School of Law

Dr Nigel Spencer, PhD, Qualified Executive Coach (WABC), BPS Level B personality (including the NEO-PR I tool)


Visiting Industry Professor

Room Number: Mile End


Nigel worked with Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) to create a unique new undergraduate law degree, the ‘LLB Law in Practice’, including a year in industry to build practical experience into the degree.  As part of this degree, Nigel designed and delivers business skills workshops for our Law School.

Nigel is the Global Director of Learning and Development at law firm Reed Smith LLP where he is responsible for designing and implementing the firm’s talent development strategy globally. An accredited executive coach (Meyler Campbell Business Coach), Nigel’s expertise is in leadership and strategy development, commercial awareness, and coaching. Nigel develops and delivers tailored programmes for staff and clients, and also created internal coaching faculties for the firms where he has worked.

Nigel previously co-chaired the UK’s national body of Legal Education professionals (the Legal Education Training Group) for a number of years, working with international Business Schools to conduct research into coaching, leadership development and strategy. Nigel is a member of Oxford University’s Saïd Business School Coaching Community and coaches on the Saïd Business School’s MBA and executive development programmes.  

Previously, Nigel created an award-winning, first-ever graduate MBA in the legal sector, worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers and, before that, in academia, directing international interdisciplinary research projects, latterly as a Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College Oxford. Nigel’s research and publications have focused on group dynamics, hierarchy, power, agency and cultural change.

Undergraduate Teaching

2012 – date: King’s College London, and Queen Mary University of London: Undergraduate and Masters-level lectures and seminars on topics ranging from the globalisation of law firms to strategy development; also leadership development skills workshops on team-working and commercial awareness.

Postgraduate Teaching

  • 2016-17: Ulster University, Faculty of Law: Lecture as part of the university’s Master’s course in Legal Technology.
  • 2013-date: Saïd Business School, Oxford University: talent development workshops for MBA students, coaching and group facilitation.
  • 1993-97: Oxford University social sciences seminar series for Masters students on anthropological themes of hierarchy, agency and cultural change.


Leadership development, coaching, law firm strategy and management.

Funded research

  • 1988-date: More than 20 research awards for doctoral and postdoctoral research from national and international bodies (in the UK and US) including the British Academy, Humanities Research Board, Leverhulme Trust and various College and University research bodies in Oxford.
  • 1989-1997: Senior leadership and management roles on international interdisciplinary research projects at doctoral and postdoctoral level in the UK, Greece and Turkey.

Conferences and conference papers

  • 2017: “Strategies for the changing nature of work: engaging Millennials”, Strategic HR Taskforce workshop on Talent Development.
  • 2017: "Innovating to create the workforce of the future: practical workplace strategies for apprentices, graduates & undergraduates” (with Jenny Pelling), Legal Education & Training Group annual conference.
  • 2014: “Utilising MBA graduates to optimise strategic organisational success", International Talent Professionals Council - Understanding Talent: Generation Y, conference presentation.
  • 2014: “The challenges of leadership coaching in law firms: enabling individual ‘Resourceful clients’ to make organisational-level ‘Changed Worlds’” The British Psychological Society, SGCP 4th International Congress of Coaching Psychology.
  • 2013: "Leadership, a non-hierarchical concept: enabling leadership development at multiple career phases", Keynote speaker, Strategic HR Network “Leadership & Talent” conference London.
  • 2013: "Pupils into teachers: how creative 'Reverse mentoring' programmes can deliver leadership development experiences for early career professionals".  National Peer Awards conference presentation.
  • 2012: "How to create an internal coaching faculty" Legal Education Group Conference.
  • 2011: "The changed economy of legal knowledge: response through a radical change to the legal trainee career path with an MBA programme" British Academy of Management Annual Conference, London. (Joint conference paper/article with Dr. Katie Best, LSE, and Des Woods, Møller PSF Group Cambridge.)
  • 2010: "Making the business case for coaching: a case study from the legal sector", NHS National Mentoring and Coaching Conference.


Conference papers, case study writing and publications on Executive Education, leadership development, coaching, graduate career paths and the private education sector. Academic (peer reviewed) publications on cultural and social change, power, hierarchy and group dynamics (5 books and over 30 articles).

  • 2011: Executive Education teaching case study: “Nick Harrison: FS Practice Leadership” (Joint-author with Dr Henry Marsden, Managing Partner, Møller PSF Group, Cambridge University).

Practice-based research publications (select recent examples):

  • 2017: Leadership Pathways: creating future leaders in sport and business (research report with Dr Clive Reeves of the Leaders Performance Institute).
  • 2014: “Early career MBAs: optimising the development of commercial awareness and leadership capability through non-classroom activities”, Financial Times supplement for Creating Commercial Awareness (in press)
  • 2014: “Coaching and mentoring as a key leadership development tool across legal generations” (joint article with Jon Stokes), in Rebecca Normand-Hochman (ed.) Mentoring and coaching for lawyers: building partnerships for success (International Bar Association, London)
  • 2014: “Creating value for clients through learning partnerships” Training Journal
  • 2014: “Using learning expertise for client service”, Practice Management, Professional Marketing
  • 2013: The Leader Board.  Practice research White Paper with KPMG. (Joint publication with Roger Parker, and Mary-Anne O. Anderson
  • 2012: “Latent talent: how to align partner development with firm strategy”, Practice Management Managing Partner.  (Joint article with Des Woods, Chairman, Møller PSF Group Cambridge.)
  • 2011: “Odysseus the ‘resourceful client’? Human agency, coaching and change from Antiquity to the City”, Ask Europe, Guest Blog
  • 2011: “Lessons for the future: implementing a new MBA programme in the legal sector”, Legal Week
  • 2011: “Coach drivers: developing the use of executive coaching in law firms”, The Lawyer.

PhD Supervision

1993 onwards: Informal supervision of Masters and PhD students.