From Suburban Solicitor to US Law Firm Partner – Rod Freeman – S4E13

This week on the Legally Speaking Podcast, our host Robert Hanna speaks to Rod Freeman.

Rod is an international products lawyer and Partner at Cooley LLP, and has been described as “one of the top product liability and product regulatory experts worldwide.”

Previously the Head of Global Product Liability and Product Safety at Hogan Lovells, he’s now focused on redefining the space at Cooley by finding creative and practical commercial solutions for the firm’s clients.

Rod is listed in the Legal 500 Hall of Fame, and was appointed by the European Commission for its expert group on liability and new technologies. He is also an industry representative in the OECD Working Group on Product Safety.

Topics discussed include:

  • His humble Australian roots, and why he moved to the UK to practice product law
  • The bold tactic he used to help him move from small scale suburban law to international corporate work
  • Insights from his work at both Cooley and Hogan Lovells
  • How modern product liability encompasses so much more than just safety regulation
  • More on his work to help shape product legislation at both the national and supranational level
  • The risks and opportunities of legal tech, even for technology sector orientated law firms


Robert Hanna (00:00):

Welcome to the Legally Speaking Podcast. I’m your host, Rob Hanna. This week. I’m delighted to be joined by Rod Freeman. Rod is an international products lawyer with more than 20 years experience supporting the world’s leading and most innovative companies. He Is currently a partner at Cooley LLP in London, where he has been building a product law team that focuses on creative and practical commercial solutions to worldwide problems. Rod previously worked as the global head of product liability and product safety at Hogan Lovells and has been appointed by the European Commission to its expert group on liability and new technologies. He has also been regularly ranked as a leading figure in the industry appearing in the lawyer magazine’s list of Hot 100 Lawyers in the UK for 2018 and appearing in the Legal 500 Hall of Fame. So a very, very warm welcome Rod.

Rod Freeman (00:54):

Hi Rob. Thanks very much!

Robert Hanna (00:56):

Absolute pleasure to have you on the show. And before we dive into all your amazing achievements and legal experiences to date we do have a customer question here on the Legally Speaking Podcast. Which is, on the scale of one to 10, 10 being very real, how real would you rate Suits in terms of its reality of the show?

Rod Freeman (01:15):

Yeah, I mean, it’s an obvious 10, isn’t it really? I have to say, yeah, we, we, we look at Suits and we think, yeah, I know that person and I recognize that person. And really what we’re saying is there’s a bit of that in me and a bit of that person in me. And, um, I think the thing is that if you, if you have to accept, there’s a bit of Harvey Specter and Michael Ross, and all of those people said that as soon as a bit of little slit in all of this as well. So that’s, that’s how I say Suits. Yeah.

Robert Hanna (01:41):

And I love that. I love that response and it’s good to have a partner say, say that so good, good for you. Okay. You’ve got a really inspiring story. So I want to start at the beginning Rod. So can you tell our listeners a little bit about your family background and upbringing?

Rod Freeman (01:54):

Sure, sure. Um, as my accent, sometimes, sometimes it gives away I, I wasn’t born in the UK. I was born and raised, um, in Sydney, Australia, Sydney, Sydney is my home town. And in many ways I still, I still consider it home at home at heart. Um, although I’ve been in the UK for more than 20 years now, but I did, I did start my career in Australia and it was really in Australia that I became a products lawyer. Um, but I, I started my career in the Western suburbs of Sydney. Um, I was the first person in my family to go to university and it ended up managing to find myself doing a law degree at university. And back in those days, without some people around me to guide me in the professional or give me clues as to have navigate the profession. Um, I struggled to, to land anything at the big firms, but ended up at a, at a really, really great for them in the, uh, outer western suburbs of Sydney at the time was a, a seven partner high street practice, really. We, uh, we did, um, you know, conveyancing for moms and dads and families and, um, a little bit of commercial work. And, uh, and yeah, generally it was a, it was a, it was a nice little, uh, commercial/domestic practice in, in the, in the Western suburbs of Sydney. And that’s where I started my career. And at least in those days, um, I certainly assumed that’s where I would be for the whole of my career. It seems a long time ago now.

Robert Hanna (03:10):

Yeah. Yeah. Great stuff. And you mentioned you were the first member of your family to go to university. So what was it that inspired you to go to university and then specifically to study the law?

