University: University of Oxford
Year of qualification: 2016
Position: Senior associate
What attracted you to a career in law?
I studied chemistry at university but was clear that I didn’t want to pursue a career in the sciences. I knew that I wanted to be intellectually challenged, able to problem solve and to interact with people, and law ticked all those boxes.
Which departments did you train in?
Mayer Brown offers opportunities to go on both client and international secondments during the training contract. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I qualified, so I took the opportunity to sit in four different departments: pensions, corporate, insurance and real estate. Interestingly, I ended up qualifying into finance, rather than one the departments I had sat in.
How did the qualification process work?
Over the course of my training contract, I really enjoyed the transactional work I experienced but still wasn’t sure if any of the departments I had spent time in so far was the right fit. I worked with the finance department on various transactions during my different seats and it seemed like the obvious next step. The graduate recruitment team and finance partners were great at making it a smooth process and here I am three years later – a qualified finance lawyer very much happy with my decision.
What do you wish you’d known about being a trainee before you started that you now do?
I wish I had known that it’s ok to ask lots of questions and to not fully know what you are doing on day one. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Please outline your area of expertise. What might you do in a typical day?
My area of expertise is structured finance. I work mainly on CMBS (commercial mortgage backed securities) and RMBS (residential mortgaged backed securities) transactions. There is no typical day and that is why I enjoy the job.
In securitisation transactions we are often acting for lenders and borrowers, liaising with the client from very early on in the process to make sure that their commercial intentions are reflected in the documents. As the transaction counsel on a deal, we liaise with the various third parties involved, essentially performing a project management role in which we bring together all the parties and ensure that their intentions are reflected in the documentation. This may also involve negotiating on particular points if there is an issue with which the client does not agree.
Does your department largely work with other teams across the firm?
One of the great things about Mayer Brown is that it is a full-service law firm and there is lots of interaction between the different departments. For example, I work on RMBS transactions, which often requires looking at the client’s property portfolio – this is where the real estate team will get involved. To give another example, most transactions have a tax element and we regularly work with the lawyers in our tax department.
As well as inter-department work, there is also inter-office work. Many of our team’s transactions have a US element, so we frequently liaise with our US colleagues on both the US and UK implications of deals.
What do you most/least enjoy about your career and why?
I enjoy the fast-paced nature of the work, as well as the intellectual stimulation – no two days are the same. I’m challenged on a daily basis, which can be daunting but can also feel very rewarding at the end of a successful day where you have achieved something for your client.
The hours can be long, but there has been a push across the profession recently to instil more of a work-life balance. I don’t often find myself working at the weekend, but when I do, it is appreciated and does not go unnoticed.
How involved are you with business development and promoting the firm?
Even as a junior associate, I was involved in client pitches. Often clients want to meet the team that will be working on the transaction for them, not just the partner. To that end we also regularly go for breakfast and lunch meetings with clients – it is great for the client to know the associates, so that they already have a rapport with you when they call with a query during the transaction itself.
What makes Mayer Brown stand out from the rest?
Right from the start of my training contract, I feel like my preferences have been listened to by the graduate recruitment team and the partners. Mayer Brown are great at looking at the needs of the individual and listening to the opinions of associates when it comes to introducing measures such as flexible working.
Do you get involved in any extracurricular groups/activities at the firm?
There are lots of sports teams and groups to get involved with, including a five-a-side football team and a netball team which play every week. I play when I can, while there are also other things to get involved with such as our half-marathon group and the recent cycle from London to Paris which some colleagues completed.
Where is your dream holiday destination?
I would love to go the Maldives for two weeks. I would sit on the beach and not be contactable by anyone!