Name: Caroline Kenny
Trained at: Hammonds
Position: Associate General Counsel, Marketing and Advertising
In Hot 100 for: Managing Facebook’s growing workload. Read her full Hot 100 entry.
What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?
Sitting upright in a chair with my head propped up in the corner of an opaque glass office desperately trying to get some sleep on an overnight deal. My colleague later said he’d walked past and had wondered why there was a rolled-up carpet in the corner of an office!
We celebrated the deal a few weeks later with champagne at the top of Tower 42 – I’d never seen the London sky-view before then and was absolutely amazed (you can take the girl out of the North..)
Who has been the most influential person in your career? Why, and how have they helped you?
There are a few people in the profession who inspire me constantly. Without naming names, they are people who want to bring innovation to the profession, who spot really neat ways of doing things differently, add extra value to the work they do and most importantly who clearly say what they mean.
What was the best career decision you ever made, and why?
To go in-house early on (at two years PQE). Although it was an excruciatingly hard decision at the time, I learned more in-house over those next four years than I think I would have in practice – mainly because I had to handle so much more contract negotiation than law firm juniors are typically exposed to. I went back to private practice in my next job and found that my industry knowledge was really valued there. Before making the move, a recruiter had told me that in-house roles look for solid previous in-house experience and he was right as it did turn out to open a lot of doors for me.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job that you do?
I’ve always done what I’ve enjoyed doing and I think if you do that and are not in a rush to move, it’s not a chore to wait for the right next opportunity to crop up. In my current job, it’s essential to move fast and be bold (both FB company mantras) and also to be ultra-flexible – technology has meant that we all have to be flexible in all jobs these days but personally, I think it’s all about creating a work-life blend rather than balance, especially when you have a family.
Working for an American company, I have to be able to integrate my work life and my home life in order to be able to reach across projects and time zones (while still making sure everyone’s homework gets done).
What work or career-related project or activity would you really like to do, but don’t have time for?
During my conversion year at the College of Law, I won a prize to go to South Africa to do pro-bono work in the townships which was one of the most rewarding experiences I‘ve ever had. I promised the prize donor that I would pay the gesture forward one day and I haven’t forgotten, I need to find the right opportunity for that.
I would like to get involved in making commercial law more accessible, both for students who are not lucky enough to have come from the background that most City lawyers have but also to make the law more accessible to the general public at large – I’m always amazed at how limited people’s awareness is of their rights and how the legal system works.