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Meet the lawyer

Ugo Ebhogiaye

Ugo Ebhogiaye

University: University of Bristol
Degree: Law
Year of qualification: 2022
Position: Associate
Department: Investment and development team – real estate

How did you decide which firms to apply to?

When it came to researching firms, I was determined to find somewhere that had good real estate practices. By the time I began applying for training contracts, I was already a paralegal in a real estate team. Having not particularly enjoyed land law at university (who does?), I realised as a paralegal that I really enjoyed property law. So, I let this newfound love guide my search.

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

Before beginning my training contract, the work I did as a paralegal was invaluable because the skills I picked up have remained applicable throughout my legal career. I’ve consistently drawn on my paralegal experiences as an associate. Aside from providing me with key legal skills and knowledge, my time as a paralegal afforded me the more general experience of working within a law firm setting. This familiarity has afforded me a comfortability during my training that I may not have otherwise had.

What do you think made your application successful?

Undoubtedly, it was the different types of work experience I had that made my application successful. I don’t just mean my legal work experience but my life experience – for instance, the skills I developed having worked in a shop or through the volunteering work I did. Being able to demonstrate your life skills and transferable skills in your application is a great way to show that you’re suited to the role of a solicitor and capable of doing the job the firm requires. I found that when you start working in a law firm, one of the most important attributes you can have is the ability to apply common sense. Drawing on your various experiences will help to highlight that you’re a well-rounded candidate. 

Which departments did you train in?

I did two real estate seats; the first had more of a commercial focus which incorporated office and retail work, and the second was residential development focused. I also trained in property litigation – this was interesting and afforded me the opportunity to undertake some contentious work, which was completely new to me. I also spent a seat working with our Oman office. Unfortunately, the seat took place during the pandemic which meant I had to complete it remotely but, despite this set back, it was still incredibly interesting.

Please discuss a specific deal/case that you were involved with, outlining your role in the matter.

During my second seat with the Oman office, I worked on several intriguing projects. One deal that particularly springs to mind involved working with one of the largest investment banks in Oman. The matter was a sukuk issuance, which is similar to a bond issuance – this was the first ever Islamic finance project that I’d worked on, making the matter even more intriguing to me. My main duties as a trainee in the matter involved:

  • regular liaisons with the client to work out any necessary amendments as the deal moved forward;
  • developing a strategy with the partner on the case; and
  • organising trackers for both internal and external use.

I also played a role in drafting transaction documents, which I found particularly interesting because of all the different terms used due to the fact it was an Islamic finance issue. Getting to grips with the difference in terminology was tricky at first but I learnt so much.

What do you wish you’d known about being a trainee before you started that you now do?

In your role as a trainee, you could be asked to take on a whole range of different tasks in one day and knowing how to balance this workload will be your greatest asset. Juggling priorities is a core part of being a lawyer so, being prepared for whatever the day might bring, no matter what it throws at you, will stand you in good stead.

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

My work as a private residential development lawyer involves large scale regeneration schemes; that is, typically working on joint venture projects between public authorities and private developers and housebuilders. I also undertake student accommodation and build-to-rent projects and most recently I’ve been working on retirement village schemes, which is new and interesting.

My day to day, as I’m sure is the case with most lawyers, consists of starting with a quick review of my calendar to check the meetings I have scheduled and going through my emails to see whether any urgent matters have come in. I’d then usually begin drafting documents for whatever my latest project is and likely have client meetings to attend. My evenings might involve a business development event or conference. While my work is steady, the day to day is very dependent on what’s in the calendar at the time.

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

What’s great about Trowers, is that juniors are encouraged to get involved with the firm’s business development. I’m personally very involved with this side of the business. We’re frequently encouraged to meet up with clients and go for coffees but also to attend conferences to help us develop.

What makes your firm stand out from the rest?       

I think what makes Trowers stand out for me is its culture. Trowers is an open and inclusive place to work, everyone’s friendly and willing to teach you so there are countless opportunities to learn. You gain great exposure on projects and to clients. Plus, the partners offer you as much responsibility as you’re willing to take on. At every opportunity there’s space for you to grow and develop as much as you want and that’s something that’s encouraged at every level.

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

The best advice I can give is that perseverance is key. I know that the application process to become a lawyer can be difficult and it’s something that you really have to push through. There’ll undoubtedly be rejections, which, although tough at the time, will ultimately build your resilience and make you a better lawyer. If you get rejected or don’t get invited for an interview it’s important to persevere and keep trying – something usually comes through when you’re least expecting it to.

What’s the work/life balance like at your firm? How often do you have late nights/work at weekends?

There’s a pretty good work/life balance at the firm, it’s one of the things Trowers prides itself on. The partners recognise the importance of this, and actively encourage us to value our free time and put our mental health first.

What diversity and inclusion initiatives does the firm have in place?

Trowers places a real focus on diversity and inclusion (D&I) and in making sure that all initiatives are genuine, add real value and are true to what we’re actually doing on the ground. We have a D&I committee, which I sit on, and a range of various networks that cover a number of protected characteristics and groups.

I chair the firm’s Race Ethnicity and Heritage Network, which I’ve been doing for two years now. In this role I head up meetings and spearhead the initiatives we roll out throughout the year. Within the network our initiatives range from holding cultural lunches to looking at how we can collaborate with other networks because intersectionality is a core focus of ours.

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

My department is usually supported by other departments as we run such large-scale projects. This collaboration affords a great opportunity to build on your internal network within the firm and the projects can often involve cross collaboration with our other offices, which is great and typical of my area of work.

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

As a trainee I had frequent communication with clients and I think that’s something great about, and unique to, Trowers. There’s a great deal of opportunity for trainees to interact with clients and this is something that’s greatly encouraged if trainees feel confident in doing so.

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

For me, this has undoubtedly been the opportunity to chair the Race Ethnicity and Heritage Network. The position has given me the chance to meet people across the firm but has also helped me to step into a leadership role that I wouldn’t have generally had this early in my career. The role has enabled me to have a voice in this area, and I really value being part of an organisation where people’s opinions and perspectives, at various levels of their career, are listened to and respected.

Where is your dream holiday destination?

Top of my list is Japan – it’s so diverse and there’s so much to do there, from the cities like Tokyo to the less known amazing beaches. Japan is definitely my number one at the moment.