Lawyer Profile Stephen Tobin
To start with, I didn’t know what area of law I wanted to qualify into, although I knew I enjoyed transactional work. Moving around different seats, between offices and sectors, made it difficult to decide. Then in my second-year, one of my seats was in Energy – which happened at the time to be in the middle of a large transaction for a huge multinational. I found myself sitting in client meetings, with points worth tens of millions of pounds being debated. The constant intellectual challenge and the pressure of being involved in a big commercial deal gave me a buzz I really liked.
Partly, the training is about exposing you to these situations, and giving you a first-hand feel for negotiations between large organisations. It certainly helped me to decide on what I wanted to qualify into. I’ve been working in the Energy and Infrastructure sectors ever since.
Energy’s a good focus – it’s international, it’s an essential sector, and you get to deal with specialists across the firm. It also offers ample room for choice – we have people who advise on oil and gas, on renewables, on fracking, on gas and coal power projects and also on nuclear. These are all very different areas of expertise – and all areas of law come into play.
Understanding how a national electricity network functions may sound geeky to some, but I’m fascinated by the technical detail. For example – who owns electricity as it makes its way from power station to socket? Is it the individual electrons that you use or is it the power you use? To advise properly, you need to understand the issues – and not just be holding the pen.