Name: Owen Giles Firm: Macfarlanes LLP Location: London University: The University of Westminster Undergraduate degree: Finance with management
still providing the high-quality service that clients are expecting”.
Although Owen thrives off the pressure that working as a banking solicitor offers, he also emphasises how significant it is for aspiring lawyers to identify which area of law it is that they enjoy the most, as working late is not uncommon: “You have to accept that the job becomes a very substantial part of your life. You must be sure that you enjoy what you do – I love my job, so the thought of working long hours doesn’t fill me with dread.” Moving with the times As the world continues to weather the effects of covid-19 and law firms have been forced to move online and work remotely, Owen praises how well this necessary transition has gone as firms across the country were required to employ the most recent technology to ensure their employees could effectively work remotely. “The current events have shown that law firms can continue to work remotely, which is not something I think they’d have been able to do a few years ago – technology has been the largest driver behind that. The ability for people to work remotely and to do so seamlessly has been really impressive.” The global pandemic has also initiated a change in the way that his team completes deals remotely: “We have been using electronic signing software for our clients to sign documents, and for us to exchange signed documents between lawyers. While it was possible to do this before the pandemic, lawyers have now been forced to get used to adopting this technology so I would expect more deals in future to be signed in this way.” Going forward, Owen believes that using new technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) will be crucial to the legal world. “Over the next five or so years, as clients become more cost conscious and want to drive efficiencies with their fee quotes, law firms must work on their internal efficiencies. Part of that will be using new technologies, whether that’s AI or otherwise, to meet those requirements while
Keep an open mind He emphasises that as aspiring lawyers set out on their journey into the legal profession, they must have the right attitude and be motivated. There is understandably a “fear of the unknown” aspect for all trainees waiting to start their training contract: “As a trainee there is a fear that you’re expected to know everything, but you’re not. I think the key is to understand that it’s a learning process and you’ll quickly realise that there are a lot of opportunities that will continue to fall into your lap, very much so in this team, which will lead to you picking up knowledge and experience very quickly.” He also highlights the need for trainees to approach their training contract with confidence and offers some suggestions on how best to find this confidence for aspiring lawyers who are naturally worried about the experience. He explains that “a positive mindset and a proactive choice to be confident in what you’re doing can go a long way. This positive mindset comes from settling into the fact that you might not know what you’re doing but also nobody expects you to know what you’re doing at this stage”. Finally, Owen recalls how a large proportion of his trainee cohort at Macfarlanes qualified into a different practice to the one they had initially imagined. He offers his advice to those trying to identify the right area of law for them: “Don’t limit yourself in terms of what you believe will be interesting for you as you start your career. Keep an open mind and you might be surprised.”
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