DLA Piper UK LLP
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University: University of Warwick
Year of qualification: 2015
Department: EU and competition
What attracted you to a career in law?
I had been fortunate enough to gain some legal experience through a temp role in the in-house legal department of a large, international company. The experience really made clear to me how law forms the framework through which businesses develop their ideas and make decisions. I knew then that I wanted to be a lawyer – working in partnership with a variety of business clients sounded very interesting.
Why solicitor not barrister?
I wanted to become a solicitor because I was interested in building long-term relationships with clients and really getting to know their businesses.
How did you decide which firms to apply to?
I’m half Swiss, half American and came to the United Kingdom to study, so with my background, I wanted to join an international firm with global reach. DLA Piper was a great fit – the work is so international and lawyers here interact with colleagues in different countries every day.
How much work experience had you had? Why is it so important?
As I mentioned, I had an administrative role in an in-house legal team during the holidays when I was studying, which was my first experience of law. Later, I also completed a couple of vacation schemes, including one at DLA Piper. Vac schemes make for great experience, as you are able to see the office you would be working in and get a feel for the people and culture at the firm.
Which departments did you train in?
My first seat was in commercial arbitration, which also included litigation on a range of general disputes. I then moved into corporate, followed by competition, and my final seat was in project finance.
I ultimately decided to pursue a career as a competition lawyer, where I could do a mix of contentious and transactional work across a variety of industries and jurisdictions – as someone wanting to build a practice with an international focus, it was perfect for me.
How does the qualification process work at the firm?
When I was approaching qualification, the process was quite formal and involved a written application followed by an interview. However, interviews are no longer part of the process for current and future trainees – soon-to-qualify trainees instead receive a list of available vacancies across the firm’s departments and then make a written application explaining why they want to join a particular team.
What do you wish you’d known about being a trainee before you started that you now do?
It’s definitely good to keep an open mind about which seats you end up doing. Don’t be afraid to try new things and increase your options.
Please outline your area of expertise. What might you do in a typical day?
Competition law broadly covers two distinct areas – the first being contentious and advisory work, while the second is more corporate-focused merger control. As a competition lawyer, you have to learn and understand your clients’ businesses and the international markets in which they operate. You essentially have to become a specialist in your client’s industry, which is really exciting.
Please discuss a current/recent specific deal/case, outlining your role in the matter.
I recently worked on a transaction in the IT sector, which involved coordinating merger files in various countries – it was a global deal which affected various jurisdictions. The experience was particularly exciting as I had to deal with lots of different sub-teams in different jurisdictions, and make sure that each of them understood the nature of the business that we were representing and what we were working to achieve.
What do you most/least enjoy about your career and why?
I really enjoy working with colleagues in our overseas offices, as well as local counsel in different countries – it means that I get to learn a bit more about their culture and way of working.
On the other hand, there is an administrative side to any role. For example, for the kind of merger notifications which I have been discussing, we have to produce multijurisdictional analysis – checking exchange rates are not particularly exciting, but it’s just part of the job.
What makes your firm stand out from the rest?
The international reach of DLA Piper is one of its key advantages – when working on a deal, being able to call colleagues who are overseas, but still in the same firm and therefore working within the same culture as you, is invaluable. Our international outlook also makes the firm an exciting place to work.
What advice do you have for budding solicitors who are contemplating a career in law?
Do your research. Making sure that you know the firms you are applying to, understand where they are trying to go and what their vision is. I would also advise keeping an open mind about types of work that you’re willing to try – remember that how a practice area can be described and what it is actually like to work in that area can seem completely different.
What’s your desert island disc?
I have pretty eclectic taste in music so it’s too hard to pick one artist to be stuck with. I’ll have to go with a chart compilation of some kind – as long as it’s something I can dance to!
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