Law: And then he tipped ice over his head

Robert Palache, the lawyer with the wacky reputation, is changing jobs.

The trouble is, law is a young person's profession - the hours means that it can be tough, both physically and mentally," admits the forty-year old "showman" securitisation lawyer, Robert Palache, who is leaving London's largest law firm Clifford Chance - and the law - to become an investment banker with Japanese investment bank Nomura International. However, it is highly unlikely that the working culture there will be less stressful. He says: "I'm not leaving for the easy life - this will be a big, big challenge."

Apart from a stint with Citibank on secondment from Clifford Chance, Palache has been with one law firm for 18 years, and is acknowledged as a securitisation expert's expert. His move is unusual in that most lawyers who join the business world stay lawyers - this includes Clifford Chance's former managing partner, Geoffrey Howe , who is now in-house counsel at Robert Fleming. Palache explains that being a lawyer no longer means joining as a young boy and leaving as a grey old man: "There are more moves out of law and also back in, which can only be a good thing for the profession and for business."

But there is probably also an element of fortysomething angst in Palache's decision. He says the offer from the headhunters to switch came at the right time.

His contemporaries and rivals see it as a logical move for him as he has "gone as far as he can or wants to go as a lawyer". He will be crossing the divide and will be in a position to pick and choose which law firms and lawyers Nomura will use.

Palache says that he has received congratulations from a number of other law firms, including a former colleague at the US firm, Weil Gotshal & Manges, but none from Freshfields or Allen & Overy - "I can only assume they are on holiday. And in the week when City law firm Slaughter and May has been reported as being the most profitable law firm, I also received calls from two of its partners congratulating me - that was pretty quick off the mark."

He will not be drawn on the subject of the money he will be on at Nomura. But the move will mean a change both of culture and in the numbers of people he will be running. At Clifford Chance, he is managing 360 lawyers, as well as doing legal work, but at Nomura, where he will be a director and joint head of securitisations in the Principal Finance Group, he will head a group of 10. But as one current colleague comments: "He is leaving one big group of big fee earners to head a group of even bigger fee earners."

Palache's life has had its own share of challenges. His ancestors emigrated to England in the late 19th century, and he is the product of a Dutch Jewish father and an Eastern European mother. He was the first in his family to go to university and studied law at Magdalene College, Cambridge, before applying to a number of law firms in the City.

He remembers his first interview, where he sat on a stool at one end of the room, while "the first question which the three elderly gentlemen in large armchairs asked was `what does your father do?'."

As Palache recalls, his father had just started driving a minicab because his restaurant had gone bust, so he just mumbled, guessing that this information was probably unlikely to impress the panel, or get him a job offer from the firm.

His next interview was at Coward Chance (which later merged with Clifford Turner to become Clifford Chance) where one of the interviewing panel was the partner who is now senior partner, Keith Clark. Palache says that the firm seemed much more light-hearted and less stuffy, so he cancelled the other appointments as soon as he got the job offer.

He qualified in 1981, and was working in the area of finance where not just companies, but countries such as Rumania and Nigeria, had to have their debts reorganised - it was a matter of being in the right place at a very lucrative and creative time for lawyers and other professional advisers. Palache became a partner in 1988, rising to managing partner of the firm's finance practice in 1995.

But his steady rise at the firm did not prevent the growth of his "wacky" reputation. The showmanship is the legal equivalent of pulling a rabbit out of a hat. He is known for saving deals from disaster by wandering in at the last minute and coming up with a solution written on the back of an envelope. Another tale doing the rounds is when, with minutes to go to the closing of a multi-million deal, and no sign of the money being released, Palache poured an ice bucket over his head (which certainly stimulated the brain cells) scribbled an opinion on a fax, and that got the money moving immediately.

And as another former colleague, Allen & Overy partner Mark Raines, comments: "He is certainly larger than life, and if a firm the size and depth of Clifford Chance couldn't hold him, no law firm could. When lawyers get bored with doing deals, they generally go to a bank, and if you are going to a bank, then you may as well go to one of the highest rollers."

When queried about being something of a showman, Palache says that it comes from developing communication skills to help people understand what is being said, and "make it a bit of fun, because it can be incredibly dull. It's important to remember that it is only business - it's not like being a nurse or doctor where someone may die - it is important to treat it with a sense of irony."

Palache will, however, admit that he gets the style of showmanship from Monty Python - which will no doubt prove useful now that he will be doing something completely different.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off contestants line-up behind Sue and Mel in the Bake Off tent

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Mitch Winehouse is releasing a new album

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him

music
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event

film
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star