Meet the MD: Sarah Day of DLA Piper

Meet the MD: Sarah Day of DLA Piper

Having joined the company in 1998 as a partner, Sarah Day is now the managing partner of global law firm DLA Piper's Leeds operations. She told BQ what she believes makes a great business leader.

What does your job include?

My role as managing partner for DLA Piper in Leeds is a mixture of promoting the profile of the firm and leading the people who work here.

I ensure that as a business we are facing the market in a client-focused and sector-orientated way, putting forward the best teams for a case or project and creating a positive experience for all of our clients.

My job is to create the best possible environment for people in Leeds to do their job well and also to look after their careers and aspirations.


What is it the company does?

DLA Piper is a global business law firm. We provide the full range of commercial law advice to clients wherever in the world they do business, be that in Yorkshire or across the globe.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

Having integrity and a clear vision; consistency; caring about the business and its people.


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Ensuring effective communication across any global business is challenging. To begin with I found articulating to our people in Leeds how we fit into the global business difficult. However, this is something we have definitely overcome.

Leeds is a vital centre within the global firm as well as within the UK. Leeds is where some of our people have chosen to live and work as have some of the firm's important clients - we serve our clients where they are, be they local or global organisations and there are many of each.


How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

I have a great husband and we spend time together when I am not working. I also have two sloppy Labradors who I like to take out for walks. And I enjoy the odd glass of champagne!


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A bishop or the Queen! When I was growing up we were always encouraged to think and dream big and not be saddled with limitations or preconceptions - just aim for something and go for it.

This may explain why I had such high aspirations. It was in my third year at university that I decided I wanted to become a lawyer.


Any pet hates in the workplace?

People not respecting each other. People forgetting to speak to each other and relying too much on emails. Oh, and the eternal debate about what constitutes 'business-casual' dress!


Where do you see the company in five years time?

Still global, still a great place to work and still very strong in Yorkshire but more efficient, more flexible, with more agile working and a lot less paper (I hope!).


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Be true to your own leadership style and qualities and always remember that we are all human beings and humanity needs to come first.

No matter how high up the ladder you climb, keep in touch with the ground and with the people who work for the business, whatever their role.

Finally, enjoy it and be able to laugh at yourself.


Where did you start your career?

My career started at Hammond Suddards (now Squire Patton Boggs) in Leeds where I trained from 1990 to 1992 and stayed until 1998.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far.

After Hammond Suddards, I joined Dibb Lupton Alsop (now DLA Piper) in 1998 as a partner.

In 2001 I took up the role as head of the banking team in Leeds and was a member of the International Board from 2010 until 2014.

I became managing partner for the Leeds office of DLA Piper in 2011.