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What went down at the Legal Cheek-ULaw Winter 2021 Virtual Vacation Scheme

Lawyers share insights into practice areas including ESG, finance, legal technology, gaming and media law

the legal cheek The Winter Virtual Vacation Scheme 2021 in partnership with the University of Law (ULaw) saw nearly 2,000 students participate in workshops hosted by major law firms and chambers, as well as a career fair and case studies developed by ULaw.

The project, which took place over one week this month, explored a range of practice areas, including finance, green energy, legal technology, litigation and media law. This is what happened.

day 1

Session 1: Commercial Awareness Overview: What’s on the Horizon for 2022? With Travers Smith and Blackstone Chambers

Speakers:

• Will Normand, Partner at Travers Smith
• Andrew Scott, attorney at Blackstone Chambers

What’s happened:

Will Normand, Partner at Travers Smith, and Andrew Scott, Solicitor at Blackstone Chambers, kicked off this year’s Virtual Winter Vacation Program with a discussion that explores key business trends that are set to shape the legal world in 2022.

Normand explained how ESG has emerged for his clients, while Scott explored the counter-cyclical relationship between litigation and the broader economy. Both speakers agreed that ESG litigation and human rights could be used to investigate age-old principles of law.

Their words of advice to students were to explore the nuances of the areas they are interested in and always be willing to consider arguments from different perspectives.

Session Two: Understanding the Corporate Legal Market – with Osborne Clarke and Ropes & Gray

Speakers:

• Jane Park Ware, Partner at Osborne Clarke
• Charlotte Brunsdon, Senior Coordinator, Ropes & Gray

What’s happened:

The overall objective of this second session was to provide an overview of the corporate legal market, to set context for the sessions later in the week.

Jane Park Ware of Osborne Clarke and Charlotte Brunsdon of Ropes & Gray have generally described their role as “risk managers” and said their job includes advising clients about the risks they take in a transaction or dispute.

Both attorneys stressed the importance of estimating who the legal work is being prepared for, which requires an understanding of the business focus of the client and commercial drivers. This understanding allows attorneys to coordinate well with their clients’ experienced attorneys to provide a clear answer.

the second day

Session 3: Fintech and the Law – with Brian Cave, Leighton Pisner

Speakers:

• Marcus Pearl, Partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

What’s happened:

Marcus Perle began the session by explaining how his non-legal degree in political science developed his skills in problem-solving and critical thinking, and smoothed his journey to become partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner and co-chair of the company’s technology practice.

Pearl spoke privately about fintech, and was involved in one of his “highlights”. This deal included advising a US fintech company, APTO, on its expansion into Europe with a debit card designed to pay for everyday transactions using cryptocurrency. Pearl used this example to illustrate how fintech lawyers need to anticipate upcoming challenges and opportunities to “prove their advice into the future,” and draw on their expertise while using an interdisciplinary approach to solving clients’ problems.

In this week’s first case study, ULaw asked students to put themselves in the shoes of general counsel at the FTSE 100 and identify four strategies for improving working with outside law firms and how these strategies would enhance efficiency.

Session 4: Video Games and Digital Media – With Wiggin

Speakers:

• Peter Lewin, Senior Associate, Wiggin
• Isabel Davies, Coordinator, Wiggin

What’s happened:

In this presentation, we learned that there is a lot more to being a game lawyer than just playing video games!

Speakers outline the life cycle of a company or game product, from its formation to launch. They went on to explain the broad scope of work involved in this process, including providing advice on data protection issues, copyright issues and marketing campaigns.

Lewin encouraged willing gaming attorneys to speak to as many industry experts as possible, on Twitter, for example, or by attending gaming events. “Show me you have an interest in this field, don’t just tell me,” he said.

day 3

Session 5: Law Firms Listed on the Stock Exchange – with Gateley and ULaw

Speakers:

• Rod Walde, CEO of Gateley
• Zum Muhammed, Senior Assistant at Gately
• Hannah Newhall, Trainee Attorney at Gateley
• Nick Rogers, teacher at ULaw

What’s happened:

At Wednesday’s listed law firm hearing, Gateley CEO Rod Waldie told the story of how his firm became the first UK legal practice to be brought to the public.

Taking advantage of the regulatory impact of the Legal Services Act of 2007, which removed the ban on non-lawyers owning law firms, Jatelli listed on the Alternative Investment Exchange (AIX) six years ago via a historic initial public offering (IPO).

Since then, the company’s stock price has risen 125% as the full-service group has grown and diversified through acquisitions of illegal businesses such as Vinden Partnership, a real estate advisory firm, and business psychologists Kiddy & Partners.

My father’s colleague, Zum Muhammad, a senior fellow at Gateway Company, and Hannah Newhall, an intern, provided insight into the company’s culture, in which both are contributors. They explained how this ownership stake has a positive impact on the company’s culture. “Instead of just opening up to a few equity partners, everyone is part of the success,” Newhall said.

