Workplace Leaders
Clyde & Co

Paddy Linighan

Paddy Linighan, COO @ Clyde & Co

Running a successful company is about colleagues, products and processes coming together to make an impact. Part of that success is due to creating a culture of care for those who work there.

Chris Mansfield, co-founder of GoodCourse, sat down with Paddy Linighan, COO of Clyde & Co, to discuss the importance of valuing lived experiences, leadership and the incredible initiatives that Clyde & Co are operating to achieve a more inclusive work environment. 

Paddy’s Journey

Chris: Can we begin with an intro to yourself, your role and your institution?

I am the COO with a specific focus on the delivery of our environmental, social and government strategy, in particular environmental sustainability.  We are a global law firm supporting clients to navigate trade around the world.

Our integrated teams of disputes, regulatory and transactional lawyers provide a comprehensive range of legal services and advice to businesses operating at the heart of global trade and commerce.

We will be ninety years old in 2023. Our success to date has been built on our vision of a single global partnership acting boldly, providing a platform that offers rapid access to expertise wherever you operate in the world.  

Chris: What brought you to operational and people leadership?

By profession, I’m a chartered accountant which was my route to fully understanding how commerce operated. I’m a problem solver at heart, and I realised very quickly that I wanted to influence the future outcomes of decision-making.

The impact of one individual can be minimal at times, but the impact of ten individuals collaborating and working as one is so much more than a ten-fold amplification.

But no truly impactful decision can be made in isolation, and all factors must be considered, including clients, colleagues, products and processes. The impact of one individual can be minimal at times, but the impact of ten individuals collaborating and working as one is so much more than a ten-fold amplification. Whilst people leadership can be challenging, the results achieved from successful collaborations are tremendously and personally rewarding.       

Chris: What personal passion is driving that part of your career?

It’s about doing the right thing and everyone being equal.  As an ESG leader, I have four areas of focus: to establish a best-in-class enterprise-wide policy and framework, to embed the policy across the organisation with consistent messaging and execution, to serve as the ambassador of how ESG permeates through all levels of the organisation, and to engage with all external supply chain partners to help them create more sustainable business strategies for their own organisations. When these all work together, massive changes can be made.  It is scary, but it’s not too late, and if we make the changes now, we can save civilisation.

Chris: What initiatives have you found work well when it comes to the promotion and embedding of ESG?

The pandemic has been the catalyst for a huge amount of change, but it has also provided challenges. Since Covid, we’ve focused on listening to and understanding the different perspectives of our people and ensuring this informs our actions. We’ve spent time running focus groups to help us understand our people’s lived experiences.  As an output of some focus groups we ran last year, we have rolled out mandatory race fluency training as we recognised that there is still widespread nervousness in talking about race within the workplace which we wanted to address.

We also have five employee network groups: GECCO (gender equality), Pryde & Co (LGBTQIA+ inclusion), ACED (Achieving Cultural and Ethnic diversity), PACT (Parents & Carers Together) and DNA (Disability, Neurodiversity and Accessibility).  These enable us to understand and celebrate our differences.  We also regularly arrange events on a range of D&I topics to help to raise awareness and tackle stigma, including speaker sessions on understanding menopause, transgender inclusion in the workplace, managing stress and supporting fathers.

Chris: How does the fluency training manifest itself for employees?

We focus on raising awareness before people join the organisation and point out from the outset that operating as a responsible business is at the front and centre of what we do.  The Clyde & Co Academy has been created to address the issue of under-representation in the legal sector for individuals from diverse backgrounds, with a view to ensuring everyone has an equal chance to succeed at the firm.

Our Early Careers team collaborated with Bright Network to develop this.  It consists of a series of tailored webinars, 1-2-1 mentoring sessions and drop-in sessions, covering topics including networking, approaches to applications and diversity in the profession, all of which will be virtually coordinated through Clyde & Co’s own ACED network. 

Chris: Can you tell me some more about your work with the First Generation Scholars Network?

The First Generation Scholars Network aims to celebrate and promote the achievements of people who are the first generation of their family to go to university or are from families, schools or communities where going to university is not the norm.

The network also provides the extra support First Generation Scholars may need to negotiate University life and get the most from their time at Durham. Whilst I can take no credit for the establishment of this network, I can really relate to the benefits our support can bring, having been a first-generation scholar myself at Durham University. 

Chris: How do you go about helping time-poor staff find the time for the amazing initiatives you offer?

We created the Responsible 60, where colleagues can dedicate 60 hours per year during work to any of our initiatives or schemes, including pro bono and sustainability efforts, to encourage their uptake.  We always want to ensure that we are providing not only the resources but the time to make sufficient use of them.

3 Quick-fire Questions

Chris: What's your top tip or most important piece of advice for anyone getting into the industry now?

Listen, adapt, and listen again — because the environment is always changing and evolving.

Chris: Who do you most admire in the legal sector leadership space?

My first senior partner, Robin Smith. His first-day advice to me back in 1993 was, “How do you want to be treated? Treat all your colleagues the same way, and you will do just fine.” That has stuck with me throughout my career.

Chris: What is the most important book you’ve read?

Perhaps not the most important, but my most impactful recent read was Windswept & Interesting by Billy Connolly. It’s about how your lived experiences can really form and change you.

Curious to see what the future of training looks like?
Chris Mansfield
Client Services
Chris is one of the Client Service leads at GoodCourse, dedicated to helping institutions better engage their audience to create a more inclusive, safer, and more successful environment. To request to be featured on the series, get in touch at

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