Banking and Finance is a great area of law, (and no, you don’t need to have studied finance at university to do it well.) A highlight for me is the commercial approach clients expect us to have. Our clients want to know how the law interacts with their business and what their next step should be. This requires us, as lawyers, to take the time to really understand the client’s business, their history, and what they value before giving advice. Effectively, we digest the law so that they can make the best decision for their business.
The College of Law’s Profs Programme has provided me with a great overview of different areas of law. Often lawyers aim to become a specialist in a particular field of law and to do this well, the legal and practical aspects of other areas of law, and how they interplay with a chosen specialisation, need to be understood.
I enjoyed the ‘off-site’ component—you have independence to get through the material but can contact the lecturers when needed. For online assessments, the lecturers are very involved and give lots of feedback on practice assessments before the final assessment takes place. Our on-site lecturers were often practising lawyers, which gave good insight into ‘the life of a practicing lawyer’. On-site assessments took me through the practical motions of, for example, client interviewing. Initially this seemed like a natural and relatively easy task but actually sitting down with a client in a real-life setting, under pressure, makes you understand just how prepared you need to be.
My firm has a rotation program for graduates, so I experienced three different legal teams before I settled into Banking and Finance. Profs gave me a base knowledge that assisted me in phasing into those teams (rather than starting completely from scratch).
For new lawyers, my advice would be this: don’t stress about getting on the ‘right career path’ or finding your niche. Remember that every job, team, and boss will teach you new skills that will build you as a lawyer. As your skills grow, the opportunities will as well.