Rod Freeman (03:18):

Yeah, well, it was one of those things in LA I was doing okay at school. Um, uh, and yeah, it was good. I was getting reasonable marks and, and I guess on that basis, it was always assumed I would, I would go to university, but, um, it took me a long while to work out really what I wanted to do. I, I wanted to be a Marine Biologist and that was my, uh, that was my goal. And then as I started to hit my last two years of high school, I started to think a bit more about a career and realise that actually, while it might be fun to be a Marine Biologist sort of career options might have been a little bit limited. Um, and at that time I entered a mooting competition that, that my school had entered into. And, and I did pretty well in the, in the mooting competition. And that made me think really for the first time, actually, maybe, maybe a career in the law. Um, so within my last two years of school, I ditched a lot of my science subjects picked up a lot of the artsy type subjects and, um, ended up becoming a lawyer.

Robert Hanna (04:12):

Great stuff and look, you’ve achieved so much, um, throughout your career. But one of the things I wanted to ask is the transition. So why did you make the transition from Australia to the UK? And what was that like? You know, what were some of the differences and what made it quite challenging for you?

Rod Freeman (04:26):

Yeah, sure. But it was, um, it’s a bit of a journey, actually. I, um, as I said, I was, um, working in this high street firm in the suburbs of Sydney and I was there for many years and, and assume that’s where I would, I would stay. But after a few years there, I was, I was doing conveyancing, um, just property transactions for the families in the people in the local community. One day the partners came to me and said to me, Rob, you’ve been doing the property work for a couple of years. Why don’t you try your hand at some litigation? We’ve got a little commercial client that has, um, that they might have a problem that client at the time was Dow Corning. And that was really day one of silicone breast implant litigation, uh, so out of that seven partner firm, Um, in the suburbs of Sydney, I found myself pretty quickly in the middle of what was to become one of the world’s biggest product liability cases.

Robert Hanna (05:15):


Rod Freeman (05:15):

And I worked on that at that firm for a number of years before, uh, in, in many respects, the, the case, the job outgrew the firm. And I ended up moving to, uh, to a larger national firm. But throughout that period, I had a dream to spend part of my life in Europe and, um, had tried a number of times to, to make a transition. But again, being at a firm in Sydney, the, uh, the recruitment agents just weren’t interested, frankly, the big law firms weren’t interested in somebody coming from the firm. I was at it, wasn’t a recognised firm. And so nothing came off and it was really only as the breast implant litigation was starting to wind up after many years. And I found myself at a crossroads in my career, but I thought, okay, one last chance, one last call to get, get to London by that stage, I was a pretty experienced product liability lawyer. So I, I picked up the phone and I rang the partners that did product liability in London and really to some cold calls to partners who did what I did, um, I snagged the job. It was really something like three phone calls later, I was saying to my wife pack a bag, we’re moving to London.

Robert Hanna (06:16):

I love that. And again, you’re showing some of your partner traits already through just, you know, that, that BD side in you and that, that sort of picking up the phone side, but I want to still stay back to the early days, because you mentioned you’re up this high street firm in Australia, and lots of people will probably be wanting to know what is the difference between a high street firm and say some of these larger, bigger firms, what are some of the key differentials, if you were to kind of sum them up?

Rod Freeman (06:40):

Yeah, it is a big question. I really value that those first years I spent at a, at a, at a smaller firm and feel very privileged to have had that, that grounding, because I think one of the key differences is you’re much more in touch with human beings in the work and the work that you do day by day. I think in a, in a big firm doing, uh, doing corporate work, it’s sort of very easy to de-personalise it, you know, everything. Yeah. There’s a, there’s a lot of money at stake. Um, but it doesn’t necessarily feel as personal. Uh, you know, certainly when I started at the high street firm, for example, I did work writing wills and I had a box of tissues on my desk every time, the whole time, because every time somebody sits down and wants to talk through a will they cry. And, um, yeah, so I had learned the importance of the, the human touch. And I think that’s something that I take with me into the, into the work I do now. My clients now are much more typically, um, very large international corporations, but the people I’m engaged with are human beings and they are people, and they, they feel stuff and they’re trying to do a good job and they rely upon the, to help them do a good job. So I think that personal touch, I think can sometimes be lost in the big firm, but I had had a grounding in that, in those first few years and I think that has stuck with me.

