At Crafty Counsel, we regularly focus on getting to know more about members of our in-house legal community. This week we speak to Ivan Milatović, Legal Manager at publishing company Hachette UK.
Ivan is also a member of Crafty Counsel’s community. We have several community groups, including called Lean Legal, our group for sole counsel or those working in smaller legal teams, which meets regularly for virtual and in-person events.
After graduating with an LLM from the University of Cambridge in 1996, Ivan trained as a solicitor at Ince & Co before joining Magic Circle law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, where he worked for six years. He then took what he describes as a “left turn” when he became a university lecturer. “I went to BPP University Law School, where I stayed for 14 very happy years,” he says. Ivan took a break from teaching at BPP in 2009 for a short stint to work for the government legal service.
He left BPP in 2021 and now works in an in-house team of eight lawyers for the publishing company Hachette UK.
Acing it courtside
Ivan is a tennis official in his spare time. “The pinnacle of that is that I’ve been a line judge at Wimbledon” This summer was his eighth time officiating at the tournament. “I’m one of the people that stands in the background, looks very severe, and screams out very loudly every now and then. It is great fun.”
Being a tennis official means Ivan needs to be able to think on the spot. “It demands a lot of concentration,” he says, “No faffing, and you can’t dilly-dally; you have to call it as you see it in that split second.”
Favourite part of your current role?
In Ivan’s current role, he finds the process and problem-solving of creating and publishing books fascinating. “The things you see in a book that look innocuous might hide a story behind them,” Ivan hints.
What have you learned from other Crafty Counsel Community members?
Ivan has leaned on the Crafty Counsel community for technology recommendations. “I’ve asked people about matter management systems; how to handle documents, email correspondence, and all that. And people have given me some excellent tips that I’ll hopefully be using at some point.” He says that getting pointers on how to source solutions and who to talk to has been invaluable.
What is something that you are really proud of?
“Being the father of two amazing girls would be number one. Professionally, I would say being able to adapt.” While working at BPP, Ivan worked on developing courses for the Solicitors Qualifying Exams (SQE). The SQE and Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) are replacing the traditional route to qualifying as a solicitor in England and Wales, which included passing the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and getting a much-coveted training contract. He describes it as “turning the ship around in a new direction”. “It required a lot of lateral thinking and interpersonal skills,” Ivan says.
Ivan is proud of his varied career, including his work as a tennis official. “I’m proud of actually being at Wimbledon… You can’t believe you’re there. They’re paying you for things that other people would kill to pay for,” he says.
What’s one cool thing that you’ve seen in legal recently?
What intrigues Ivan is getting to grips with how the financial side of the business impacts the work the legal team does.
“This is maybe nerdy, but one cool thing was when the legal team got given a presentation about finance. And the finance background to publishing a book was really interesting; how they actually work out the nuts and bolts in order to assess whether a book will be a success.”
“I found it fascinating seeing how the financial side interacts with the work we do for the company. I found that really interesting because I thought, ‘Right, this is the spine of what I do. This is why I’m there.’”
What’s been one of the biggest challenges in your in-house career journey?
“Because I’ve never worked in the publishing industry before, getting used to the industry and understanding its workings has been a challenge,” Ivan says. Specifically, he mentions having to grasp the relationships between the different stakeholders, learn about the business side of publishing, and understand where the unique pressure points lie.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
- Don’t be afraid of change.
- Be confident in your own abilities to succeed in new areas.
- Don’t be afraid of switching out something; if it isn’t working, go and look elsewhere. You can find it.