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Meet the lawyer

Tom Marshall

Tom Marshall

University: University of Nottingham
Degree: Law
Year of qualification: 2017
Position: Associate
Department: Banking and finance

What attracted you to a career in law?

It was a natural progression from doing a law degree. I was looking to have a career in a respected and long-term profession, and this was the next step for me. I was immediately drawn to the long-term prospects that a career as a solicitor offers and the rest is history!

Why solicitor not barrister?

I did think about becoming a barrister, but the key thing that appealed to me about being a solicitor was working as part of a team. As a solicitor in my line of work, you work as a wide team on all transactions, which a career as a barrister wouldn’t offer. I also wanted to work with clients regularly and build up long-term relationships, which is more unique to being a solicitor.

How did you decide which firms to apply to?

The first thing to impact my decision was location. I grew up in Reading and was looking at firms who had a good presence in that area after graduating – Osborne Clarke was at the top of that list. Aside from location, it’s a case of looking for firms with a good reputation who are performing well, and Osborne Clarke ticked all the boxes.

How much work experience had you had? Why is it so important?

Work experience of any shape or form is crucial to the application process and in terms of sussing out your future career, whatever you choose to do. In terms of legal work experience, I did a formal placement here at Osborne Clarke which I followed up with a vacation scheme. I received a training contract offer from that. Aside from Osborne Clarke, I also did vacation schemes and a couple of informal work experience placements elsewhere.

Which departments did you train in?

The Osborne Clarke training contract is comprised of four six-month seats. My first was in real estate where I did a mixture of commercial and residential real estate. My second seat was in commercial litigation where I had exposure to a range of litigious cases and other aspects of that work. My third seat was in banking, into which I’ve ultimately qualified. And my fourth and final seat was in our corporate team doing a mix of M&A and private equity work.

Please discuss a specific deal/case that you were involved with, outlining your role in the matter.

A memorable case from my time in the litigation team was a trip to the High Court which was a glamorous experience in my final week of working in that team. There was a lot of build-up work that went into it and it was really rewarding to see that all come together over a two-day trial. My role involved drafting statements of case, letters to the other side and assisting in the background work before the trial.

What do you wish you’d known about being a trainee before you started that you now do?

The thing for any new trainee to remember is that you’re not expected to know everything and it’s absolutely fine to ask questions, however basic they may seem. It’s much better to ask questions than muddle through. The atmosphere here at Osborne Clarke has always been supportive of that and I would advise any trainee to keep asking questions.

Please outline your area of expertise. What might you do in a typical day?

I’m a banking and finance lawyer. Here at Osborne Clarke we do a range of corporate finance, real estate finance and project finance which tends to comprise of energy work. There’s a broad range of work and as a junior lawyer you get to experience all of those areas. On a typical day my workload would involve drafting documents for transactions, dealing with a range of emails from clients and other sides, attending training courses and speaking to clients, either by phone or email, and sometimes attending meetings.

What do you most enjoy about your career and why?

I really enjoy the relationships we get to build with our clients. In my team, we work regularly with the same contacts at our clients, so that enables us to build longstanding relationships and work repeatedly with the same people. That’s great on a personal level because you can build up a rapport with people.

Please discuss a current/recent specific deal/case, outlining your role in the matter.

A recent transaction that I worked on was a refinancing of a big solar farm portfolio for one of our energy clients. There were 35 solar farms with a total transaction value of about £250 million. My role involved coordinating the various other specialist teams within Osborne Clarke on a cross-office basis, working closely with the client, dealing with both sides and working with the partner on our team on the transaction. It was demanding but really rewarding to see it over the line.

What skills/strengths do you need to be a successful solicitor?

As a lawyer you need to be very good at managing your time. You will have a varied workload that can fluctuate and there can be pinch points, so you need to be able to manage that well. It’s important to develop good people skills because ultimately your job boils down to the ability to build relationships and manage those relationships over a long period of time. General business awareness is also crucial. In the line of law we work in, it’s crucial to understand what our clients do – that isn’t something you know on day one, but it’s something you can build up over time.

What advice do you have for budding solicitors who are contemplating a career in law?

For anyone who’s looking to get into corporate, banking or commercial law, it’s vital to immerse yourself in the news, publications and industry press so that you know what’s going on in the world. You can’t see legal work in an isolated bubble – it has to be in the context of the wider world. It’s important to have that awareness so you can speak to clients about it.

How would you describe the culture at Osborne Clarke?

It’s brilliant and one of the things that really sets the firm apart in my experience. The culture is really open and friendly. Everyone is encouraged to speak to anyone, regardless of position. There’s lots of things going on such as sports teams and social events. That all fosters a good atmosphere on a day-to-day basis when you’re in the office.

Why do you like working in Bristol?

Bristol is an awesome place to be. I moved here in the middle of my training contract and think it’s an excellent alternative to London. It offers a good pace of life and is booming in terms of the work that we do. For a young person looking to start out in a career in law, there are lots of opportunities here.