University: Kings College London
Year of qualification: 2014
What attracted you to a career in law?
I’ve always been interested in the law and how it impacts everything we do on a day-to-day basis, which was what initially enticed me to a career as a lawyer. I can’t lie, there was also an element of watching TV shows that made the profession look quite glamorous. As my thinking developed, I became interested in business overall and so the corporate/business world of law was incredibly appealing.
Why solicitor not barrister?
I’m very much a people person; I work well in groups and felt that being a solicitor would give me more time and opportunity to do that. While I appreciate that barristers work with clients and solicitors, they’re less likely to be working in big teams for long periods of time. It was quite clear to me that the solicitor route would suit my personality better.
What do you think makes a successful application?
Successful application forms are tailored. These applicants will have spent more time on fewer applications and really thought about firms’ values, practice areas and industry focus. They’ll have made sure the application is tailored to those factors and highlighted how their specific skill set and experiences (legal or non-legal) complement the practice areas and the values of the law firm they’re applying to.
How does the qualification process work at the firm?
During a trainee’s final seat, they’ll have a meeting with the graduate recruitment team and training partners to discuss potential qualification options. The firm releases a jobs list, following which a further conversation is had with the trainees regarding their options ahead of them applying for the roles that appeal to them. They can apply for as many or as few roles as they like, and don’t have to have been sat in the department to apply if they feel that there’s a job they’d be able to do well using transferable skills from another seat.
They’re then asked to interview for those departments. The format of the interviews differs between departments, some will be interviews, while others might be talking through a deal or project they’ve worked on. Successful applicants are later notified of their offers. There’s also a second round of interviews for trainees who didn’t secure their first choice, as well as for the departments who didn’t find the right candidate.
Please outline your area of expertise. What might you do in a typical day?
I’m a private M&A and private equity lawyer but I also do some venture capital work, and general corporate advisory work. I’m quite sector agnostic in the deals I work on, so can be working on transactions in various industries, including media, real estate, energy and natural resources, and financial services. I tend to have several matters that I’ll be working on at one time.
As an example, I could start the day looking at a term sheet for one deal, before reviewing a mark-up for a share purchase agreement on another deal. I might then have a call to negotiate a new deal or transaction, while also working with the associates to review due diligence reports and/or ancillary documents they’ve produced. This is all while ensuring I am on top of the emails coming in on a variety of matters. There are lots of tasks in between all of these things as well – my work is a mixture of:
I get to work a lot with other departments too. As a corporate team, we collaborate with pretty much every other team in the firm, both in the UK and internationally. Often my work will involve liaising with a colleague in the employment or banking and finance team in London, or a corporate colleague from the Chicago or New York office, to collate and prepare consolidated advice for the client.
Please discuss a current/recent specific deal/case, outlining your role in the matter.
We recently acted on a very short timeframe for a real estate fund that was looking to dispose of a minority stake it held in a Greek-listed company. A term sheet was agreed and we had only a week to work on the disposal with a Greek buyer. The case was governed by Greek law but we’ve acted for the real estate fund on a number of transactions so took the lead on this transaction. We had to negotiate an SPA and all the completion mechanics, work with local lawyers to make sure the completion process was correct and appropriately drafted, as well as properly executed. We also had to work with a buyer that was unable to be flexible due to its own internal policies, and a client on our side that was very keen to get the transaction over the line because of the long-term benefit for them.
We worked through the weekend and evenings to agree the drafting of the transaction documents with the buyer’s lawyers to reach a mutually acceptable position.
What do you most/least enjoy about your career and why?
The aspect I enjoy most about my career is the variety. I can be working on several things at one time and no transaction is ever the same. Even though I’ve been doing this job for almost a decade, I still enjoy the challenge that comes with the work – it’s still interesting and I’m always having to think on my feet about how to best address a problem.
On the other side, like most lawyers, I least enjoy the admin element such as time recording. That said, now I’m a partner I see the benefits and importance of it because at the end of the day, it’s how the firm makes money – it’s a necessary evil.
How involved are you with business development and promoting the firm?
As a partner, I’m massively involved in business development (BD). One thing I’d say about Reed Smith is that it’s been great at encouraging me to get involved throughout my career. As it was so encouraged from the early stages of my career, it’s now part of my everyday life. I work on pitch documents with our BD team, attend industry events or meet potential and current clients – there’s a BD activity taking place on a daily basis and I’ll be involved in some way.
What makes your firm stand out from the rest?
Reed Smith has high-quality work with great clients that are big names in their respective industries. We get to work with top clients in the industry in an environment that’s friendly, nurturing, entrepreneurial and team orientated. In my view, we’re not a cut-throat firm – we’ll always work together to ensure we achieve the right goal for the client but are appreciative and cognisant that everyone has a life outside of work; sometimes it might mean I have to work a bit extra because a colleague is unable to move an external commitment and they’ll do the same for me. We really do work together to make sure we all get to maintain high-quality work and be involved in the transactions, while also sustaining a version of our private and personal lives that we’re happy with.
What advice do you have for budding solicitors who are contemplating a career in law?
My advice for budding solicitors is to make sure you research the different opportunities – for some people, the best fit will be a City firm, while others will find that a career in a boutique or regional firm might suit them better, and some might prefer an in-house role. They’re all great options but it’s about finding the right fit for you, so take every opportunity you can to get varied experience.
Candidates should also make the most of opportunities to get into firms’ offices, whether that’s via open days or insight evenings. Even once you decide on the type of firm you want to work at, each firm has its own personality so you’ll need to do some work to find the firm that best fits you.
What diversity and inclusion initiatives does the firm have in place?
There’s so much diversity and inclusion (D&I) work happening at the firm, which is encouraging. We have lots of business inclusion groups, including our multicultural network, LGBTQ+/PRISM network and disability network – every aspect is considered and there are opportunities for everyone to be involved. Each group has its own initiatives – for example, networking, allyship, talks and presentations. We also look at recruitment and retention of staff, making sure that people from different groups are supported throughout their career, from the very beginning to partnership. The same support is offered for non-fee-earning staff.
We’re also very open to doing more. We appreciate that we don’t have all the answers, so everyone is encouraged to bring ideas to the table. There are committees that meet every month to talk about how we increase diversity in recruitment – we’re taking a very detailed approach to this to ensure we’re encouraging a range of applicants to come to Reed Smith.
What’s the biggest opportunity you’ve been given since joining the firm?
I’d say that it’s the opportunity to prove yourself and show you can take on any challenge. I’ve used this mindset to help me join several committees – I was an associate representative at Reed Smith, which gave me a great opportunity to advocate for the associate body in London to the firm’s management, all the way up to the global managing partner. As part of this, I sat in several meetings to advocate for the associate position and ensure that the views and voices of associates were heard.
What’s your favourite TV show/movie?
Recently, The Bear. I love the chaotic mix of food, drama and family.