Giving ULaw teacher and former BLM partner Nick Rogers the perspective of the traditional law firm model, balance it with the listed law firm model. He also took the students through one of the project’s case studies which prompted the students to think about the pros and cons of being a lawyer at a listed law firm.

Find out more about Study SQE at ULaw

Session 6: Career Fair

What’s happened:

The ULaw-run career fair provided students with insights on a range of topics including requesting an internship contract and interview tips, as well as social media skills.

Rebecca Schroed, Director of Student Recruitment at ULaw, provided an in-depth look at company research methods, emphasizing the need to consider a range of sources. It also provided practical advice on applications, and highlighted the importance of adapting applications for the company.

ULaw’s Careers Manager, Ailsa Costello, and careers consultant, Letícia Bittencourt, gave a workshop on preparing for interviews. Provide practical pointers including arriving at least 15 minutes before the interview, dressing appropriately, and stopping before answering questions.

To prepare students on LinkedIn, ULaw careers manager Clare Stapleton and career counselor John McKeown shared tips for connecting and searching for work using the online platform—never send a connection request without a message and be sure to set up job alerts, they said.

Meanwhile, Sarah Polley, Dean of the ULaw Guildford Campus, gave an overview of the transition from LPC to SQE, what to consider when deciding which path to follow such as schedules and cost, and how ULaw supports students through the process.

the fourth day

Session 7: Restructuring and Bankruptcy – with Weil Gotshal & Manges

Speakers:

• Neil Devani, Partner at Weil Gotshal & Manges
• Jonathan Woods, Associate at Weil Gotshal & Manges
• Asha Faki, trainee attorney at Weil Gotshal & Manges

What’s happened:

Neil Devani, Jonathan Woods and Asha Faki of Weil Gotshal & Manges gave a presentation on restructuring, focusing in particular on what restructuring means, the role of restructuring solicitors, the tools of English law restructuring, and the company’s position in the global restructuring market.

Devaney and Woods have provided students with insights into some of the recent deals Weil Gotshal & Manges have worked on, such as the 2008 Lehman Brothers restructuring that is still ongoing. We also heard from Phakey who explained the position of trainees in restructuring and the main attributes the company looks for in accommodating interns, such as organization and proactivity.

Session 8: From Fossil Fuels to Green: The Transforming Energy Sector – with Norton Rose Fulbright

Speakers:

• Charles Whitney, Partner at Norton Rose Fulbright

What’s happened:

Charles Whitney discussed the transition to green energy and how Norton Rose Fulbright’s business was deeply affected by the move. Whitney explained that many traditional oil and gas companies have seen a significant shift toward providing cleaner forms of energy.

Looking ahead, Whitney went on to explain how the transformation of the energy sector is just beginning. Hydrogen is expected to play a more dominant role in the sector, as well as the continued increase in battery production, as bans on gasoline and diesel cars approach.

day 5

Session 9: Life as a Dispute Resolution Lawyer – with Clyde & Co., Gatehouse Chambers, RPC and Womble Bond Dickinson

Speakers:

• Lisa Somerville, Senior Associate, Clyde & Co
• Jonathan Titmus, attorney at Gatehouse Chambers
• Daniel Hemming, Partner at RPC
• Christina Tolvas Vincent, Partner at Womble Bond Dickinson

What’s happened:

For the penultimate session of this year’s Winter Vacation Virtual Program, Lisa Somerville of Clyde & Associates, Jonathan Titmes of Jehos Chambers, RPC’s Daniel Hemming, and Christina Tolvas-Vincent of Wobbles Bond Dickinson gave us insight into their day-to-day work as litigants.

Somervail and Titmuss spoke about what they enjoy most about their roles, and said they liked using the law as a tool to solve clients’ problems, while Hemming described how he was drawn to conflict resolution because it was a “team game”.

Hemming and Tolvas-Vincent have talked about some of their most memorable business, about the very diverse cases they have been involved in, from suing Barclays for breach of customer trust and a settlement claiming a set of red roses, respectively.

Session 10: Understanding Legal Technology – with Dentons, Macfarlanes and ULaw

Speakers:

• Joe Cohen, Denton Innovation Leader
• Christopher Tartt Roberts, Head of Law Technology at MacFarlanes
• Patrick Grant, Legal Technology and Innovation Project Manager at ULaw

What’s happened:

In the last session, Joe Cohen of Dentons first broke down the ways technology is being used to provide legal services more efficiently. By using tools, such as artificial intelligence to review documents, lawyers can focus more on providing clients with high-value legal advice. Meanwhile, Christopher Tartt Roberts of MacFarlanes discussed how legal technology is made up of people from different professional backgrounds, making room for anyone interested in integrating legal and technology services.

ULaw’s Patrick Grant concluded the session by advising students interested in legal technology to first learn black lettering and soft skills, before considering understanding existing processes and seeking to improve them.

In this week’s latest case study, ULaw asked students to explain why the deployment of neural network-based tools is a cause for concern, particularly in the legal services industry.

Find out more about Study SQE at ULaw

About legal cheek functions.

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