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Q&A with Miles Alexander

3 April 2017

Miles Alexander is director of regulatory management at the SRA

Miles Alexander  

You're talking to a friend of a friend at a party. How do describe what you do?

For two years I've been the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) first director of regulatory management. We need to make sure we have open, if sometimes robust, conversations with the largest law firms - whether City, national or international firms. It helps us understand how we can regulate effectively and what risks are emerging.

I also lead the team which carries out evidence-based reviews of topical issues such as criminal advocacy, personal injury advice or asylum work. We identify where there may be problems, good and bad practice, and help promote ethical behaviour.

What was your first job?

A Sunday morning paper round aged 14. On the first day it was snowing hard and my mother insisted that my father drive me on the round. I kept the money. He never drove me again.

Career highlight?

Having the opportunity to persuade my partners to support a loyal and much-liked colleague in addressing their addiction and then rebuilding their life and career. The City can be a tough place sometimes.

Share some great advice you've been given.

If I was given any I cannot remember it and probably wouldn't have followed it. Of course, I am not averse to handing out advice. I am a great believer in people 'making their own luck'. By working hard at something you want, you will create opportunities.

What's in your desk drawers?

We do not have drawers at the SRA! We are open plan and hot-desk if necessary. I have the mandatory basket containing the usual, useless detritus: chopsticks, half-used pots of ink and a book on churches in the City.

Can you recommend a local lunch or coffee spot?

Manon Cafe on King William Street - my 'other office'. Great coffees, teas and Belgian chocolates! Full of City people having discreet and animated conversations. A modern day version of the 17th century coffee house.

How do you relax?

With difficulty.

What's your pet hate?

Fish knives. A Victorian pretension and quite unnecessary.

What's your favourite city?

I have always felt at home in New York and wanted to work there but never had the opportunity. Recently, I have discovered Rome. As they say in New York, 'What's not to like?'

What book is on your bedside table?

I still have three from Christmas. The letters of travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor, a history of the London marathon (I have 'run' it twice) and London in Fragments: A Mudlark's Treasures by Ted Sandling. Most days I walk along the Thames close to the office and at low tide see mudlarks scouring the riverbed for items of London's history. It is an informative, elegantly written and beautifully produced book; a desirable object in its own right.

If you hadn't become a solicitor, what would you have done?

Archaeologist, research chemist, the army and actor (my uncle was one) were all on the list at some time but I came closest to studying architecture before committing to law. Even then I qualified and practised as a barrister for four years before becoming a solicitor.