The things I know - Simon Ricketts, Head of planning andenvironment, SJ Berwin LLP

Where did you study planning law?

Victor Moore's planning law course at bar school fired my imagination and still structures my understanding of the field. In 1984, the planning system seemed straightforward and logical.

- What skills did you have when you graduated?

Legal skills, enthusiasm and lots of ideas, but little else.

- What attracted you to planning?

The context of politics, business and the built environment.

- What did you learn in your first job?

From pupillage I learned that precise, taut language defeats bluster and aggression. You must think clearly and in a structured way to communicate effectively.

- What skills have you had to learn over your career?

Continual learning has allowed me to track changes in the way the planning system is being used at a given time for political or commercial outcomes. Now there is an intensive focus on climate change and housing delivery.

- What or who have been the biggest influences on your career?

Each of the lawyers I have worked with over the past 20 years, particularly Lesley MacDonagh, Michael Gallimore and Pat Thomas. I have tried to learn from their different styles and strengths.

- What is your career highlight?

One particular series of projects that I have been working on for more than ten years has built particularly strong relationships and created significant value through sustained teamwork.

- What have you learnt outside work that has influenced your career?

My family reminds me that work is not everything.

- What further skills do you aim to attain or develop?

Just to keep up with political and legal developments and the team here, whose enthusiasm and knowledge sometimes leaves me standing.

- How important is it to keep abreast of developments in allied professions?

Essential. I regularly spend my commute working through a stack of professional journals.

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