As he transitioned from trainee to qualified solicitor he became “much more hands- on with big-ticket negotiations”. Now as part of the banking and finance team at Macfarlanes, Owen’s work covers debt financing as well as other related fields, including restructuring and insolvency. Clients are “either borrowing money or lending money, so the bulk of what we do is agreeing terms between borrowers and lenders for that financing,” he explains. “When you qualify, you move to dealing with the main operative agreements that govern the terms of the financing, which is the natural progression that happens when you transition from a trainee to a solicitor.” The fast-paced nature of the job and the pressure that comes with getting a deal across the line on time is an aspect of his career that Owen thrives off. Describing his enjoyment of a fast-paced role, Owen recalls a “testing two-week transaction” as a particular highlight of his career to date: “It involved very late nights and intensive negotiations with the other side to get the deal across the line in time with quite a hard deadline. When you pull through against the odds in circumstances like those – as well as being pleased to catch up with some sleep – you’re also proud that you’ve managed to get the deal done under tough circumstances, and with a positive outcome for your client.” As a banking solicitor Owen often liaises with lawyers from different practices across the firm: “Even though I work in the banking and finance team, I often work closely with our corporate and investment management groups, as well as other specialists.” The teams that he collaborates with depends on the type of financing that his team is dealing with. He adds: “Liaising between teams is always satisfying, especially when you’re all working to a tight timescale with the same objective.”
Banking and finance is a global industry involving a wide variety of financial products, ranging from simple bank loans to companies, to highly structured financing arrangements across multiple jurisdictions. The rise of internationalisation and the development of increasingly sophisticated financing structures mean that modern banking law and practice is becoming ever more complex. In the post-financial crisis era, banking and finance lawyers find themselves at the forefront of the evolution and recovery of the industry. “I think it is personality-related,” begins Owen Giles as he considers what made him choose the solicitor route over a career at the Bar. “I like working as part of a team and having boots on the ground. I think I knew I was going to be a transactional lawyer and getting deals across the line appealed to me more than standing up in court. For me and my personality the solicitor pathway was the more attractive of the two.” After completing an undergraduate degree in finance with management at The University of Westminster, Owen went on to study his LLB at City, University of London. A “pretty swift” two-year training contract with corporate law firmMacfarlanes followed. Day-to-day: check your interests Looking back on his experience as a trainee at Macfarlanes, Owen remembers his seat in the banking and finance team as “the most positive” during his training contract, which made his qualification choices that bit easier: “I was given somuch responsibility even as a trainee, so when it came tomakingmy qualification choices, it was easy to picture myself as a solicitor in the team. As a trainee your role is to help your small team to complete conditions precedent, which is all the ancillary documents, evidence or agreements that must be completed before a deal can go ahead.”
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