won again in the Court of Appeal. It was a case where I feel I personally made a difference by going the extra mile and not being afraid to take a risk.
WHO WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?
Lord Denning – who often managed to adapt the law in inventive ways to help those that he considered had suffered an injustice.
WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT?
In Praise of Shadows by Junichirō Tanizaki, following a recent trip to Japan.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF IF YOU COULD GO BACK TO THE START OF YOUR CAREER IN THE LEGAL SECTOR?
Don’t be afraid to take risks with hard cases.
HOW HAS THE LEGAL SECTOR CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS?
Working from home is probably the biggest change – overall I feel it has been a force for good in law and has not had the negative impact on client care or productivity. I still prefer in-person court hearings, however.
OUTSIDE OF WORK, WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?
I enjoy park runs, gardening, cooking and long walks in the countryside.
AND FINALLY, YOUR GO-TO PODCAST?
I’m quite a fan of unsolved true crime podcasts – so anything in that genre!
Kingsley Napley Solicitors is an internationally recognised London law firm with top-ranked lawyers who provide the highest quality legal advice and services across a wide range of industries and practice areas for over 80 years. While they are well-known for their Criminal Litigation, they also offer expertise in corporate and commercial, dispute resolution, employment, family, immigration, medical negligence, private client, public law, real estate & construction, and regulatory law.