Month in the life of a Partner
Some thoughts on working life from Kevin Devanny, a Partner in our Glasgow office.
Never a dull moment
There is no such thing as a typical corporate transaction. I’m lucky enough to be involved in a broad range of transactions across a number of different sectors and no two deals are the same. I do a lot of private company mergers and acquisitions, with expertise in transport, airports in particular, but this year I’ve also been involved in an offshore wind farm joint venture between international utility companies, the acquisition of a Gibraltar insurance company for a US private equity fund, a group reorganisation for a property development group and the sale of a Scottish football club (insert your own joke here).
Clients look to us, not just for legal solutions but also for sound commercial advice. Our work allows us to get under the skin of companies and gives us a unique insight into the commercial objectives of our clients. So although contract reviews, due diligence reports and disclosure exercises may not seem the most glamorous of jobs, they are hugely important. These are the tools that allow us understand how a business operates and to provide the kind of advice that clients are looking for from us.
As the lead corporate lawyer on a transaction I will very often take on the role of a project manager: drawing experts together from across the firm, pooling resources, keeping track of everyone’s progress and making sure deadlines are met. Working well as a team is essential and it means I get to spend time with a lot of colleagues in from lots of different teams (Real Estate, Employment, Pensions, Projects, Litigation, etc.) and with colleagues from different offices and jurisdictions.
9 to 5.... Not
A lot of my week is taken up “on the tools” working with the corporate team on drafting, due diligence, negotiation and keeping clients up to date with progress reports. We’re in the middle of a share acquisition at the moment, with clients based in different countries. It means a bit of travel, lots of documents and a few late nights. It’s not always easy -my alarm clock is the victim of routine physical abuse – but it is very rewarding, especially because our clients are generally so appreciative.
Adrenalin gets me through the long days in the lead up to a completion but it’s rare to be stuck late in the office alone. There is usually plenty of (mostly) good natured company to keep you going, along with the occasional argument about whose turn it is to order in pizza. Sometimes there is nothing else you can do but keep going until the job is done.
Never underestimate the importance of delivery (legal, not pizza) and service. Clients will remember the next time they have a transaction and that is how we build our reputation in a very competitive legal market.
All work and no play makes you a very dull and unsuccessful lawyer
This month a client has invited me to a shipping industry charity dinner and we are also hosting a table at an awards dinner. These are great opportunities to spend time with clients out of the office environment and to build up contacts.
There is no point in having brilliant knowledge of the Companies Act if you are so dull that no-one is going to instruct you. Making a connection on a human level is just as important as legal ability.
The corporate team are also planning a team night out to welcome new trainees to the department. We spend a lot of time in each other’s company so these nights are a great opportunity to take a break from work and let your hair down. These tend not to be nights of high culture for my team: you may not be able to see your supervisor in the same light again after seeing him/her dressed as Elvis on a night of karaoke and general exuberance.
Building for the future
I work closely with the graduate recruitment and development team. As Training Principal for Scotland I’m here to help them with the application process, recruitment of candidates and with the development programme for trainees. I have the pleasure of introducing trainees to the firm when they arrive and the privilege of “signing off” our qualifying trainees as fully fledged solicitors. It’s great to spot potential in applicants and to see that develop and flourish through their traineeship and beyond.
Getting the right people on board and giving them the best start are absolutely crucial for the continued success of our business. After all, it’s approachable, bold and connected people that make Pinsent Masons different from the competition.