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Meet the lawyer

Jonny Corrie

Jonny Corrie

University: New College of the Humanities (University of London)
Degree: Law with philosophy
Year of qualification: 2022
Position: Associate
Department: Financial services (private funds)
Pronouns: He/him

What attracted you to a career in law?

For me, the reasons for starting a career in law are very different to those that have kept me here. I studied law at university and loved the jurisprudence and criminal law modules. Initially I’d wanted to work as a criminal barrister, mostly because I thought it would allow me to stay in close proximity to the cases and journal articles that I’d enjoyed studying.

After university I looked for any paralegal role that would cover the rent while I applied for training contracts. I worked for a bit at a commercial litigation practice and then at an early-stage venture capital fund. Having known very little about funds or the world of venture capital investing beforehand, the subject matter clicked for me and I was drawn to the pace and challenge of transactional work – these are the reasons why I ultimately applied for a role as a funds lawyer on qualification.

How did you decide which firms to apply to?

I found it very difficult to sift through the lists of firms online and during my first few rounds of applications I took a relatively unfocused approach to selecting firms. This didn’t work.

A friend (who’d worked as a legal recruiter) then helped me to break the market down into a few categories of firms with similar characteristics (eg, size; jurisdiction focus; remuneration; and type of work). For my final round of applications, I picked the category that resonated most with what I wanted from the job.

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

I’d completed short periods of work experience and shadowing at a handful of places by the time I left university, but none of these was at a city firm. By the time my application was successful I’d worked full time as a paralegal for a while. Although I’d enjoyed my prior work experience, I found working as a paralegal to be far more helpful for building confidence and credibility for applications.

Which departments did you train in?

Structured finance and derivatives, financial services (private funds), tax, and wavelength (our legal engineering team).

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

Private funds work primarily involves advising:

  • fund managers who are establishing a new fund; and
  • investors who are looking to invest in a fund.

There’s also a large secondary stream of work providing ongoing advice to these clients, for instance where a fund manager needs advice in relation to a new regulation that has an impact on how they run their existing funds.

At a high level, the lawyers working on a fund will draft and negotiate the documents that govern how that fund operates – for example:

  • the nature of the underlying investments that the fund will make;
  • the way that the fund manager gets paid; and
  • the protections available for the investors.

The work also requires familiarity with the various regulatory frameworks that impact how (and where) a fund may be established and operated.

What do you most/least enjoy about your career and why?

One of the best parts is that as you progress you do more of the interesting stuff and less of the boring stuff. The worst part is probably the volume of emails.

How involved are you with business development and promoting the firm?

When I was a trainee, business development involvement was largely related to graduate recruitment. Since qualifying, I’ve found a few opportunities to help promote the firm to clients, primarily in connection with our legal technology and AI capabilities.

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

In my view, the most important skill for a trainee solicitor is, by some margin, attention to detail. There are of course many other strengths that are important and become more important over time, including technical knowledge; communication; resilience; problem solving; judgement; legal reasoning; and commercial awareness.

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

I found applying for training contracts tough and disheartening. I had more applications rejected than I’d like to admit (including once by Simmons!). Once you’re through that hoop, it really does get better.

Does your department largely work independently, in support of another dept or is it routinely supported by other depts?

We’d usually be leading on a matter, in most cases supported by our tax team and sometimes also our regulatory team. The transactions that we advise on usually have a cross-border element, so we often work closely with teams in other Simmons offices.

Although a relatively small share of our work, we do support other departments, particularly our corporate team where they’re advising on the acquisition/disposal of a fund manager.

How often as a trainee were you communicating directly with clients (calls, attending meetings)?

As I think is fairly typical for trainees, I had frequent (supervised) contact with clients over email and during meetings.

What’s the biggest opportunity you’ve been given since joining the firm?

Since training at the firm, Simmons has given me the space and support to develop and trial a number of legal tech products. This has recently included assisting on a few instructions from clients to help build automation into existing work products.

What’s your favourite TV show/movie?

Arrested Development.