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Meet the lawyer

Bertrand Nzabandora

Bertrand Nzabandora

University: University of Oxford
Degree: Law (with legal studies in the Netherlands)
Year of qualification: 2020
Position: Associate
Department: Corporate (technology transactions)
Pronouns: He/him

What attracted you to a career in law?

I decided relatively early on that I wanted to work in the City and corporate law appealed because it matched well with my skill set (writing and arguing), which I refined at university.

Why solicitor not barrister?

This is a line from my applications from a decade ago but, despite my law degree (which I did broadly enjoy), I was more interested in using the law to facilitate commercial activity than in the law in and of itself.

Hopefully, the answers of prospective vacation schemers and trainees are slightly more imaginative these days.

Please outline your area of expertise. What might you do in a typical day?

My current practice focuses on advising clients on mergers and acquisitions, complex commercial agreements and intellectual property, primarily in the technology sectors. These sectors include AI, gaming and financial technology. I’m based in the San Francisco office, having first spent three years in the London office.

I also have experience advising clients on mergers and acquisitions, financings (Series A – C), complex commercial agreements, outsourcing arrangements, intellectual property and data privacy, across a wide range of sectors. These sectors include sports (eg, football, formula racing and esports), financial institutions, the automotive industry, consumer goods and technology.

What do you most/least enjoy about your career and why?

I most enjoy that I’m always learning, and I know that’ll remain the case for the rest of my career as a private practice lawyer. Of course, I know more than I did when I started, and that will be true again in 10 years’ time, but there’s always something new to learn on the horizon.

The least enjoyable aspect is the obvious: the hours can be very unpredictable at times. However, as you become more senior, you have more visibility as to your workload, which is nice.

What makes your firm stand out from the rest?

Allen & Overy is making a big play to becoming the first truly global law firm, with Shearman & Sterling. If nothing else, it shows the level of ambition that we have as a firm. They say that to stand still is to fall behind. This is something the firm remains aware of.

What skills/strengths do you need to be a successful solicitor?

As foreshadowed by my answer to what I enjoy the most about my job, the ability to learn (quickly) is possibly the most important skill. Other key skills are attention to detail, organisation and good people skills. This is a client-facing service at the end of the day, and teamwork is vital to providing said service, so being personable (internally and externally) is a core competence.

What’s been the highlight of the last month at the firm?

I recently found out that I passed the California Bar Exam, so I’ll be dual qualified by the end of the year. Studying for it, while working (until the final weeks before the exam), was a pretty suboptimal experience, so I’m glad that it paid off (and that I don’t have to do retake it).

What’s the biggest opportunity you’ve been given since joining the firm?

Being able to move to Silicon Valley to be part of the firm’s US push is an amazing opportunity to be part of a growing business, while enjoying the security and stability of an international magic circle law firm.

What’s your desert island disc?

Trilogy by The Weeknd. If you know, you know.