Robert Hanna (07:47):

Do you know what that’s a really good point because even nowadays with the next generation of lawyers they’re always talking about, well, what do I technically need to be good? And I always say you’re a human first, then a lawyer. And I think actually probably having that experience you had right from the start, that’s always stayed with you. And I can just hear and see that sort of human side of you coming through and through, which is great. And obviously, probably one of the reasons you’ve got to where you are in your career. So what advice would you give to anyone potentially from Australia or abroad thinking of making a similar move to what you did?

Rod Freeman (08:14):

Yeah. I think the advice I would give from my experience is to not assume that the way things have been done in the past is the way things always have to be done. And as I, as I was explaining my roots to getting the experience in, in the UK was different to most because I wasn’t from one of the big firms, I didn’t sort of take that very normal route where in the larger firms in Australia, you know, the opportunities open up for an international international stint. I had to define by own way. So that, that would be something I would sort of say to anyone who’s sort of background is not necessarily straight out of the Australia, the cookie cutter that sometimes you need to, you need to find your own way. And like I said, my approach was to just assign them, it’s going to pick up the phone, they’re a little bit bold and bring some partners. Um, I was a junior lawyer, relatively junior lawyer at the time. And I can tell you that the partners didn’t mind being wrong. Uh, they appreciated that, you know, all of them, but not all of them offered me a job, but they all appreciated, appreciated the call. And so I think that’s, that’s sort of part of the key really that sometimes for some people, you know, there, there is a well-trodden route, uh, to, to a life experience, um, or a career experience for others. You have to, you have to find your own way, but don’t assume you can’t find your own way just because people tell you that’s, uh, that’s not the way it’s done.

Robert Hanna (09:33):

I love that mindset. I love that. Okay. And then you previously worked at Hogan Lovells for I believe, around 17 years. And what was that like, you know, tell us about some of those experiences and what you learned from, from your time there.

Rod Freeman (09:44):

Yeah, that was a, that was a great experience for me because yeah, bearing in mind that that was the firm I landed at, and that was the firm that gave me the opportunity to move to London. And, um, there was levels back in those days. And, um, and it really was a very rich, rich time for me to spend those early years at Lovells and that firm has evolved a lot, so it is now Hogan Lovells. And, and it’s, it’s not the same firm as it was when it was Lovells. But that, for me, for most of the time I was there its was Lovells and it had a good culture. Um, and it was very supportive of what I wanted to do. And certainly in those early days, again, when I came to London with fresh ideas and wanted to do things in ways that hadn’t been done before then I found that, um, I was given some opportunities and was able to spread my wings a bit and, um, and create a few things. And it worked out very well. And at the time I moved to London, I, um, I never assumed it would be permanent. Um, it was sort of life experience for a couple of years and we’ll see what happens, but, um, to a large part, because of the way in which the career worked out, I’ve stuck and been here for more than 20 years now.

Robert Hanna (10:46):

Great stuff. And then, so after that period, I think in 2017, you became a partner of Cooley LLP. And given that longevity of your time at Hogan Lovells, why did you decide to make the move? And are you happy that you made that leap?

Rod Freeman (11:01):

It has been fantastic, cause it has been one of the, one of the richest experiences of my career and of my life really, um, the, the move to Cooley. Um, there were a couple of things that sort of drove me to, to make a change. Now I think a change in a career is good sometimes. I, um, I wouldn’t say that to my, uh, my team around me, but the truth is that, um, that sometimes a change is good. And certainly for me, I was sort of looking at what the future held, um, and saw the way in which my work was, was very much focused on tech and in innovative companies. And I thought, well, I would like to be in a firm that is at the forefront of tech. Um, and I think that’s, I think that that’s, yeah, I, I want to work at the forefront of tech. So I wanted to be in a firm that that really was going to be at the top of that game for the future. And that coincided with me also wanting to find a big law firm that had a, had a different culture. You know, law firms are complicated, complicated beasts and, um, and, uh, and culture is a big thing. And I’ve learned that I learned that over the last few years that organizations have a culture and it’s very, very real. And, uh, if you had a good culture and lose it, it’s lost for good. And so I went on a bit of a search for, um, for a firm to have a culture that I wanted and I wanted to be in, uh, happily somebody who knew what I wanted said, have you spoken to Cooley? I hadn’t, at that time, I’d spoken to some other firms, but Cooley didn’t have a products practice. So they weren’t really on my radar, but this person kept coming back and saying, you really need to talk to Cooley. And once I did start to speak to Cooley, I realised actually, the, this is a firm that has a very, very real culture. That’s, that’s different to what I’d experienced before.

