Being a trainee at a successful City law firm is tough; it’s two years where the only constant is change. You are always moving around, trying to prove yourself, trying to improve yourself and after two years of blood, sweat and (in some cases) tears, you qualify and get some of the stability you crave. So to qualify into a team you have never worked with, who don’t know what you are capable of is a brave (some might say, crazy,) move, for the team as well as you.
Why do it? Because the prospect was (and still is) really exciting; the opportunity to learn new things, to do work I have never done before, to challenge myself, was one I couldn’t pass up. And almost a year on, I am incredibly glad I didn’t. Since I have joined the team the range of deals I have worked on has been astounding. I have worked on a variety of high yield bond transactions (each with its own set of quirks), the acquisition of a non performing loan portfolio, the establishment of a new exchange traded product platform, advised clients on escrow arrangements, verification agency roles, cash collateral bank roles and acted for issuers on the ongoing matters that come up on securitisations. On every single matter I have worked on, I have learnt something, I have been challenged and strived to meet each challenge as it comes.
As an example of how much you can learn on just one deal, we acted for the security agent on a recent high yield bond issuance where security was being taken in nine jurisdictions. Quite aside from the general skills you gain and hone from working on these types of transactions such as prioritising and communication, the practical knowledge you acquire is remarkable. For example, how documents in each of those jurisdictions need to be executed; whether powers of attorney are required and how they need to be legalised; whether the original documents are needed for completion; and in which jurisdictions does the security agent need to take possession of documents evidencing the security. As a junior, you tend to feel like you don’t have any real knowledge or experience and that you don’t really bring anything to the table except for the pre-requisites of enthusiasm and a want to learn. It’s not until you sit down and think about what you have learnt from the last deal or matter you worked on, when you realise just how much you are learning without even realising it.
People sometimes assume that once you have done one deal every other deal like it will be easy. The problem here is the assumption that there will ever be another deal like one you have worked on. No two deals are the same; the commercial terms are different, the clients are different, the jurisdictions are different, the products are different. The list of variables is almost endless. In practice, this means that no two days are ever the same. There will not be a day (for a very long time to come) where I will not be learning, challenging myself, where I will not be changing. I yearned for stability when I was a trainee, for the time when I knew exactly what I was doing because I had done it before. There is something to be said for that, but from my short time with this team, I have learnt that stability can be totally overrated.