As the first person in my family to attend university, moving to Durham in 2013 to start my law degree was always going to be a relatively big challenge. Prior to starting my course, I always intended to become a criminal barrister, but I quickly found that life at the Bar was often solitary and therefore not for me.
Knowing that I am motivated by working as part of a team with some of the best legal minds globally, I started to shift my attention to global law firms with London-based offices. I first encountered Clifford Chance at a law fair. I was impressed by the firm's genuine commitment to professional and personal development, and the entrepreneurial, open and progressive culture that I first saw displayed by the associates I spoke to that afternoon (which has remained true ever since).
I applied for a place on Clifford Chance's summer vacation scheme, but was rejected at application stage. Undeterred, I sought feedback and attended an open day to address the points of development from my initial application. I was successful in securing a Training Contract offer from Clifford Chance and graduated from Durham University in 2016, excited for the next chapter of my life.
My first seat was in the structured debt department. Looking back, I remember feeling nervous prior to starting because I had never heard of structured debt before. Despite this, I found my niche within the team. I enjoyed the broad range of work and really felt that the views of all members of the team were not only listened to but actively encouraged and welcomed.
While my time in the structured debt department was incredibly busy, I developed skills quickly, which put me in a good position for my second seat in general banking in our Hong Kong office.
The smaller team meant a step up in responsibility compared to what I was used to. I worked on the cross-border financing of a Chinese bio-food conglomerate directly with a partner, for example. Being able to live and work in a new culture was one of the main reasons why I wanted to work at a global law firm, so, from a personal perspective, it is unsurprising that my time in Hong Kong was quite honestly the best period of my life.
My final two seats were spent in the private funds team and the transactional derivatives team, both in London. Upon qualification, I chose to join the structured debt team (which subsequently merged with real estate finance to become SABRE) because it provided the best opportunity to develop a broad base of finance, capital markets and corporate skills in a market-leading team led by some of the best lawyers in the industry. Since I have qualified, I have worked on a broad range of transactions, including:
- a series of portfolio acquisition transactions whereby assets (usually portfolios of Mortgage Loans) were purchased following competitive bid processes. The team advised on both the acquisition and financing limbs of such transactions for both private equity sponsors and investment banks, as well as the refinancing of the debt incurred during the acquisition phase through a securitisation exit into the capital markets;
- a borrowing base facility used to finance the acquisition of vehicles (which were used as collateral to secure the debt) as part of the divestment of a pan-European online vehicle auction business from a pan-European vehicle rental business; and
- a forward flow warehouse used to finance the origination of student loans advanced to high-performing students who wish to study post-graduate courses at top UK and US universities.