Robert Hanna (12:42):

Great stuff. Okay. So let’s fast forward to the present data. So tell us a bit about your current role and what a day in the life looks like.

Rod Freeman (12:49):

Um, each day is very different Rob, um, in some ways, but fundamentally what I have a big team around me of really, really smart lawyers, and what we do each day really is, uh, help companies deal with challenges relating to their products. Our clients, typically our product manufacturers and product designers, product developers, uh, ranging from sort of small startups doing really, really crazy stuff, uh, to, um, to the biggest tech companies on the planet. And, um, it’s a complicated world for them out there. They’re, they’re trying to do new things. They’re trying to innovate. They’re trying to get products on the market that have never been conceived before. Um, and the world’s a complicated place, so we help them navigate those problems. Challenges arise all the time. Uh, we help them solve those problems, deal with the regulators around the world and, um, and basically just, um, get alongside them and their technology and help them be successful. But it’s exciting for us because we get to really get very close to these companies and, and their innovations and their, their innovates mentality and approach to the world and get to become part of that and facilitate that. Often, I, yeah, I feel like we spent , we spent half of our time learning about products and how they’re made and how they work and what happens when they go wrong. And I often think to myself, this, this beats being a lawyer. You know, this is, uh, something that the law comes in occasionally, but fundamentally we’re learning about products and understanding the world and finding, uh, finding solutions for the companies. Um, so it’s, uh, it’s good fun.

Robert Hanna (14:16):

Yeah. No, it sounds fascinating. And as we mentioned since joining Cooley, um, you’ve been building a different kind of products law team. So can you tell us a bit more about what that means?

Rod Freeman (14:26):

Yeah, sure. Part of the answer to that is, um, yeah, whilst in many ways people would describe me as a product liability lawyer, product liability has changed a lot. And, uh, and what we do, we think about product liability in a much more holistic way because, um, for product manufacturers, um, the risks that they are managing, um, with their products is these days not so much the risk of getting sued because somebody got hurt that, that, that risk is certainly there and the risk that, that we help them avoid and, and manage. Um, but the risks to their, to their business are much, much broader. So a lot of it is around safety regulation and ensuring that products are safe and comply with the rules. And, uh, so that is very much part of product liability for us, um, as, as much as, as the risk of litigation. Um, but more and more even that’s evolving. And now it’s about sustainability and the circular economy and repairability and product obsolescence, privacy, cyber security. So all of these issues, um, are part of what we think of as modern product liability. Um, and it’s, it’s that approach to, to risk and, and our client’s problems that I think is, um, um, is the future, the future for the work, we do.

Robert Hanna (15:41):

Great stuff. And obviously with the, the pandemic, we’ve had to really kind of move to this virtual hybrid ways of working, but how have you found managing cases during the whole COVID-19 pandemic?

Rod Freeman (15:52):

Yeah, it’s certainly been challenging and, um, uh, not being fun the whole time. I think we’re all, uh, we’re all ready to, uh, to stop doing it this way all the time, all the time now, but, um, we’ve adapted, you know, we’re seeing our clients adapt very, very quickly and very successfully, um, and we’ve done the same, so we, uh, we’ve moved to a different way of working. Um, we speak to each other now, um, by zoom rather than face-to-face, but yeah, I have to say weekly, we no longer do telephone conference calls, which used to be a, uh, a normal part of life, but I’ve sworn I will never do a telephone conference call again. I think when this, this world in which we are always face-to-face in one form or another, I think as a much richer work experience. So in some ways you have certainly missed being face to face and in the same room and enjoying the interaction that happens when we’re together or with our clients in a room. But on the other hand, um, we’ve moved into this other richer experience of, um, of every, every contact really being a face to face contact rather than telephone context, which I think is something we can take forward to the future.

