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Award-winning former law firm Managing Partner

I help lawyers define and realise
their law firm career ambitions

Jonathan Watmough



I am an expert external adviser, consultant, guide and mentor to help lawyers make the two key career leaps in commercial law firms:

Making the leap from being a fee earning resource with a job to being a senior lawyer with a long-term law firm career

Making the leap from being a senior lawyer with a law firm career to making it as a partner and rainmaker

I'm an insider. I spent 2 years as a trainee, 5 years as an associate, 8 years as an M&A partner and 10 years as a Managing Partner in The City. I know exactly what makes commercial lawyers and law firms tick, what works, what doesn't work and what makes the difference.


I am objective. I will tell you what I think and what you need to know.


I understand. I am one of you. I've done what you do. I've felt what you feel. I've also done what your bosses do and felt what they feel. I understand both perspectives. I am on your side to provide non-judgmental, understanding support to help you make better career choices and help you persuade others to make better choices relating to your career.

My approach is informal, bespoke and based on trusting relationships. I will focus on what matters to you. Everyone is different so there is no set formula or programme. The type of help I can provide includes:

Understanding how the system works and helping you define your career ambitions.

Career health checks and follow-ups where necessary.

One-off advice around specific career or personal development issues.

More structured personal and career development, where necessary sourcing specialist assistance from colleagues in psychology, business development, communication and recruitment.

Whatever your needs, my approach is to measure, analyse, cut through, identify the precise problems and find simple, practical solutions that help you move forward positively and with clarity and confidence.

Do please contact me and let's discuss. I'm very happy to invest some time to get to know each other and see whether we might work well together. And please don't be scared off by my relative seniority. The projects I help law firms, law firm leaders and law firm investors take on are reassuringly expensive but my career mentoring for individual lawyers is close to my heart. My experience also means that we can get to what matters quickly and cost effectively.


M&A lawyer, managing partner, technologist and author

Jonathan Watmough was born on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales but raised in the Sussex Downs. He has been a lifeguard, gardener, dishwasher, hotel porter, humper in a meat factory, pilot, fruit farmer, decorator, builder's mate and bartender.

He qualified as a Solicitor in The City of London at Reynolds Porter Chamberlain in 1993. Practising in M&A and equity capital markets, he became a partner at thirty, managing partner at thirty-eight and spent the next ten years helping to transform RPC from a London insurance firm into an international, multi-disciplinary professional services business.

The firm delivered five consecutive years of double-digit top and bottom-line organic compound growth when the rest of the market stagnated following the Global Financial Crisis, won Law Firm of the Year three times, won the Managing Partners’ Forum’s strategic leadership award and was named five years running as Best Legal Employer. Jonathan was also twice-named within The Lawyer’s Hot 100 lawyers in the UK.

After ten years as managing partner, he retired from the firm in 2016 to help lawyers and leaders of lawyers cut through to what matters and emulate the simple things successful people do differently in private practice. No theory, no platitudes, just practical common sense guidance on what matters most in the real world of commercial law, why and how to do it to get ahead. And in 2024 he encapsulated this in his book How To Thrive In A Commercial Law Firm.


He has also combined his entrepreneurial streak with his passion for understanding people and relationships and co-founded Quintillion, a technology group that develops cognitive and behavioural analytics. Quintillion’s flagship product, myTeamRadar, uses next-generation human factors visualisation to help reveal, diagnose and resolve hidden performance and wellbeing problems in teams.

"Under managing partner, Jonathan Watmough's leadership, RPC has become one of the most vibrant and best-run firms in the mid-market."

Jonathan Watmough was twice named in The Lawyer's HOT100 lawyers in the UK


"Cultural integrity and a move upmarket sees RPC named Firm of the Year."

Under Jonathan Watmough's leadership RPC won The Lawyer's Law Firm of the Year in 2014


"Praised by judges for its strong financial results, being 'innovative' and for 'really looking after its staff', the firm impressed on a number of levels. But what particularly impressed the judges was not its financial performance but the steps RPC has taken to position its business for the future - and the efforts it is taking to keep its staff happy."

Under Jonathan Watmough's leadership RPC won Legal Week's Law Firm of the Year in 2015


"If you keep your people happy, then your clients will be happy too. Led by a Managing Partner who has no office and the same desk as everyone else who works in this open plan office, RPC achieved outstanding financial results in 2015, and has earned recognition as Best Legal Advisor by Legal Week for the last 5 years. Innovative initiatives to support employeees, a well-developed social-inclusion plan, and an unrelenting focus on understanding the needs of clients, have earned recognition as Best Legal Employer over the same five year period."

Under Jonathan Watmough's leadership RPC won MPF's Strategic Leadership Award in 2016


How To Thrive In A Commercial Law Firm is Jonathan Watmough's 2024 book about people, relationships & leadership in law firms - book cover

For those who want to know how lawyers, leaders and law firms can thrive in a changing world

Whether you're an aspiring associate or a managing partner, how good you are at people, relationships and leadership will determine your personal, professional and business success.

These are skills which are not taught at law school and which many firms preach but few practice.

Jonathan Watmough led an award-winning City law firm for ten years.

He lifts the lid on what makes lawyers and law firms tick.  Why people, relationships and leadership are fundamentally important for lawyers, lawyer careers, law firm success and life.  Why they matter more than ever in a changing world.  And how to master them.

Building a long-term career by fitting in professionally

Making the leap from being a fee earning resource with a job to being a senior lawyer with a long-term law firm career is about putting yourself in the game and the best possible position to win internal business by fitting in professionally.

I will help you take control of a hierarchy of great choices about what you do, who you do it with and how you do it:

What you do - the Biology of Role Fit

 Finding a role to which you are naturally suited is fundamentally important and relies on you:

Playing to your strengths. 

