I applied to Taylor Wessing because it breaks the mould – whilst being an internationally acclaimed commercial law firm, it’s unlike many other firms in the City. Taylor Wessing is in many respects cutting-edge, innovative and plays to its strengths in focusing on technology and harnessing the use of tech across the firm and in the way we deliver advice to clients, creating stronger efficiencies in doing so. It’s also a firm that focuses on the industries of tomorrow, such as life sciences, technology, media and communications, among others, with a sector-specific approach. This allows for collaborative working across many different practice areas, which builds a very inclusive and team-led approach. Taylor Wessing is also unlike the rest in that it is, in my view, a particularly liberal and diverse firm, and a firm that sees its role as more than just the law, by building a name for itself in the creative arts, for example, including our long standing relationship with the National Portrait Gallery (and the art for this year’s entrants is spread all across our walls).
Focus on Banking and Finance
I’m currently completing my fourth seat in banking and finance. The banking and finance group is a single 'generalist' team. Fee earners are multi-specialist and cover a broad range of loan finance transactions. In addition to working on real estate finance transactions, the team work on other areas of practice, including leveraged/acquisition finance, trade/receivable finance and general corporate lending. During my seat I have worked on mainly real estate finance and acquisition finance. The stakes are high and the clients are big names – often financing is in the tens of millions, if not billions, so you certainly feel like part of something big and significant. One of my first deals in the seat was a flagship acquisition finance transaction for roughly 7 billion pounds, to finance the acquisition of a chain of hotels. This involved input from many areas of Taylor Wessing, specifically our corporate finance team to assist on the equity finance element, our hotels group to manage to hotel specific agreements and negotiations, and the construction, real estate and tax teams for their key input and expertise needed to pull off the deal.
As a trainee in the banking and finance team you play an integral role in “project management” – you are responsible for keeping track of the documents at play, and monitoring the conditions precedent list (“CPs”) which are a list of crucial pre-requisites to the financing. The trainee is given a great deal of autonomy to run the CP list, and liaise with the clients and other law firms in relation to this. Come signing and completion the trainee’s role is very important in organising the documents and ensuring all the papers are in order. It’s often time pressured and suits those who enjoy working on the fast-paced side of commercial and transactional legal practice! In addition, trainees get involved in drafting loan documents, such as security agreements and legal opinions (under supervision) as well as the necessary corporate authorities such as board minutes and shareholder resolutions. This is a good seat to learn some solid trainee skills, specifically organisation, and time management, and a sound way to develop company law knowledge and expertise, applicable to many other transactional or corporate seats.
I joined Taylor Wessing following a summer vacation scheme. I’ve really enjoyed my seats, which have been: patents, real estate planning and environment, IP and Media (including a secondment to a key client) and banking and finance. Each has taught me different skills, and exposed me to a diverse range of areas of law, and different industry areas, as well as different types of clients. On top of learning within the seat, through matters carried out with your supervisor / other fee earners, we’ve had in-depth training for each seat, completed the PSC courses, and also had the opportunity for any other training we would like from Talent and also through Taylor Wessing’s widespread know-how seminars and lectures.
I enjoy the problem solving and challenge that everyday brings – the work itself requires a certain level of academic rigour, such as researching a new legal area at short notice to answer a research question, applying it to the client’s situation at hand. I also enjoy the high level of client contact that I’ve been able to receive – I was lucky enough to do a six month secondment during my training contract to a major client, and have since maintained strong ties to the client team I worked with, having left that seat. Also, I enjoy spending time with the people I work with – my colleagues and fellow trainees are a great group of people.
Like any job in a competitive and demanding environment, there have been some challenges and ups and downs! For me, one challenge was dealing with an unfamiliar subject matter whilst in the patent litigation team, which involved some technical understanding. The team were very supportive as was Talent. Other challenges were the constant re-learning exercise that takes place every time seat-change comes round – it’s often difficult leaving a seat after six months when you finally feel like you a comfortable and performing well, only to start from square one in an unfamiliar team and practice area. Of course, this is inevitable and the key is to be enthusiastic and willing to learn new things and pick up the skills you need as you go along. It also helps that the teams are supportive and friendly, and each practice area has bespoke trainee training and resources to assist new entrants get up to speed.