The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2021

Name: David Griffith-Jones Firm: Sullivan & Cromwell Location: London University: Brasenose College, Oxford University Undergraduate degree: Law

extreme are firms that specialise in high-end, individually tailored advice. “Clients are paying for all-round business advisors rather than just lawyers. People who understand the industry, the issues that their clients are likely to encounter and the concerns that matter to them – and who charge accordingly.” This isdefinitely thebracket intowhichSullivan &Cromwell slots. Talking toGriffith-Jones it becomesclear that the firmhasbeenable to position itself in thisnicheby investingagreat deal of careandresources in itspeople. “Great business lawyers tend tohavenot onlyhigh IQbut alsoEQ(emotional intelligence)whocandealwell withpeopleandapply their intellect toproblems and findsolutions in innovativeways. AtS&Cthis feeds into the thinkingbetween thebroadpractice areas thatwehave–creatingdivisionssuits lawyersnot clients.” Skillsandexperience Sowhat skillsdoyouneed tobecomepart of this rarefiedworld?First upyouhave tobeable to deal withagoodamount of pressure; next is the ability tohandlesignificant amountsof information – toabsorb it andsynthesise it. Dedication is Griffith-Jones’skeysuggestion. “Peoplewhodo well at corporate lawfirms tend toenjoyandbe deeply interested in thework that our clientsdo. If youdon’t thedramaof ahostilepublic takeover interesting, or aren’t interested inwhyandhow businessespursue their strategies, thenmaybe this isnot the field for you.”He recommends that anyoneconsideringbecomingabusiness lawyer shouldbecomea regular reader of TheEconomist and thecompaniessectionof the Financial Times . When it comes to advice, his takeaway is to do asmany vacation schemes as it is possible to fit in – he believes that it is the onlyway to get a true flavour of a firm. Even then, there is only somuch you can learn in twoweeks. “Speak to people ahead of you – if you’re a first year, try to keep in touchwith third yearswho are off to do their LPCs. They’re going into the lion’s den ahead of you – they’ll give you the unvarnished truth.”

ofdeepexpertise–fromemployment law, tothe taximplicationstoenvironmental impact–it isthe corporateteamthatoftensitsatthecentreofthe transaction. “It isour jobtosynthesisethisinformation andpresent ittotheclient,”Griffith-Jonesexplains succinctly. “Weneedtohaveadeepunderstanding oftheissuesthatmattertothem–totell the differencebetweena$1millionmatteranda$100 millionmatter–andtoadvisetheclientaccordingly.” As a solicitor who qualified in 2017, Griffith-Jones is realistic about the nature of his day-to-day work. “I’m the person in the data room, keeping track of issues and trying to consolidate them.” He is also involved in drafting documents, a task he describeswith a refreshing lack of ego. “I might make a first draft and then send it to the partner –who sendsme comments,” he laughs. “I redraft based on this, then they sendme comments again. Eventuallywe send it to the client, who hopefully doesn’t have as many comments as the partner – but eventually we come upwith a final version.” And having survived such a rigorous process, you can bet that the end product will bewatertight. Stormyweather The entire legal sector faces big changes in the coming years and corporate law is no exception to this. Griffith-Jones reports that one buzz word right now is ‘barbellisation’, which describes an inverse bell curve with price at one end and quality at the other and very little left in the middle. Legal tech and AI are allowing procedural tasks to be carried out more efficiently and thus for greatly reduced costs, while at the other Clientsarepayingforall-round businessadvisorsrather thanjust lawyers.Peoplewhounderstand the industry, theissuesthat their clientsarelikelytoencounterand theconcernsthatmatter tothem


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