University: University of Warwick
Degree: Law with French law
Year of qualification: 2021
Department: Digital economy – tech transaction
At school, the subjects I naturally excelled at were literature and economics – both subjects that require a lot of analysis and reading, so law was an obvious choice for me. Also, coming from a Nigerian background, you’re either a lawyer, doctor or engineer. I wasn’t very good at maths so engineering and medicine were out of the question.
The reason I chose to become a solicitor as opposed to a barrister was because as a solicitor, you’re more likely to be working in teams and I enjoy the collaborative nature that it entails. As a barrister you’re often working independently, which wasn’t something I thought I’d enjoy. Secondly, I like the consistency of working in a law firm, the workflow and the clients. Whereas as a barrister you have to find your own work and clients.
I first researched law firms using online data bases and took advantage of websites like LawCareers.Net. I also spoke to the people who worked at the firms to get a better understanding of the culture and the work they do. Reading online profiles and websites makes the firms all sound quite similar but when you speak to the actual people at these firms, you get a better feel for the culture and type of work.
I’d had quite a bit of work experience before applying for a training contract, including shadowing a barrister in England and working in a commercial law firm in Nigeria. These experiences were important for two reasons: first, it helps you understand what kind of work you’ll be doing and whether it’s the right career for you; and second, it helps your future employer see that you have an understanding of the kind of work you’ll be doing with them, and shows your commitment to a practice area and career in law.
I trained in four departments. My first seat was in real estate, followed by a second seat in finance. My third seat was in digital economy, the tech team, and my final seat was in corporate transactions.
One of the deals I worked on as a trainee was the 2Africa deal. The deal involved advising Meta on building the world’s largest subsea network cable, which spans 45,000 kilometres across 33 different countries. The aim of the project is to bring faster internet connectivity to Africa. It’s very interesting because it’s cutting-edge work and we get to work with lawyers in different jurisdictions. It was a big project that we’d been working on for a couple of years, and my role involved liaising directly with the clients. I helped coordinate the daily catch-up calls with the client. I also drafted documents and liaised with team members.
The digital economy team is split into IP, data protection, telecoms and general commercial contracts – I deal mainly with commercial contracts and IP. On a typical day, when I arrive in the morning I check my emails, create my to-do list and probably have to set up a call with the client on the documents I’m working on. After the call, I’d spend time marking up the document in line with what was agreed and discussed on the call, and I might have to conduct research for another matter. For example, we’re currently advising a client on the process to follow when they get claims from consumers. Ultimately my day is quite varied.
I most enjoy the type of work I do and the clients I deal with, which include household names. I least enjoy the sacrifices you sometimes have to make when you have to work late or at the weekend as this can take you away from your family and hobbies.
My firm stands out because of its people, combined with the type of work we do. The people I work with are friendly and approachable, the partners are willing to teach you and you’ve also got the good work – it’s this combination that makes the firm distinct.
In terms of the skills and strengths required to be a successful solicitor, there are probably three that jump to mind: attention to detail, problem solving and being personable.
First, it’s important for solicitors to be able to spot issues or details that might become bigger issues for the client in the future. With regards to problem solving, when solicitors are working on deals, you need to be able to find a compromise between what the other side wants and what your client wants. Finally, there are a lot of lawyers and a lot of law firms, and people generally just want to work with those they like.
The advice I have for budding solicitors who want a career in law, would be to not get disheartened when you get rejections because it’s all part of the process. You just need to keep at it and stay motivated.
In terms of applications, I’d encourage aspiring lawyers to research the firms and tailor applications so when firms read it, they know you’ve put the effort in and understand what they do, who their clients are and how you fit into that firm.
The firm has a good culture and there are also lots of networks – for example, there’s the Ashurst Black Network and in celebration of Black History Month they hosted a musical event to showcase different African music. We also have the Spectrum network, which is the firm’s LGBTQ+ network. Earlier in the year they put on a Mardi Gras drag talent show, which was quite fun! Individual teams also have their own specific events. For example, once a year there’s an annual team retreat away day – we had pasta making for ours this year, some teams go international, to places like Barcelona or ski trips, which is a nice way for junior and senior team members to get to know each other outside of work.
It’s a mix of both. We have work that we generate ourselves as a team but we also provide corporate support on corporate matters, for example on the IP or data protection aspects of deals.
I’d love to do a Kenya and Tanzania trip. So, I’d go on the safari in Asilia and then head to Zanzibar for the relaxing holiday vibes.