University: University of Oxford
Year of qualification: 2018
Departments: Investment management; financial institutions regulation and enforcement; government enforcement and white collar crime
How did you decide that Skadden was the right firm for you?
I first encountered Skadden at university where I met representatives and lawyers from the firm at the Oxford Law Fair. Essentially, I gelled with the people I met and was interested in learning more about the firm, which led me to apply for the vacation scheme. The firm piqued my interest because I knew that I wanted to train among a small group while experiencing a wide range of practice areas. The breadth and quality of training offered by Skadden matched what I was looking for, both in terms of legal interest and culture.
Which departments did you train in?
My first three seats were in litigation and international arbitration, insurance and investment management, the latter of which involved a good proportion of financial institutions regulatory work, due to the practices’ close alignment. My next seats were in financial institutions regulation and enforcement and government enforcement and white collar crime.
What level of responsibility did you experience at trainee level?
The most rewarding aspect of training at Skadden is that you are given a significant amount of responsibility from the very start, while being supported and supervised by senior colleagues. That experience is invaluable to have as a trainee, while also serving as an opportunity that makes the qualification hurdle less daunting.
How does the qualification process work at the firm?
During their final seat, trainees are invited to submit a short, written application to the department into which they hope to qualify. Trainees can apply to more than one department, but are requested to rank their choices in order of preference. Trainees often have a good idea about where they will be offered an associate position by that stage of the training, which is helped by the small cohort size of only nine to 11 trainees.
In some cases, it is also possible for an associate to work across more than one department.
Please outline your area of expertise.
My role is split among investment management (funds), financial institutions regulation and enforcement, and government enforcement and white collar crime, which allows me to gain a broad range of experience across a range of regulatory advisory work, while providing more cohesive service to our clients. For example, the vast majority of the clients I work with are regulated financial institutions, so it’s beneficial to have an understanding of the client’s business model in addition to its regulatory and compliance obligations. These types of cross-departmental needs are a frequent theme of the matters we handle, so a diverse background of experience is quite useful.
How is your time divided between departments? What might you do in a typical day?
The division of time is fairly flexible and dependent on the urgency of each matter, with upcoming projects clearly communicated across practices. Broadly, I spend around 25% of my time on white collar crime work, with the remainder divided evenly between investment management and financial institutions regulation.
I enjoy the variety in my practice: one day I could be drafting a limited partnership agreement or negotiating with a fund sponsor, whereas on another day I may be advising a client on regulatory perimeter or enforcement issues, so I’m able to delve into a range of work and sectors nearly every day.
Has coronavirus impacted your work? What support is the firm providing?
The transition to working virtually has been almost seamless. Communication across the offices and practice groups has been really strong, so there isn't a sense that you are remote or disconnected. Tech support has provided a strong platform for us to work remotely without any interruptions to our workflow.
How is your work/life balance?
The hours can be unpredictable. However, you are generally free to manage your own schedule and have a good balance depending on your workload.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I have greatly appreciated and enjoyed working with partners who are leaders in their field, while also learning from the large amount of client exposure that I have gained. The knowledge I’ve learned from these and other experiences has been invaluable in my growth as an attorney and can only be beneficial going forward in my career.
What’re you reading at the moment?
I recently finished East West Street by Philippe Sands QC, a book exploring the origins of crimes against humanity and genocide as legal concepts through personal histories. I would definitely recommend it, as Mr Sands is a brilliant writer who conveys thoughts in a way that is both compassionate and informative.