Name: Victoria Sigeti
Firm: Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Trained at: Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Year qualified: 2003
What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?
I remember sitting in my first conference with counsel, which was held in person on the Freshfields’ client floor within a few weeks of me joining the firm. Will Lawes and two pre-eminent company law QCs of the time were there debating some incredibly complicated issues, with me trying desperately to take a note.
The memory of that conference makes me smile to this day, as I came away more convinced than ever that I had made the right choice in joining Freshfields. Not only had I been allowed to do a (much-edited!) draft of the instructions to counsel but, more importantly, I had been allowed to sit in on the conference in the first place, which was such a fantastic learning opportunity. Although there is a lot to be said for the efficiency of no longer having so many in-person meetings, I do think they are important and remain a fantastic training ground for young lawyers. I am very focused on making sure that I find ways to give the young lawyers I work with similar opportunities to see experienced practitioners interacting live.
What is the wisest thing anyone ever said to you (and who said it)?
“If you don’t try, you’ll never know.” Not sure who first said it to me but it is something that has always resonated with me, both in my career and life more generally.
Who (for better or worse) has been the most influential person in your career? Why?
There have been several people over the years who have influenced my career in lots of positive ways, including an outstanding group of contemporaries who I have always been proud to work alongside. If I have to narrow it down, I would say that two Freshfields partners have been particularly inspirational.
The first is Farah Ispahani who backed me from the start and to whom I credit my continued desire to be on top of all of the detail. The second is Jennifer Bethlehem who I admire for standing up for what she believes in.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?
Three things. First, find a place where you feel that you can be yourself, have a voice and have fun. You will spend a lot of time at work and with colleagues and you need people around you who have your back and make you smile.
Second, decide what you want to stand for, be true to those values and use them to guide you in everything you do and, in particular, how you treat people.
Third, find yourself a sponsor (or more than one). Having someone who invests time in you and your career development and can help you navigate your way through all of the challenges that inevitably crop up in the course of a career is invaluable. I have had a couple of fantastic sponsors over the course of my career and am convinced that I would not be in the role I am today without having had their support.
What’s your best friend from law school doing now?
She’s a lawyer too although in quite a different area of law to me.