Name: Tara Waters
Role: Partner and co-CEO of Ashurst Digital Ventures
Trained at: Allen & Overy
Year qualified: 2009
What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?
I did not do a training contract as I am US-qualified. However, one of the first memories as a lawyer is from my first day of training when we were advised that one of the best traits for a young lawyer was to be unflappable. It was something that always stuck with me and I have always aspired to be the calm in the storm.
More recently, however, and in light of the increased focus on mental health, I have wondered whether this stands as good advice for young lawyers today. Showing vulnerability and emotion shouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.
What is the wisest thing anyone ever said to you (and who said it)?
I have had a few people give me the same advice along the lines of “Back yourself”. Most recently this has come from my sponsor and practice head, Karen Davies. She has always backed me and continues to do so, and having that support gives me the self-confidence to follow my ambition and to strive to achieve my goals.
Who (for better or worse) has been the most influential person in your career? Why?
That would have to be an old friend in NYC, I won’t name him, who was the person who convinced me to go to law school when I was working in technology in the early 2000s. It was never something on my radar and wouldn’t have been something I’d have done my own volition. But he convinced me there was opportunity for a female technophile in the law and although I didn’t start my legal career in that specific space, I managed to get there over time. That story and experience has really defined me as a lawyer, partner and innovator.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?
My path has taken an incredible amount of dedication, hard work and luck. There was no gilded path, but a series of twists, turns and forks that I was lucky enough to navigate my way through. Through those trials I tried to maintain a sense of self and purpose, and always remained steadfast in who I was as a person and as a professional.
In the end, however, it has also been about building relationships and belonging to a community—without the people around me pushing me to succeed, challenging me to be better and helping me to spot and take advantage of opportunities, I would not be where I am today.
What’s your best friend from law school doing now?
I honestly don’t have a single “best friend” from law school. My law school friends are scattered across the US doing everything from human rights to congressional support to plain old corporate law.