At Crafty Counsel, we regularly focus on getting to know more about members of our in-house legal community. This week, we spoke with Tom Anghileri, Legal Counsel at Gearset. 

Tom is Crafty Counsel’s Local Ambassador for Cambridge and a member of High Growth, our community group for legal professionals working in venture-backed startups and scale-ups. Additionally, as a team of one, he’s also a member of Lean Legal, our group for sole counsel or those working in smaller legal teams. Both of these groups meet regularly for virtual and in-person events.

Unconventional routes: the early years

Tom’s journey is far from traditional. Initially pursuing a law degree, he found himself disillusioned by the academic side of law. A turning point came during an Erasmus exchange in Utrecht, Netherlands, where practical experiences and insights from legal practitioners sparked his passion for leveraging the legal framework to empower businesses. Following up through an LLM programme back in Utrecht, this experience abroad shifted his perspective and ultimately set the stage for the rest of his career.

“Sometimes, it takes a different perspective to help you find the passion that propels your journey.”

Crisis management as a catalyst for growth

After graduating, Tom began his career as an in-house lawyer at Booking.com, where he worked for five years. He then completed his training contract and qualified as a litigator at Mills & Reeve in Cambridge. After 18 months of litigation, he realised he had a preference for building relationships over litigation. This realisation led him to shift into a more commercial role at Taylor Vinters, where he spent three years with a mixed focus of supporting emerging companies and brand protection.

Tom’s journey took an intense turn soon after joining Subway, as the global pandemic hit. As Legal Counsel for a high-street restaurant franchise with thousands of franchisee-owned stores across the UK, Tom was on the front lines of navigating the complex legal landscape brought about by the pandemic. He oversaw a critical leasing project, even stepping into unfamiliar territories of project management and property law.

Despite enduring many tough times during this period, he highlights how the experience served to improve his adaptability and problem-solving skills, crediting this time for significant personal development.

“The Subway experience was a roller coaster of challenges, but also a source of great personal and professional growth, with crisis management and strategic decision-making being essential, everyday skills.”

Hitting the road

Beyond his professional life, Tom is an avid guitarist, playing in a couple of bands. He’s also passionate about classic cars and owns a 1969 VW Type 2 camper van, which serves as his family’s travel companion and his daily driver. Along with his wife and three boys, he enjoys exploring various destinations, attending events, and navigating through the UK.

One of his recent journeys took him on a camping expedition to Suffolk. Despite not embarking on extensive travels yet, he has already covered around 3000 miles since acquiring the van earlier this year.

The future: AI and beyond

As the legal landscape evolves, Tom’s eyes are fixed on AI’s potential to reshape the profession. He recalls how a fellow Community member at Crafty Fest likened AI’s role to that of an “overenthusiastic summer intern,” capable of tremendous output but not yet fully reliable.

Looking ahead, Tom envisions a future where AI becomes a powerful tool within the legal field. He imagines a scenario in which AI technologies team up seamlessly with trustworthy resources, offering legal professionals a strong and efficient means of research, risk assessment, and decision-making.

“When PLC gets a hold of it and starts using it, there are so many potential applications for it that could just make life really, really easy.”

Despite this optimism, he’s not completely sold just yet and highlights the importance of maintaining a cautious approach. Tom recognises that while AI can contribute to remarkable advancements, its outputs should be approached with critical thinking and a discerning eye.

Embracing the journey: Tom’s advice to his younger self

Reflecting on what he would have told himself at the beginning of his legal career, Tom emphasises the importance of finding his own path. His journey, from a disillusioned law student to tech-savvy legal counsel, showcases the potential for growth and adaptation.

Through his own experiences, he has come to recognise that challenges are not roadblocks, but rather stepping stones toward personal and professional growth. His advice to his younger self? Embrace challenges, stay focused, and enjoy the ride.

“What doesn’t kill you, right?”

Tom will be hosting the second Cambridge Crafty Locals meet-up on September 26th. These gatherings offer an excellent opportunity to network with fellow in-house professionals in an informal setting. Sign up here: http://tinyurl.com/mvjft9db.