Doing what makes you happy.

Taking control of your career and choosing wisely.

Who you do it with - the Physics of Business Fit

This is about aligning your current and future external commercial value with the team's direction of market travel and the team with the firm's direction of market travel. This relies on evaluating:

The commercial value of your practice area.

Your commercial fit with the team.

The team's commercial fit with the firm.

How you do it - the Chemistry of People Fit

This is the aspect of fit which most lawyers (and most people) tend to find both the hardest and the most elusive but ultimately makes the most significant difference – people fit, or the ability to build high-quality relationships of mutual trust. This relies on:

Earning the trust of colleagues and clients by being self aware, managing your behaviour, connecting with others, showing up in person and being firm but fair with people.

The team and the firm earning your trust by delivering on your personal needs, your career needs and your professional needs.

The rules
of building a long-term law firm career



No. 9


We are products of our choices. Engineer a hierarchy of great choices – your natural fit with the right role, your business fit with the right team and firm and your interpersonal fit with colleagues and clients. But give those choices time to work, relationships to build and opportunities to appear.



No. 10


Be sure you have the drive to last the course and the willingness to go out of your comfort zone and build the skills to sustain a long law firm career.



No. 11


Be sure to find a role that balances growing levels of challenge with your growing skill levels. Life's too short to spend an undue amount of your career either bored or anxious.



No. 12


Your economic future will be rosier if you choose a practice area which is commercially valuable over the long term - either a Star area that is the new big thing or a Cash Cow which firms milk.



No. 13


Choose a team and a firm where your practice area is either current core business or likely future core business. Core businesses attract the most attention, investment, support and reward.



No. 14


You will thrive only if you are in an environment where your professional, career and personal needs are reasonably well met. You will get to what you want by focusing on getting what you need.



No. 15


Your unique behavioural hard wiring is your strength but can also be your worst enemy. Your behavioural blindspots can let you down, especially when the pressure is on. Understand who you are, why you tend to behave as you do and manage these downside risks by choosing to behave differently when necessary.



No. 16


The quality of your professional life will be dictated by your people skills and resulting relationships with colleagues and clients. In a world where many people are faking it, you need to see through the mask and understand who someone is and what they feel to connect with them properly and build high-quality relationships. Stop broadcasting and start listening.

Building a long-term career

Becoming a successful partner by standing out personally

Making the leap from being a senior lawyer with a law firm career to becoming a successful partner is about being able to take external market share from others by standing out personally. The ultimate arbiter of this will be how good you are at building lasting trusting relationships with those with the gift of the work.


I will help you take control of doing what it takes to achieve this:

Fitting into the team and the firm professionally

You will only be given an opportunity to build an external business if you first fit in professionally internally. There are no shortcuts.The surprising truth, however, is that the origins of your success in building the external relationships that matter most, will likely be your success in first building trusting relationships inside the firm. More often than not, it will be the sum total of the reasons for your success in building the external trusting relationships that matter most.

Building within you what it takes to become a business

Few become commercial lawyers in private practice to build and become a business. Nor is it natural for many commercial lawyers. It's not for everyone. This means you will likely have to become very comfortable outside your comfort zone by:

Understanding what you are getting into and having the inherent commitment to stick at it. 

Creating an environment around you that can support you in becoming and remaining a business.

Building the new skills required to develop business.

Building the personal discipline to become and remain a business.

Building the right personal credibility

The type of people you aspire to have lasting trusting relationships with will be weighing up your ability and your track record. This can only be built and earned the hard way by tucking in behind and learning from genuine experts over a long period of time. The are no workarounds.

Building and iterating the right competitive strategy

Taking market share from others will require you to have a differentiator from them. This is your competitive advantage and the essence of strategy is to concentrate that strength against your competitors' weaknesses by:

Taking control of both projecting yourself and defining how you want others to see you.

Taking that competitive advantage to market externally.

But also going to market internally by helping out thankful colleagues who need support.

Building your score and staying in the game

It might become a get-rich-slow scheme, but it will never be a get-rich-quick scheme. Application, adaptability and perseverance are required.

The rules
of becoming a successful partner



No. 17


Few become commercial lawyers to build, run and become a business, and even fewer will find it natural. It requires significant additional commitment, skills, discipline, perseverance and the right supportive environment.



No. 18


The challenge is to not just win your fair share of business but to take external market share from others.



No. 19


Your track record must bear scrutiny and will be earned the hard way by tucking in behind and learning from genuine experts over a considerable period. But visibility usually trumps ability. You must also build and project a clear and authentic brand of who you are and why that should matter to the type of people you want to work for.



No. 20


Your credibility and brand must stand out from the crowd. To take market share, you need a competitive advantage.



No. 21


Networking without following through on relationship building is just performing. What counts is not just finding those with the work you want to do but building lasting trusting relationships with them – usually by giving a tremendous amount without condition or expectation of anything in return.



No. 22


Your success in building the external relationships that matter most will most likely depend on your success in building internal trusting relationships inside the firm. Lay strong and deep foundations of role fit, business fit, and people fit, and the internal market can become a career-long gold mine.



No. 23


Facts change, and markets and people move, so be pragmatic, adaptable and just follow the money and the people. Never losing an existing client and gaining new clients when your best relationships move on is a repeatable winning formula.



No. 24


It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Stay relevant and match fit. Look after your clients and your people. Enjoy the work. Be patient, ride out the knocks and build a score relentlessly and methodically. Stay in the game over the long term, and you will naturally accumulate market share as others give up.

Becoming a successful partner

Start your journey
to thriving in a commercial law firm

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