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Meet the lawyer

Craig Kelly

Craig Kelly

University: University of Oxford
Degree: Law
Year of qualification: 2011
Position: Associate
Department: Corporate

What attracted you to a career in law?

My favourite subjects at school were English and history and studying law at university offered the opportunity to combine the creative use of language with the analysis of primary sources and commentary. Having enjoyed my undergraduate law studies, I decided to pursue a career in private practice to see if I could put what I had learned to practical use. I was also attracted by the problem-solving challenges a legal career would present and working in a client-serving profession.

Why solicitor not barrister?

I considered both routes initially but after completing a few mini-pupillages and vacation schemes, I realised that I preferred the work environment at a large international law firm, being part of a team and the ability to develop client relationships.

How did you decide which firms to apply to?

While at university I tried to meet representatives from a broad spectrum of firms, whether at events, through the university law society or at law fairs. I applied for vacation schemes at both UK and US firms and was fortunate to be able to experience both.

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

I did two vacation schemes during the summer before my final year at university and also interned at a law firm in the United States before starting the LPC. The importance of work experience cannot be underestimated as it provides you with the opportunity to see if a particular firm, or indeed the career, is for you. Many firms also use the vacation scheme as part of their process for recruiting trainee solicitors.

Which departments did you train in?

During my training contract I did seats in corporate, litigation/arbitration, corporate restructuring and banking. I went into my training contract expecting to qualify as a disputes lawyer but soon realised I preferred working in transactions, which is the great benefit of being able to rotate around different departments. 

How does the qualification process work at the firm?

From the beginning of the training contract, the trainees will meet regularly with the training partner to discuss how they are finding their seat, what future seats they may wish to do and ultimately where they would like to qualify. By the middle of their final seat the trainees will have met with the training partner to discuss their qualification preferences. The trainees are also encouraged to discuss qualification with the partners in their preferred departments throughout their training contract.

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

I specialise in mergers and acquisitions, which involves advising companies who are looking to buy or sell another company. There is no typical day and it could involve attending meetings, participating in conference calls, drafting advice, undertaking negotiations or conducting research. M&A transactions can be extremely fast-paced and unpredictable - sometimes a day can pan out in a completely different manner to what you had been expecting.

What do you most enjoy about your career and why?

I enjoy assisting a client to achieve their goals by guiding them through a complex regime while at the same time gaining an understanding of their particular business. I also enjoy working alongside some fantastically talented colleagues and being able to learn from them on a daily basis.

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

Being seconded to the Takeover Panel was a fantastic opportunity to gain an insight in to how public takeovers in the UK are regulated. My role as a case officer required me to oversee some of the most high-profile and complex transactions that have taken place in recent years. This was an invaluable experience and since returning to the firm, it has allowed me to pass on my knowledge to colleagues and be able to provide clients with a greater understanding of how the process works and the relevant issues that need to be considered.

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

An excellent understanding of the applicable law helps but also being able to convey complicated issues in an understandable manner to a client, articulate a client’s position to opposing counsel and work in a team effectively, while maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and dedication to client service. You also need to genuinely enjoy the work you do.

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

Try to get as much experience as you can at a variety of different firms and in contrasting practice areas.  

Where is your dream holiday destination?

Somewhere I’ve not yet visited that has a combination of delightful weather, stunning scenery, friendly locals, delicious food, excellent wine and a championship golf course.