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


Following an early career as an academic exploring cultural change and group dynamics, Nigel worked in Professional Services Firms for 20 years, initially in a client-facing role at PricewaterhouseCoopers and, for 13 years, in senior talent development roles at two international law firms, before moving to Saïd Business School in 2017 where he is currently a Senior Client Director in the Executive Education team.

In these law firms Nigel was Global Director of Learning and Development and was responsible for designing and implementing firm-wide talent development strategies. A qualified Executive Coach, one major focus for Nigel has been associate and partner development and assessment, often embedding mentoring and coaching into programmes in order to create sustainable change.

Nigel worked with Senior and Managing Partners, and the Boards at his previous firms, to create innovative, award-winning programmes for different phases of lawyer careers, focusing especially on experiential learning strategies:

  • New undergraduate law degrees and graduate MBA programmes which embedded workplace experience.
  • Associate / partner client relationship and leadership programmes.
  • Career direction programmes for established equity partners.
  • Senior partner transition and succession planning programmes.

In the last 3 years, Nigel also led organisational development initiatives as law firms responded to the disruption in their industry. These included creating the first ‘Innovation Hub’ in a global law firm as a client-facing collaboration space, helping the firm to evolve its future service delivery and working with the legal tech community to drive this initiative.

More broadly, Nigel co-chaired the UK’s national body of Legal Education professionals (the Legal Education Training Group) for a number of years and now sits on its Advisory Panel. As Chair, he worked with international Business Schools to conduct research into coaching, leadership development and strategy. Nigel also held Board roles at Higher Education Research Institutes and at the ACCA, in addition to his is Visiting (Industry) Professor at the School of Law, Queen Mary University of London. At Oxford Nigel has developed a White Paper series of ‘Practitioner Insights’ on how strategic talent programmes can create competitive advantage, and is a member of Oxford University’s Saïd Business School Coaching Community, coaching on the Saïd Business School’s MBA and executive development programmes.

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.


1993 onwards: Informal supervision of Masters and PhD students.