After completing my A-levels in Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology I pursued my undergraduate studies in Biochemistry and Biotechnology at Imperial College London. Despite this, I could always see myself working in the City and pursuing a career in the sciences was never on the cards. I was heavily involved in the Finance Society at Imperial (eventually going on to lead the committee as President) and having completed a number of internships in the Investment Banking space I had no doubt that this was what I enjoyed and was where I would end up. However, during my second year I attended a campus event by the then legacy Herbert Smith and was extremely impressed - not only by the opportunities that were offered by the firm but also by the calibre of people I met and the encouragement I received. I was offered a summer vacation scheme with the firm followed by the opportunity to spend two weeks in the firm's Singapore offices! For me, the quality of work, the people & firm culture and the long-term scope provided by a career as a solicitor at HSF outweighed any banking roles I had considered and I was quick to accept a training contract offer with the firm.
Despite this, I wanted to further my technical understanding of finance and so I decided to pursue a Masters in Finance at the London School of Economics. I then converted to law by studying the one-year GDL and then completed my LPC before joining HSF as a trainee in 2015.
As a trainee, I have sat with the Intellectual Property team, the Banking and Acquisition Finance team, the Corporate/Private Equity team and I am currently on a client secondment at UBS, a Swiss global financial services company.
Now, hoping to qualify as an Associate within the firm's Energy, Infrastructure and Project Finance team, I have never been more excited by the work that I will be doing and the opportunities that lie ahead. Having considered so many different career paths when I was a student, I can definitively say that I made the correct choice! There are very few jobs that are as intellectually stimulating - I genuinely do feel like I'm learning something new every day.
I work within the group General Counsel team, with a specific focus on commercial contracting, outsourcing, IT/technology and FinTech. One of the unique aspects of working in-house is that, given the relatively small team size, you are often tasked with running (sometimes huge) deals by yourself. Coming to the end of my time here I can honestly say that no two days have been the same; I have worked on everything from drafting simple contract termination letters for low-value contacts all the way up to working on the legal aspects involved in two large global bank FinTech consortiums seeking to invest millions of pounds on developing new technology; I have worked on providing general commercial legal advice to in-house teams while also negotiating contractual terms with external legal teams.
On a day-to-day basis I am trusted as an HSF-trained lawyer; everything I do reflects back on the firm. While this sounds daunting, you really do begin to appreciate just how well you are trained at HSF and how the experience you get as a trainee, nearly always working with a larger team of Partners and Associate(s), really does help you when you are left alone in the deep-end!
Whatever career one may be in, having great work is just half of it. If this is coupled with great people - that is, great colleagues, a great support team and great mentors - then such an environment is conducive to optimum self-growth. This is exactly what I have found at HSF: not only is the work exceptional, but so too are the people. This factor is another big motivator for me; knowing that you are working with some of the best lawyers in their field and learning directly from them is really an incredible opportunity.
The same principle applies even if you know that law is the line for you: do your research and find the firm that you believe will help advance your ambitions and a place that is conducive to your own personal skill-set. While all firms do look for similar candidates, there are key distinguishing traits that particular firms may want in greater proportion. For example, if you really have no interest in Finance (and aren't willing to give it a try) then don't apply to a Finance-heavy firm. Getting in is just part one, actually developing into an excellent lawyer comes next and that can only happen if you really enjoy what you do.
Given the sheer volume of agreements in play and the large variation in content, I used a mix of statistical and mathematical techniques (which I learnt as a scientist during my undergraduate years!) to develop a simple and visually-clear method to review and present my findings. The approach was commended by the global legal lead and all other regions (EMEA, APAC, the US and Switzerland) were asked to adopt the same technique. This was a huge honour and goes to show that it doesn't matter whether you're a trainee or a partner - it's important to speak up and provide input where you think you can, you never know it may end up shaping the entire approach taken by the team and may make everyone's life a tad easier!
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