Robert Hanna (16:55):

Yeah, no, absolutely. I think it’s about taking the positives from the experience we’ve had where possible. Okay. And I mentioned in my introduction, you hold multiple leadership positions in the international product law community, and frequently work with policy makers about the future around product liability and product regulation. You’ve been appointed by the European commission to its expert group on liability and new technologies. You’ve also served two terms on the board of directors with the International Consumer Products, Health and Safety Organization. So just tell us a bit more about all these experts and how you fit it all in?

Rod Freeman (17:28):

Yeah. Yeah. Well, um, uh, I think it all in firstly, by having a really great team around me, so, and I couldn’t do it without them. Um, I have to say because, um, yeah, they do sort of keep the wheels turning while I’m sort of off talking to governments and policy makers about, about the future. Um, but to us, it’s, it’s all part of why we think we’re valuable to our clients because we’re not only able to tell them, um, you know, what the rules are now, but we also have an eye on what’s going to happen in the future. But for me, it’s, it’s just absolutely critical, uh, for, for the work that we do in a world where we are working with clients who are innovating products for the future, they need to know what the future, what the future holds. So, it’s something that I just have to make time for to, to spend time in those international forums and also have to play a role in influencing, influencing the future and helping make the right decisions about the future. But it’s, um, you know, it’s certainly one of the privileges privileges of having done this for a long time to, to be able to play that kind of role in, in the important decisions of the future.

Robert Hanna (18:30):

Absolutely really well said. And I mentioned again in the intro, you’ve been regularly ranked as a leading figure in the industry, appearing in the lawyer magazines top 100 in the UK for 2018 appearing in the Legal 500 Hall of Fame as a partner at a major firm, hold multiple leadership positions as we know, you know. What, what have you done to achieve this? Or what things would you pay back to people thinking, wow, I’d love that success. What, what, what, what would you say to that?

Rod Freeman (18:53):

I think, um, yeah, again, I would say that know everyone has to find their own, their own path, but my path was I think for a start to have a, have a vision for the future. Um, because I, when I landed in London, um, 20 or so years ago, one of the things I did was I noticed that there was some, there was some change coming down the pipeline under European law, uh, around in the world of product safety. There was some new legislation that I thought was going to change things fairly significantly. So I started taking an interest in that, learning about it, thinking about it and talking to my clients about it. And my predictions are right. That, that did become revolutionary for, for product safety in Europe. And I was focused on it really when no one else was.mAnd I think, yeah, particularly in the, in the legal profession, it’s a, it’s a very conservative profession and there’s a lot of impetus towards doing things the way they’ve always been done. Then focusing on those things proven, to be successful. Whereas my approach sometimes is if noone’s focusing on something, that’s a reason to focus on it rather than a reason not to. So I think for me, um, having that vision for what was around the corner, and I think I, and I think that has continued in, in what I’ve done. I’ve, um, I’ve been trying to look around the corner and predict where, where these changes are going to come from and what impact they’re going to have. So that’s definitely been, been part of it as well as I think, um, being bold enough to try things. As I said, that that haven’t been done before and building an international products team, uh, at the time, at the time I did it really, um, had not, not been done before, by any other major firm. It wasn’t seen as a big profit driver. I found a way to make it a very, um, a very successful practice. And, um, and because we were a little bit unique then, um, it’s, it’s become very successful. I’ve also been very, very mindful of relationships. Um, and my philosophy has always been, you know, you, you spend your time making friends, not enemies uncompromisingly and yeah, that applies, you know, in, in hard-fought litigation when there’s a, sometimes there’s a very aggressive sometimes perhaps a very annoying lawyer on the other side. Um, but why, why is the boy sort of making an enemy out of those people? I’ve always, always tried to develop a relationship, even if we’re opponents, even if we disagree with each other, even if we never see eye to eye, I always try to leave my relationships with other professionals, um, on a positive basis. I’ve really seen the benefit of that. Um, the, uh, certainly a lot of the opportunities I have now, a lot of the successes of the clients that come in the door, uh, are linked to relationships that I’ve built with people all around the world over a very long period of time. Uh, so that’s, that’s definitely something that I try to instill in the team around me. The, um, that those relationships are important to everyone is to be respected, uh, uh, fellow professionals are fellow professionals. And we, we don’t make enemies out of people. We, um, even if they’re competitors, if we don’t like what they’re doing, we treat everyone with respect and we build relationships. And it’s really important because, and, and it just, over time, it just brings up so many benefits as well as being a nice, a nicer way to work as well.

