Mark Quigley, managing partner at Sintons law firm

MARK Quigley, apparently, can do a pretty good meerkat impersonation.

But, when I ask him to give me a demonstration of his talent, he’s a little reluctant.

What he is keen to tell me, however, is his vision for the future of law firm Sintons, wherein the North-East will play a crucial part.

The company provides services across a number of sectors, such as personal and family issues, business and insurance litigation, healthcare and personal injury.

Based in the shadows of Newcastle United’s St James’ Park, the business was founded in the late 1800s and provides work for hundreds of staff.

However, to stand still is to go backwards in business, and Mr Quigley, who studied a law conversion course at Northumbria University after an English degree at Cambridge and a masters in industrial relations at Warwick, says the company has no intention of relinquishing its strong footing in the legal sector.

To do that, he says, will require the company to go on securing work and attracting the best talent into its workforce.

But the 52-year-old, who cut his teeth as a trainee at what was then known as Allan Henderson, Beecham & Peacock (AHBP), says Sintons’ expansion won’t come at the expense of the firm’s North-East roots, with a structured growth plan from its regional base coming ahead of a tranche of office openings elsewhere in the UK.

He said: “The continuous challenge is to make sure we do a good job; it is a virtuous circle and about maintaining our standards.

“If we do that, the business benefits, the employees benefit and our clients benefit.

“We have got a good reputation and like to think that our clients value the fact we can offer a range of services.”

Mr Quigley, who rose to partner level at AHBP, says such a focus on service means Sintons doesn’t need to be looking elsewhere in the country.

With technological advances making it easier to speak to clients and the business’ team able to take advantage of handy travel links, relationships, says Mr Quigley, who has experience of advising and representing firms and organisations on compliance issues, are easy to forge and preserve.

He added: “There is an operational advantage being in the one office and it doesn’t mean we risk our reach because we work for clients locally and nationally already.

“The key thing is having the right people in place and we are keen to identify the best legal talent out there.”

Five minutes with… Mark Quigley

Favourite North-East building and why?

The Tyne Bridge. It means I’m almost home.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid?

Bar man at The Percy Arms, in Walbottle village, Newcastle. I can’t recall the salary but it certainly wasn’t a living wage.

What is the worst job you've had?

Without a doubt, a kitchen assistant at a low-end pizzeria in Newcastle, which shall remain nameless. It’s now happily demolished. Poverty level wages, irritant contact dermatitis and a broken finger made for a memorable summer.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner?

I’m a vegetarian, so how about a spinach and feta pie in filo pastry?

What would your superpower be?

Sometimes it would be nice to be invisible.

Name four people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party:

Assuming they are OK about vegetarian food, I think it would be fun to entertain Charles Dickens, David Bowie, the comedian Dylan Moran and Victoria Wood.

Most expensive thing you've bought - other than car or house - and how much?

I value experiences over things. We spent a small fortune on a family trip to the Canadian Rockies a few years back. The credit card has almost recovered but it was worth every dollar.

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why?

Caitlin Moran is fantastically funny and talks about things that matter in a very engaging way.

Favourite book?

Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens, gets a re-read every few years.

When did you last cry?

Happily, tears of joy tend to fall more often than tears of sorrow, the ending of Sebastian Barry’s latest novel, Days Without End, being a case in point.

What is your greatest achievement?

More their achievement than mine, but it’s my boys, Adam and Luke.

What's the best piece of advice in business you've ever been given?

Make yourself indispensable.

Favourite animal and why?

Aardvarks: I love the name.

Most famous person on your mobile phone?

Would you believe me if I said it was His Holiness, The Pope?

What was the last band you saw live?

Bear’s Den at The Riverside, Newcastle, in March.

Describe your perfect night in:

Curry, craft ale and Scandi Noir on TV.

In another life I would be...

A writer.

Who would play you in a film of your life?

The news of Bananarama’s reformation prompts me to suggest that Robert De Niro’s waiting, although there is no resemblance whatsoever.

What irritates you?

I think I’m supposed to say ‘stupid questions’.

What's your secret talent?

My impersonation of a meerkat is widely admired.