Brothers in Law
Brothers in Law
Written by Laura Barrett and Andreea Serban, students at Nottingham Law School, Nottingham Trent University.
Two brothers, Richard and Andrew Needham both graduated from the LLB (Hons) Sandwich degree at Nottingham Trent University in 2005 and 2007 and each had the same career plan, to try and be the best lawyers in their field.
We spoke to the brothers when they were just embarking on their careers in 2007 (the photo below is taken from the original article). Now over ten years later, Richard is a Partner at Baker McKenzie and practices global Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) and Andrew is the Group Legal Counsel for Synectics plc.
We had the opportunity to catch up with them recently and ask how they got to where they are now and here is what they said…
Tell us a bit about yourself
Richard (R) – I am a Corporate Partner at Baker McKenzie. I advise multinational clients on M&A transactions on a global scale. I help companies all over the world and as a result, have managed to live all over the world through my career.
Andrew (A) – I am the Group Legal Counsel at Synectics plc, an international company who design, manufacture and install security surveillance products, systems and solutions. I am an in-house lawyer and I advise Synectics on a very broad range of legal issues arising both domestically and internationally.
What was the best thing about studying at NTU?
R – Without a shadow of a doubt, it was doing a placement year on my Sandwich course. Without that experience, I probably would not have landed my first job at Baker McKenzie. It was pivotal, to both my professional and personal development. I developed a lot of skills that I wouldn’t have until later in my career.
A – I agree, the placement was why I picked the course. My A-levels results were not as good as anticipated, so I needed to differentiate myself from the competition. I thought the chance to complete a year of work experience would give me that ‘edge’ when applying for graduate roles.
Why did you decide to become a solicitor?
R – I sometimes ask myself that question! My placement was at the Crown Prosecution Service and I gained invaluable experience and insight into the legal profession. I enjoyed the combination of legal theory with practice and the sense that I was helping others. I used my placement year to explore other areas of law, and even did a vacation scheme at another firm using my annual leave! I particularly enjoyed the variety of work that commercial law offered as well as the opportunity to get close to businesses, and decided it was the career for me.
A – I did not really know what else I could do!
Tell us about a memorable case you’ve worked on…
R - My most memorable case was advising Emerson Electric Co to divest its global Network Power business in a deal valued over $4 billion. The project ran for over eighteen months, involved people from all over the world, and I was one of the lead associates working on it, which meant I had a lot of responsibility to deliver for my client.
A – My most memorable case was in a previous role where I helped advise on the sale of a championship football club. The project lasted for about 2-3 months over the Christmas period and it was very intense. Despite this, being able to visit the club, spend time in their offices, and to gain some understanding of the mad world of professional football was quite something. There was also the knowledge that what I was working on would be in the news the following day.
What is the best thing about where you work?
R – The best thing is my firm’s international culture and outlook. My workplace is truly diverse and inclusive.
A – Variety. As an in-house lawyer I am sent anything that may have a legal flavour from the business. The business has offices on four different continents, so the sun never really sets on Synectics. Someone always needs help with something. In a day, I can deal with queries relating to commercial contract negotiations, anti-terrorism investigations and selling shares on the stock market and everything in between.
How has the legal profession changed during your career?
R – Law firms face increased competition and cost pressures. Some of this pressure now comes from non-traditional sources in the market, for example, the big four accountancy firms building legal practices and alternative legal services providers. Law firms are having to redefine themselves and their clients offering to maintain their competitiveness. Clients look for law firms to offer them more than legal advice, you now see firms investing in innovation programs and legal technology (AI), to help make their processes quicker and more efficient. All of this has an impact on the role of the legal profession who must learn to adapt to the changing world around them.
A - I agree. It is a completely different landscape from when we were trainees. The profession is more accessible than ever before and competition to achieve qualification is even tougher. Practically you can see a lot of changes, many aspects of the job are run online via the Cloud and the days of being permanently stuck in one office seem to have changed too – I have not had ‘my own desk’ for years now – I almost always work remotely.
What advice would you give to a law student at NTU?
R – Take ownership of your career as early as possible. I see students focused on academics. Academic records are important but just one part of your CV and they do not distinguish candidates, they are an entry requirement. Firms are looking to build a fuller picture of your experience, skills and attributes and what makes you different from the next candidate. Building your work experience and broader skills base is critical to ensure you have a well-rounded CV.
A - Get work experience. The competition in the market is tougher now because there are more candidates and less roles available, so you must find a way to stand out. There are two ways of doing this – work experience and personality. Achieving your highest degree score possible will also not hurt.
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