Robert Hanna (21:56):

I love that. That just oozes to me this, the, the professionalism that you bring to your job and you don’t necessarily have to like people, but having that respect and just managing relationships in the right way is always a good way to go about business. Okay. I do want to talk about legal tech because you are one of the best tech law firms in the world. Undoubtedly. So, you know, we’ve had lots of legal tech entrepreneurs come onto the show. We’ve had Legal Connection that are trying to create the WhatsApp of law. We’ve had Avokka that are trying to really dominate the automation space, you know, how much legal tech do you use in your current practice, and what do you think is the future for legal tech versus human legal work?

Rod Freeman (22:29):

I think, yeah, there’s absolutely no question that legal tech is going to reveal is going to revolutionize the profession. Um, and with every revolution of that nature yeah. That, um, that’s going to come with some costs, um, um, and it’s going to require people to, to adapt and change, but, you know, certainly in, um, in the work I do for example, I absolutely say a lot of what I do now. I’m not going to be doing in five or 10 years time. We spend a lot of time helping, um, companies understand what the rules and regulations are around the world, and it’s very fast moving and, um, and it can be very difficult to keep on top of them. And frankly it can cost a lot of money, uh, to, uh, to have, um, lawyers like us solve those problems. There’s no one else to do it and they have to ask us to do it, but it’s, um, it’s costly. And I don’t see that as being long-term. I see, you know, we are, we are plugging a gap until technology picks up and technology allows us to support our clients to establish that technology. And then we, um, we moved to a different way of supporting them. So, I see ourselves as currently in, in, uh, a transition with a lot of what we do, and we’re starting to leverage that technology to, to support our clients and to make what we do more, more efficient and more cost-effective because that has to be the future, but we’re not there yet. So I think there’s, there’s a, there’s a, a lot of change happening now. Much more change on the horizon.

Robert Hanna (23:53):

I’m, I’m super excited. I mean, 2021 has just burst on the scenes with all these new innovations and then NFTs had been top conversations, the wealth of the creator economy emerging all of these new tech advancements. So yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. You have to, you have to sort of listen and see what’s out there, but it’s getting the right balance and what works for each individual firm. Okay. So what key piece of advice would you give to anyone who’s interested in your particular area of law?

Rod Freeman (24:17):

I mean, one of the key pieces of advice is I think to, to be smart and be flexible. The work I do is changing all the time. Opportunities are opening up all the time. And so a lot of it, I think, is, is about being aware of the opportunities that are around and being flexible enough to take those opportunities, uh, take those opportunities when they come. I think, I think would be the, the, the key piece of advice. I mean I would say from a, just sort of looking at my own career when I spent those sort of first few years working in Sydney, I would not have even sort of dreamed of being a product liability lawyer that I probably didn’t know what a product liability lawyer was. Um, it just, it just came, you know, an opportunity came and landed on my desk one day and that was the opportunity I ended up grabbing and, um, and making the most of that particular opportunity. So sometimes in life and in careers, and particularly in law, you can’t always assume how it’s going to work out. Um, and you can’t, you can’t always predict that. You set your goals and you, and you try to focus yourself, uh, but also sort of keep looking sideways, uh, and see what trains are coming past because, uh, that train that goes past might not be the train that you, um, you were expecting, but that might be the one that gets to get you to, um, to where, where your destiny is. So, um, yeah, I’d definitely give that advice to, to young lawyers thinking about their careers to, to, to, to be focused on what they want, but also be looking sideways at the opportunities.

Robert Hanna (25:44):

Great advice. And obviously yourself, you know, you’ve, you’ve reached the sort of, the top. Everyone typically has that aspiration of perhaps wishing to be a partner in a law firm one day, how do you motivate stay motivated? What future goals, aspirations do you have for yourself?

