Name: Emma Lynam
Degree Subject: Business & Law (Bachelor’s degree), International Financial Law (LL.M.)
University: University College Dublin; King’s College London
Hobbies: Travelling, skiing, reading (especially Nordic noir), and going to the gym.
Current Department: Asset Finance
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
I’ve always known that I wanted to pursue a career in law so studying it at university was a natural progression for me. While I enjoyed the academic aspects of studying law, it was when I did some work experience that I knew I had made the right choice. A great part of being a solicitor is that you never stop learning. For me, doing a Masters opened up a whole new world of possibilities. I left Dublin and was exposed to an entirely new area of the law (banking and finance) which added a new dimension to my thinking and developed my interest in this area greatly.
Why did you choose your firm?
My choice was informed by a combination of reasons. In terms of asset finance and, more specifically shipping finance, WFW’s reputation speaks for itself. This was an important factor in my choice of firm as I have a keen interest in this area. I learn from incredibly talented colleagues on a daily basis. Coupled with this, the guaranteed international secondment is a fantastic opportunity. I’m very much looking forward to travelling to Singapore to work with the asset finance team this September. Additionally the 6-seat rotation structure is another positive feature. Trainees gain exposure to more areas of practice as a result and, contrary to what some might think, you settle into a new seat very quickly and develop a breadth of experience in the 4 month timeframe.
What has been the most exciting piece of work you have done, and why?
We recently acted on behalf of a bank on a large ship finance deal. This was particularly exciting because I was given a huge amount of responsibility. The cross-border aspect meant that I was co-ordinating teams across different jurisdictions with different time zones. I was involved in drafting various finance documents, monitoring the progress of the many moving parts and liaising directly with our client and the borrower. Another positive element of this deal and many others at WFW, is the international aspect to the firm’s work and the opportunity to meet colleagues from the overseas offices. We worked closely with colleagues in New York and Hamburg on this occasion.
What does your typical day involve?
I tend to head to the gym before work. As the days can be long and unpredictable it’s nice to have some time to yourself at the start of the day. On my way into work I will have a quick look through my emails. That way I can ensure there are no surprises when I get to my desk.
I typically arrive at the office around 9.15 am, look over the to-do list I made the previous day and press on with any urgent or time critical matters I’m working on. The most exciting part of the job is the fact that no two days are the same. I am currently sitting in the Asset Finance team which is split between shipping and aviation. Due to the team’s flexibility I have been able to gain experience in both sectors and I split my time between the two. This has been really rewarding from a learning perspective.
A typical day for me might involve: drafting transaction or ancillary documents; sitting in on a conference call with a client or other advisors; liaising directly with a client for the signing of documents; project managing certain aspects of a deal such as CPs or attending one of the ship registries for a closing.
During my previous seat in the employment team I met regularly with clients face-to-face and was involved in providing advice in relation to settlement agreements and grievances. The work was both contentious and non-contentious. A great part of being a trainee is that your work in each department presents a range of new tasks and opportunities to develop a diverse set of skills.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
For me, seeing how interconnected the law is with the global economy and political landscape has been particularly interesting. Observing in practice the way in which the law impacts commercial decision-making and ultimately the work we do as lawyers has been fascinating. Take for example the recent trend towards drafting Brexit clauses into contracts, or the tightening of regulation following the financial crisis. Similarly, the recent grounding of all Boeing 737 Max aircraft might see an increase in airlines assessing the potential to renege on order commitments and seek damages for lost revenue. The law is always changing and this presents a daily challenge, but it’s a challenge I look forward to.
From a transactional perspective, nothing quite compares to the adrenaline rush a few days before completion. The period leading up to completion can be stressful but ultimately the feeling of achievement is very rewarding.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
In no particular order:
- Be persistent (and resilient). There will be occasions of criticism and rejection but it is impossible to appreciate winning unless you’ve also been through the experience of losing.
- Mistakes. Everybody makes them, just don’t make the same one twice, and learn from each of them.
- Be open-minded and don’t settle for the status quo, you never know what opportunities might come your way.
- Lastly, experience. Actively seek out opportunities to gain as much experience as is possible.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
Coming from Dublin I initially had a limited knowledge of the City and legal market generally in London. This required me to do a lot of research. Meeting law firms at career fairs led me to my first paralegal role which subsequently had a big impact on my career. For me, gaining experience as a paralegal gave me a lot to talk about in interviews and application forms. It also gave me an invaluable insight into different law firms, practice areas and cultures. I spent time in a UK and US firm and can attest that it is certainly true that no two firms are the same.
How is law in practice different from studying law?
Something they don’t teach you in law school is how to solve real life problems. The practical application of the law is the biggest difference but also the most rewarding. Being the trusted advisor to any individual or board of directors is a privileged position which brings with it important responsibilities, plenty of opportunity and exciting challenges. For me, a great way to bridge the gap between university and working life was through regular volunteering with the Student Legal Service at university.
Firm address: 15 Appold Street, London EC2A 2HB
Telephone number: 020 7814 8000
Email address for graduate recruitment: email@example.com
Number of offices: 14
Training contract application deadline: 15 July 2019
Vacation scheme application deadline: 13 January 2020