University: King’s College London, UCL
Degree: LLB, LLM
Year of qualification: 2016
Department: Corporate M&A
I was interested in studying law at university and the career was a natural progression, and a chance to develop my analytical and professional abilities. I was attracted by the mix of technical and interpersonal skills involved and the ability to work in a profession which offered involvement across a wide variety of industry sectors.
As I went through my undergraduate degree, I developed more of an interest in international and commercial law. The solicitor route was more appealing from that perspective, as it offered the chance to work in an international law firm across multiple jurisdictions and a diverse client base.
Given my interest in commercial law, I attended a number of open days and decided that I wanted to look for experience in firms with an international focus, with a larger network of contacts and clients who needed cross-jurisdictional advice. Kirkland fit those categories well.
I completed a number of vacation schemes and open days at various firms in London. I think it’s very important to get hands-on experience, as it helps narrow down the work which interests you. For instance, I did vacation schemes at UK firms, mid-sized international firms and US firms before deciding on the latter.
Every application is different but what was important for me was to highlight the reasons why I wanted to work at Kirkland, including the international focus of the firm’s work, the private equity client base (including the significant exposure to the clients’ operating portfolio companies) and the ability to get involved in deals from the outset. I also drew upon the experiences I had with work experience at other law firms which allowed me to narrow down the areas of exposure I wanted to get as a trainee.
Debt finance, restructuring, international arbitration and litigation, and corporate M&A. I then qualified into my final seat which was corporate M&A.
Often. Trainees are given as much responsibility as they can handle and hands-on experience is encouraged. Trainees are supervised at all times, but are expected to communicate with clients on calls and emails and attend meetings.
I was involved in an accelerated process for one of our private equity clients who were looking at acquiring a business in Northern Europe. I was involved in the process from start to finish, including conducting due diligence with specialist and international legal advisors and negotiating documents, as well as completion and execution of the transaction. I was fortunate to be involved in every aspect of the deal and carried this experience forward on future transactions.
The process is fairly informal. Each trainee is asked to provide their top choices (or single choice if that is the case) during their final seat and these choices are sent to the partners for consideration. Decisions are usually made quickly and the trainees are informed well in advance of completing their final seat.
That even if you’ve got a good idea of where you want to specialise, you shouldn’t be deterred from trying different trainee seats and departments. The skills you learn are all pervasive and you never know which department you may ultimately choose to end up in!
My role primarily involves offering legal advice in connection with mergers, acquisitions and sales of operating businesses for our private equity sponsor clients. A typical day can involve negotiating and drafting documents relating to current transactions, liaising with specialist and international legal advisors on technical aspects of the transaction, liaising with clients on calls and emails, transaction implementation planning and internal meetings and discussion.
We work very closely with the other departments and specialist teams. Collaboration is key when dealing with high-value transactions in a short period of time. While we will complete the key M&A and transaction documents within the corporate team, we will also work closely with our litigation, antitrust, IP, debt finance and tax colleagues to advise on various aspects of the deal.
I most enjoy the ability to develop my analytical and technical ability working in a firm where I am given a lot of responsibility. I also enjoy working on large, complex and international matters where we are advising the client not just on legal aspects, but ensuring that we add value in their decision making as part of the wider deal process.
This depends on the transaction work flow. There is no obligation to come in early or work late if there is no pressure to meet deadlines. Working remotely is encouraged. When a deal is in full swing, there are of course late nights.
The firm is very social. We have a football team which plays league matches with other firms/ organisations in the City every week. The firm also organises a party in both summer and winter to which all of the associates, partners, trainees and support staff are invited. The firm also encourages involvement in various diversity network groups, including our Women’s Leadership Initiative and our LGBT group.
In terms of graduate recruitment, I try to attend a number of law fairs and graduate open days throughout the year. We also do training and legal updates for clients, which we are encouraged to contribute to on a regular basis.
We have had the new cohort of NQs join across the board and it is great to see all the teams grow and see new faces at firm socials.
The early responsibility, the non-hierarchical work structure, our varied and international client base and the ability to make partner at a much earlier stage than on offer at most other international law firms.
I think one of the key skills is learning to balance the need to give clear, concise and accurate advice in a set time frame. As a practitioner you may be restricted both for time and the chargeable fee, and it is important to be able to strike a balance and be able to advise the client efficiently.
I would encourage aspiring solicitors to attend a variety of legal recruitment events, including university law fairs and firm open days, and in particular ask questions to existing trainees and junior solicitors at these events. It’s the job that you are going into, so there are no better people to hear from.
Driven. Meritocratic. Powerhouse.
New Zealand. Mountains, sea, astonishing scenery and a short trip to the South Pole. It has everything!