University: University of Southampton
Degree: Bachelor of Laws, LLB Law
Year of qualification: 2011
Department: Banking and finance
What attracted you to a career in law?
I attended Wolverhampton’s Girls’ High School, which was an academically focused environment and due to the students’ high academic achievements, we had the typical professional careers presented to us as good options for our futures, such as medicine, law and accountancy. I enjoyed English literature and essay-based subjects and that led to me being ‘matched’ with a career in law.
What do you think made your application to Gateley successful?
My route to becoming a banking and finance lawyer was very unusual and not the typical path most students would take. When I completed the Legal Practice Course (LPC), we were in the middle of the 2008 economic crash so training contracts were scarce. After working as a paralegal for 18 months, I got a training contract at a small city-based firm and was called in November 2011. I then had an opportunity to move to Canada, which I took. I took the Bar exams, qualified as a lawyer and practiced at a regional law in real estate and general corporate law. When I moved back to England in 2016 the recruitment agency I was working with recognised my corporate and real estate experience and encouraged me to consider banking roles as this experience was suited to the available roles in real estate finance. So I interviewed at a couple of law firms, including Gateley, and the rest is history!
What do you wish you’d known about being a trainee before you started that you now do?
As a law student, it’s likely that you’ll be encouraged to plan your life to the T – graduate from university, take the LPC and get a training contract. I would encourage students to consider any opportunity that they’re presented with even though they’re not part of the “plan”. You never know where you might end up!
Please outline your area of expertise. What might you do in a typical day?
I’ve been working in the banking and finance team in Birmingham for five and a half years. My expertise is in real estate finance which usually means I deal with financing the acquisition or development of large commercial buildings, factories, retail units and residential developments.
On a typical day, I may have calls with clients (eg, one of the many high-street clearing banks that we act for), take instructions from a client, draft loan agreements, security documents and other types of corporate documents required as part of the transaction. A big part of my job role is project management; in each transaction, I must liaise with other professionals, which may include colleagues in the real estate team and the construction team, lawyers acting for the other-side and overseas counsel where other jurisdictions are involved. I have to oversee the transaction to ensure all matters are progressing so that the deal completes by the agreed deadline.
What makes your firm stand out from the rest?
Gateley has shown that it’s a pioneer in the legal market and it’s taking steps to grow the firm in innovative ways. Typically office-jobs can be portrayed as mundane but at Gateley everyone is friendly and there’s a genuine family-feel in our office. We run a lot of social, sports and charity events, which encourage everyone to get involved. I love working here!
What is the work-life balance like at your firm? How often do you have late nights/work at weekends?
This varies depending on which team you are in. In some teams, you can expect the typical nine to five, however, in the banking and corporate teams we do sometimes need to work late nights, especially if you are working on a transaction that has a hard-deadline. Although it can be difficult at times we all enjoy what we do. We thrive off the deal-buzz and the rewards of the job make up for any long hours!
What is the wider culture like – eg, are there sports teams/trips out? Is there a diversity, LGBT group, women’s group etc?
We have loads of groups, such as the football and netball team, and we host various charity, sports and social events. Gateley also has solicitors that are trained yoga teachers and pre-pandemic we used to have regular yoga sessions at the office, which was a fantastic way to de-stress at the office. This highlights the firm’s focus on mental health. We do work long hours and the firm recognises this, so there is a committee that promotes mental and physical health of employees.
We also have three internal networks called Pride, Inspire and Unity. I’m an active member of the Unity group whose focus is to recognise, celebrate and support employees from all different cultures, religions, backgrounds and those with disabilities. The makeup of the legal profession isn’t reflective of the makeup of England’s population so groups like these are important to encourage and grow a diverse and inclusive workplace. Gateley wants to encourage diversity so we also have programmes that involve lawyers from the firm visiting local schools and colleges to encourage those from ethnic minorities or disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue a career in Law.
What’s the biggest opportunity you’ve been given since joining the firm?
The biggest opportunity was Gateley investing time and money into training me to becoming a banking and finance lawyer despite not having any previous banking and finance experience.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I enjoy watching reality TV shows. I’m really looking forward to the new season of Selling Sunset – which brings together my love for reality TV and real estate in sunny California!