Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP
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Year of qualification: 2016
Department: Corporate M&A
What attracted you to a career in law?
I enjoyed studying law as a degree subject, particularly combining the ever-evolving academic side of the law with practical problem solving. My university held weekly law careers nights with various City firms and the idea of applying the problem-solving skills I had learned during my degree to commercial transactions made pursuing a training contract an attractive next step for me.
Why solicitor not barrister?
While the Bar sounded fascinating, as a solicitor, I work as part of a team and am able to develop client relationships over the course of a matter. I can also be involved with a deal from start to finish, which is always satisfying.
How did you decide which firms to apply to?
I found it could sometimes be difficult as an applicant to tell firms apart simply by reading their promotional material, so attending careers events and taking the opportunity to meet representatives from firms was very useful in helping to decide which firms to apply to. I applied for vacation schemes at a range of City firms to get an idea of where I’d be best suited.
How much work experience did you do? Why is it so important?
I did two vacation schemes in the summer of my penultimate year at UCL, one at a magic circle firm and the other at Skadden.
Vacation schemes give you a great opportunity to really get a feel for the culture of a firm and the sort of work you can expect to be doing as a trainee. I think it’s important to see work experience as a two way process and an opportunity to decide whether a firm is right for you.
What do you think made your application successful?
I was keen to put across in my application my hobbies and interests outside of the law. I was surprised how often I found myself being asked at interviews about musical theatre society or volunteering. Given that many applicants have a strong academic background, it’s always helpful to show your personality.
Which departments did you train in?
I did seats in banking, litigation/arbitration, corporate M&A and the investment management group.
Please discuss a specific deal/case that you were involved with, outlining your role in the matter.
I assisted on numerous private and public M&A matters during my corporate seat. On a particular corporate reorganisation, I was tasked with updating the proposed steps plan, liaising with attorneys from other offices and producing first drafts and updates of the transaction documents.
Given the size of the London office, even as a trainee I was encouraged to take on work which I had previously expected would be reserved for associates, always in the knowledge that I had the support of my supervisor and the wider team.
How does the qualification process work at the firm?
From our first seat we had regular meetings with the training partner where we would discuss how we were finding our seat and our future seat preferences. Midway through our final seat we were asked to set out where we hoped to qualify. The process is quite informal and we were encouraged to discuss our preference with the partners in our preferred qualification department.
What do you wish you’d known about being a trainee before you started that you now do?
There’s no magic to being a good trainee. Staying organised and up to date with the progress of the case or transaction you’re working on and ensuring that any work you produce makes the life of the person you’re working for easier go a long way in securing your reputation as a safe pair of hands.
Please outline your area of expertise. What might you do in a typical day?
As a M&A NQ, no two days are the same. Our team undertakes a mixture of public and private work. My tasks on a deal can vary from drafting and reviewing documents to general transaction management, such as communicating with local counsel, liaising between parties and keeping track of the status of documents and deliverables.
Please discuss a current/recent specific deal/case, outlining your role in the matter.
I recently assisted on an investment into an LSE-listed company. I drafted a suite of transaction documents, attended calls and meetings with the parties to the transaction and their lawyers, and monitored the status of the transaction to ensure we were on schedule for our proposed signing and completion.
I learned how important it is to stay aware of developments throughout the lifespan of a deal. As an associate, people expect you to be across the detail of a matter, so making time to keep up to date with the correspondence you’re copied into, and the status of documents and work streams, is very important.
What do you most/least enjoy about your career and why?
I love the variation of the deals I’m involved in and clients I work with, and the opportunity to constantly learn.
The unpredictable hours can sometimes make it tricky to make plans, but you learn to become adaptable.
How involved are you with business development and promoting the firm?
I have assisted partners with preparation for pitches, performing research and putting together slides. The many graduate recruitment and vacation scheme events scheduled throughout the year also provide great opportunities to promote the firm.
What makes your firm stand out from the rest?
Skadden has an excellent reputation and, from my first seat, I have been involved in challenging and high-profile work.
There is also a great collegiate atmosphere in the office, from the support you will get on a deal or case to the many scheduled and impromptu gatherings. I’ve felt like part of the team from my first day.
What advice do you have for budding solicitors who are contemplating a career in law?
Look around, attend events, meet people and don’t be afraid to be yourself. Make sure a firm feels like the right fit for you - you spend too much time there for it not to be.
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