Week in the Life of an Associate
Find out about the week in the life of one of our Associates, Matthew Clayton-Stead, in the Leeds office.
When I come into the office on Monday I have an idea of how the week might go, but it’s generally very fluid and can change by the hour. As a transactional lawyer in the finance team I spend a lot of my time drafting loan and security agreements and taking calls.
Today I find out that one of the transactions I’ve been working on has been put on ice. But there are plenty of other things that urgently need doing, including putting a quote and project scope together for a bank that might have some new business for us.
I get in early today because I need to leave early – it’s one of the two days a week I pick my daughter up from school at 4.45pm.
I have a few calls scheduled to go through deals that have hit a bit of a log jam. One of them is on a tight deadline and, as with all our work, we need to satisfy the client’s expectations on timescales. We agree to have a meeting with everyone involved on Wednesday. I spend most of the rest of the day making sure other transactions are running smoothly, supervising the work of our junior solicitors and paralegals.
Later that evening, after I’ve put my daughter to bed, I log back on to my PC and check what’s happened since I’ve been out of the office.
All parties are in the office for our meeting, to go through a list of issues on the deal in hand, and try to reach agreement. It’s a long slog. For the lawyers in the room it’s a question of providing good chairmanship, letting our clients have the relationship they need. We’re there to guide and facilitate, while always keeping the commercial imperatives of the deal in mind.
There’s a real element of give and take on this one, which is often how you reach the best result for your client. After five hours round the table, there’s finally agreement, which is genuinely satisfying. This is the part of my job I enjoy the most. Yes, there is a lot of pushing paper around, but when everything gathers momentum and comes together, it feels great.
One of my clients has a real estate deal going through. They have French and German subsidiaries, which means we need to make sure everything works for them as well, from a legal perspective. Although I can’t advise on the law in these countries, my colleagues abroad can help. So I spend some time on the phone to our Paris and Munich offices, then distil their advice into a consistent message for our client. This is the kind of work I’m increasingly involved in, as our clients become more and more international.
I qualified at the same time as the recession hit, which made for an eventful few years handling insolvencies and working on restructuring deals. You just didn’t know what to expect next. In the last 18 – 24 months there’s definitely been a change – a sense of growth, thanks in large part to a more dynamic real estate market.
When I’m not drafting and documenting loans, I’m probably on the phone. These days meetings are much more likely to take place on a conference call, rather than in person, and I have a couple today.
I have lunch with a client. It’s good to get out of the office, and to catch up in a more informal setting. I often find myself working with the same people, which is one of things I like about being based in Leeds. Building a rapport with clients and with other lawyers is important: deals are run in a more constructive way and you’re more likely to get repeat business too.
At 5.30pm it’s time to leave for drinks. My corporate, tax and pension colleagues are heading out to mark the changeover of trainees. It’s a nice way to end a week that’s been fairly under control – it doesn’t always run so smoothly…