The Things I Know: Nigel Hewitson, Head of planning, Norton Rose LLP

- What skills did you have when you graduated?

My first degree was in philosophy and politics, so I graduated with few practical skills apart from an ability to analyse logically and argue cogently. These have stood me in good stead throughout my career.

- What attracted you to planning?

Variety. I like the fact that my job is different every day.

- What did you learn in your first job?

The most important asset of any organisation is its people. Always be on good terms with anyone whose job is to maintain or replace vital equipment.

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

How to negotiate, present and get the best from those around you. Do as you would be done by.

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

Roger Vergine, who gave me my first job as a lawyer, and Terry Welsh, who inspired me to specialise in planning law.

- What is your career highlight?

Winning my first - and to date only - case in the Lords. I acted for the acquiring authority in a compulsory purchase compensation claim. Judgement on preliminary points of law enabled us to settle a claim for more than £1 million with £100,000.

- What have you learned outside work that has influenced you?

If something looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is. As a Yorkshireman, I was imbued from an early age with the adage: "You don't get owt for nowt."

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

Sometimes the demands on my time are such that it feels like learning how to do six impossible things before breakfast and knowing how to square circles would come in handy.

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

Absolutely vital. I work with planners, transport engineers and surveyors and understanding their issues enables me to work more effectively to clients' overall benefit.

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