Alumni profile - Hilary Stewart-Jones
I began my knowledge and interest in the gambling sector whilst at Ladbrokes which at that time ran betting shops, casinos and racetracks across multiple jurisdictions. The industry is unique; it is highly regulated but is evolving and inventive.
(Law LLB, 1982)
Can you tell me a bit about your career as a solicitor and your journey from Queen Mary to Partner and Consultant at Harris Hagan?
I originally qualified at the specialist firm now called Schillings (the reputation and privacy advisors) and then worked as a commercial litigator in Memery Crystal and Lawrence Graham until 1995.
What made a big change to my career was getting a job in-house at Ladbrokes plc (1995-2000) which had a huge portfolio at that time including gambling businesses and hotels worldwide. I found the regulatory and commercial challenges of gambling to be extremely stimulating (and a lot of fun) not least with the advent of online gambling in the late 1990’s so I ended up being the GC for that division. The deal flow at that time was constant so it helped me get a really good corporate and business sense for US and UK deals.
In those pre-internet days I spent much of my time in the library with my small study group which made research so much more bonding than LexisNexis. I even did the late evening librarian shift at the law library every week when I was doing the LLM.
I went back into private practice in 2000 with a desire to provide industry specialist support and led sector teams as a partner in city law firms BLP (now BCLP) and DLA Piper. I now combine a consultancy role at sector specialist Harris Hagan with company directorial roles which draw upon my legal commercial and industry knowledge.
What drew you to study Law? Why did you choose Queen Mary?
Certainly nothing in my family background as I was a first generation university goer. I think it appealed as it was broadly vocational but also with an academic core.
In terms of choosing Queen Mary, I went on an open day and liked the faculty which not had the merit of being further away from home (Cardiff) than some of my other choices, but the fact that it was in London, with no cloistering campus, and had practising lawyers from the London bar teaching us, clinched it.
As the pre-eminent specialist in the area, what is it about gaming and gambling law in particular that interests you? How did you come to this specialism?
I began my knowledge and interest in the gambling sector whilst at Ladbrokes which at that time ran betting shops, casinos and racetracks across multiple jurisdictions. The industry is unique; it is highly regulated but is evolving and inventive. I firmly believe it is better to licence, tax and control the industry as people’s propensity to gamble is centuries old. Ironically though, I do not gamble!
You have recently joined the board of Playtech, could you tell us a bit about your role as a non-executive director (NED)? Have you held similar roles previously?
The Playtech plc role was 2013 - 2015 and my first PLC board role. My industry knowledge was critical to the appointment as it was a gambling software company. Like other NED roles my role at Playtech was to provide support to and oversight over the management team. Playtech was listed in the UK, but my more recent board appointment is NYSE listed - Paysafe Ltd - again in a NED role. This is as its name suggests a payments company but as it supports the gambling industry my experience was again pertinent. I combine this with the chairing of a small private software house.
What motivates you in life?
I suppose at heart I enjoy being able to fix things for people and/or protecting them so in the work environment being a specialist can assist in eliminating nasty surprises and value add.
Do you have any particularly fond memories of your time at Queen Mary?
Very fond. In those pre-internet days I spent much of my time in the library with my small study group which made research so much more bonding than LexisNexis. I even did the late evening librarian shift at the law library every week when I was doing the LLM.
What advice would you give to a student considering their career options?
Not to be daunted by anything and find a mentor if you can. Your career is more than just being employed if you are going to get any pleasure from it.