Kalpesh Tanna, Osborne Clarke
6 April 2011
I’m a deal junkie so I really enjoy negotiating and closing deals
Firm: Osborne Clarke
University: University College, London
Degree Subject: Laws
Hobbies: Following Liverpool F.C. home and away. It’s a religion more than a hobby.
How long have you been a partner: It’s my fifth year
Who/what inspired you to be a lawyer? I always wanted to be a lawyer. And even though I have done other things since qualifying, like taking a career break to study for an MBA, legal practice has always felt like the best way for me to combine my skills. It would make a terrible interview answer, I know.
What things did you wish you knew before embarking on a legal career? Latin
What does your typical day involve? It really depends on the deals I’m working on and how close they are to signing. But usually it will be a mix of internal and external meetings, drafting and negotiating agreements and deals, supervising and mentoring trainees and associates, speaking with clients, dealing with business planning and management issues I’m involved with, as well as trainee and fee-earner recruitment. I’ve recently been given responsibility for all trainees in our London office, so going forward this will become a larger focus of my role.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job? Clients can, at times, be very demanding and so managing expectations can be a challenge. Sometimes it can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Keeping your sense of humour is important at times like that.
What has been the highlight of your legal career so far? We work in an open plan environment. Recently, I overheard a second year associate with whom I work, negotiating a tricky agreement on a long conference call with a far more senior lawyer on the opposite side. Let’s just say that he more than held his own throughout the conversation, which gave me a real kick as it was a great validation of the training we give our people.
What are the best aspects of your job? I’m a deal junkie, so I’d have to say negotiating and closing deals. It’s also pretty cool making training contract and newly qualified (NQ) offers and seeing the delight (and relief!) that brings. Last year, we retained 95 per cent of our NQs, which we’re very proud of.
What are the worst aspects of our job? Sometimes the administrivia can be a chore.
What tips would you give to students who want to break into the legal profession? Study something at university that you are passionate about. Then excel at it. The rest will usually take care of itself.
What are the most common mistakes you’ve seen candidates making? Nerves sometimes get the better of candidates, who then fail to perform at their best. We do appreciate that it’s a daunting process but I really would advise candidates to relax and be themselves. Interviews are there to give both parties an opportunity to get to know each other better and work out if there’s a fit. The better candidates appreciate this and treat the interview as a two way process - in some ways, they are interviewing us just as much as we are interviewing them.
How has the legal market changed since the days you were a trainee?I was a trainee in the mid-90s. Although that was only 15 or so years ago, back then not everyone had a mobile ’phone let alone an email address! Legal practice has changed massively as technology has developed to evolve working practices.
What impact has the recession had on your firm? The recession has been tough on law firms but because we’re a full service firm we found that increased activity in some departments balanced out lulls in others. We also found creative ways to keep hold of our people, such as sabbaticals and job sharing arrangements.
What three words best describe your firm? Collegiate, entrepreneurial and fun
Where did you go for your last holiday? Dubai
What gadget/gizmo would you be lost without? My Crackberry