Rod Freeman (25:59):

I’m still learning. I learn every day and I do, I do tell myself, yeah, the day I come into the office, I feel like I haven’t learned anything is probably a, that’s probably a sign that it’s time to stop, but that day’s never going to come because it’s such a dynamic area. And that’s what, that’s what excites me. Um, and I think even in my own area, yeah, the practice of product liability is very, very different now to what it was 10 years ago. And for the reasons I’ve said, it’s going to be very different 10, 10 years from now. So being part of that change is very exciting and very stimulating as well as working for the clients that we do, you know, these companies, um, just, um, uh, just have such amazing ideas and have such boldness and, and, uh, just doing things that I could not have conceived a number of years ago. So having the privilege, being involved at that level with those, uh, with those companies will continue to get me out of bed every day. And I’m sort of skipping into the office most days.

Robert Hanna (26:52):

And a couple of final questions from me, what one key skill do you think you have at the moment that if you, if you were to remove all of your skills from your, from your toolbox, what’s the one thing you would not want to lose and why?

Rod Freeman (27:05):

I think, um, judgment the judgment that comes from experience. Definitely. Yeah. Where I am now. That’s, that’s my big value add. I’m surrounded by really, really great, smart, smart lawyers. Most of whom I’m just in awe of in terms of the brain power that’s around me. What I do have over them is experience. Um, and I think, uh, to be a really effective lawyer, you need to be smart. And, but, you know, very often, especially with a lot of the things that we’re grappling with, uh, with our clients, there is no substitute for experience. You know, there’s not much I haven’t seen, you know, I’ve, I’ve dealt with the biggest problems companies have had. Um, so, uh, it’s very rare a client comes to me with a problem and I think, well, I’ve, yeah, this is the worst thing I’ve ever seen, that that doesn’t happen because I’ve seen some pretty bad stuff happen to companies. So I think that experience is probably what I leveraged most of the time, these days, that will always be valuable, I think.

Robert Hanna (27:56):

Yeah. And obviously, you know, we have been through a pandemic we’re hopefully coming out of that, um, fingers crossed, touch wood. Um, you know, we, we need to look after our mental health. We need to look after ourselves physically. Um, you know, what do you do for downtime? And sort of trying to get time away from the office?

Rod Freeman (28:11):

I’m a very big believer in, in downtime. I think, I think that’s absolutely critical. And, um, and certainly within our team where we do spend a lot of time talking about this and thinking about it and finding ways to ensure that everybody is finding their way to have downtime. For me, I’ve, um, have been a cyclist for a long, long time. I used to race. I had a bit of, um, racing in my blood and, um, I don’t race anymore, but I still, um, I still enjoy getting out on the road on the weekend, spending four or five hours out on the bike, turning out the miles and breathing in the air and, um, you know, switching off the brain. So that’s, that’s my way to switch off. Everyone has their own thing, but for me, that’s, uh, that’s been absolutely amazing.

Robert Hanna (28:51):

So that need for speed!

Rod Freeman (28:52):

Yeah. Yeah. That’s right. Um, I think there, there, there is a little bit of that in it, I guess.

Robert Hanna (28:59):

Good stuff. Okay. Rod. Well, I’ve been absolutely fascinated and loved having you on the show and I’m sure a lot of our listeners are going to have thoroughly enjoyed what you’ve had to say today. So if people want to follow or get in touch with you about anything we’ve discussed today, what’s the best way for them to do that. Feel free to shout out any web links or any relevant social medias or LinkedIn, and we’ll make sure we share them with this episode for you too.

Rod Freeman (29:21):

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And, and I’m, I’m certainly happy to be contacted at Cooley. My details are on the website. So, um, so usually sort of email is that is, is the best way, best way to contact me. I, you can find me on LinkedIn as well. And people do reach out to me on LinkedIn. Um, sometimes my responses are a little bit slower through LinkedIn, which is why emails are sometimes better, but you can certainly keep up with me on LinkedIn as well.

Robert Hanna (29:44):

Great stuff. Thank you. So so much, Rod, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the show. wishing you lots of continued success with your legal career, but from all of us on the Legally Speaking Podcast,

Robert Hanna (29:56):

This week’s review comes from Annie Lewis123, and Annie says: “10 out of 10! Would recommend. Really helpful for law students”. Thank you so, so much for your lovely kind words. And it really means a lot to all of us here on the Legally Speaking Podcast team. Thank you for listening to this episode of the legally speaking podcast. If you enjoyed the show and want to help support us, remember to leave us a rating and review on apple iTunes. You can also support the show and gain exclusive benefits, bonus content, and much more by signing up to our Patreon page, which is Thanks for listening.

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