26 Apr Q&A: Ashurst LLP Banking & Finance
Andrew Inglis, Montgomery’s new UK Associate Director, caught up with Ashurst LLP Banking & Finance Partners Martyn Rogers & Tim Rennie for a short Q&A discussion around what the banking & finance practice groups look like in the “post pandemic” world. Here’s what they had to say…
Transactional practice groups have been booming in top law firms recently. Have you noticed any particular challenges or opportunities arising in the banking market against the backdrop of COVID-19 (and the post-pandemic world)?
The COVID lockdowns caused an acceleration of change in working practises – probably 10 or 15 years’ worth of change occurred in 2 years. Lawyers and clients alike became comfortable executing entire transactions working remotely and it didn’t matter if people were in London or Glasgow or wherever; they operated as a single, seamless team. We, like most firms, have moved to a hybrid working model; we believe it provides the best of both worlds, promoting both flexibility and culture and training. Post-COVID economic ramifications mean clients will continue to focus on efficiency and value for money. Expect to see greater use of AI and different resourcing models, such as our strong Glasgow based team of legal analysts.
One of the key challenges is the well-being of our team. In-person conversations are really important to us to support our people, in addition to a career coaching system, we implemented during the lockdowns where every associate has regular check-ins with a partner coach and we now have a “wellness hub” online with numerous free resources that can be accessed at any time.
What is keeping your team busy at the moment? Are you focusing on any particular sectors/sub sectors?
We operate a dual model of transactional work and major projects. Last year saw us working on major LIBOR transition projects while the transactional side was incredibly hot. This year has seen us continue to be busy on the transactional side, while we are starting to see the re-emergence of non performing loan sale processes and we can see restructuring work becoming busy by the end of the year.
What type of exposure could a prospective new associate or senior associate expect if they were to join the team in 2022?
Especially at the junior end we aim to give people a broad diet of work; this helps develop confident, flexible lawyers able to adapt nimbly to changing economic cycles. As people become more experienced they naturally tend to gravitate towards 2 or 3 product lines. I think the volatile macro-economic environment means transactions will be more challenging to get over the line this year; they will be less cookie cutter and will involve more strategic planning and problem solving ability which plays to our team’s strengths.
Ashurst’s Global Loans team is unique in the UK, in that lawyers sit in Glasgow & London and work on the same matters. How does this working dynamic benefit lawyers in the team?
We genuinely see ourselves as a single UK team rather than Glasgow and London teams. As mentioned above our lawyers took COVID lockdowns in their stride as they were already used to working across multi-site teams. London remains the financial capital of Europe and the biggest and most interesting transactions tend to originate there. We offer our lawyers the ability to work on these matters while also enjoying the quality of life that somewhere like Glasgow has to offer – great bars and restaurants all within walking distance and easy access to amazing countryside.
Banking is of course a specialist area of law, but we are increasingly seeing lawyers with broader skillsets doing well in the area – what do you feel are the core skills a lawyer should possess in order to be successful in the London or Glasgow team?
Common sense, accountability and a strong sense of team. If people possess these qualities we are adept at teaching them banking law pretty easily. Our Group Head, Mark Edwards, actually started life as a corporate lawyer before he saw the light!
As a firm, Ashurst is very international in its outlook – have you had success hiring from overseas or other UK jurisdictions in the past? Is there anything in particular you feel that these team members have been able to add to the group?
20% of the Banking Partners are from Scotland or Ireland which possibly answers the question and also makes it interesting when the 6 Nations Rugby comes around. We are also pleased to have just made an Australian lawyer up to partner from May 2022. We have had lawyers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, US, South Africa, Hong Kong, India and many European jurisdictions. Each person has added their own perspective and contributed to the sense of team and sense of fun.
Similarly, what do you feel would be the key challenges an internationally qualified banking lawyer might face when entering the UK market?
There really are fewer obstacles than one would imagine; we aim to make the transition as painless as possible. The characteristics of a transaction are pretty much the same the world over but the transactions in the London market are maybe a little bit more international in nature which places a premium on good transaction management skills and the ability to always see the end game.
Where would you like the team to be in 2 years’ time?
A continuation of the same – doing cutting edge work for great clients, while creating opportunities for our lawyers to thrive and progress and have fun.
You’ve been with Ashurst for the majority of your career (as have many others in the group) – what is behind this longevity, and what makes the firm a great place to work?
MR: I joined the firm in 1998. I trained in Birmingham but quickly realised that I needed to gain some experience of the greater deal throughput in the London market. I only intended to stay for 2 years before returning North but here I am 24 years later. I stay for the same reason I joined – the culture; many of the people here are friends who I would choose to spend time with even if I didn’t work here.
TR: I trained in London and moved across to Ashurst in 2007, seeking more international transactions as a leveraged finance lawyer. Over the last 15 years I have been able to transition through being a restructuring banking lawyer during the global financial crisis to focus on corporate lending as my current area of speciality. Ashurst is incredibly supportive of its lawyers developing expertise in their chosen area and being surrounded by a collaborative team who are passionate about the quality of their work and pulling together on every deal to give the client the best experience makes Ashurst such a great place to work.
Andrew Inglis, Associate Director
Andrew has recently joined Montgomery Advisory to work alongside Glenn Johnston to assist and support in the continued growth of the UK business.
He has over twenty years’ experience supporting and advising qualified lawyers at all levels and stages in their careers across the Scottish and London legal markets within Private Practice and In-House.
Candidates and clients alike value Andrew’s honest, consultative and pragmatic approach in assisting in finding the right position and the most ideal fit. He takes a genuine interest in an individual’s career drivers, values and motivators which enables him to match their skill set to the most appropriate opportunities. He provides candidates with hands on practical advice and support throughout the recruitment process and is genuinely passionate about helping both client and candidate succeed.
Please feel free to reach out to Andrew for a confidential career discussion on +44 (0)7901 507028 / email@example.com.