(Senior Specialist, Global Corporate Maintenance Solutions)
Why did you choose to study law?
I wanted to pursue a degree that would challenge me and provide a strong foundation for a future career. I loved English literature, history and politics at school but I felt that the law degree at Queen’s would challenge me whilst allowing me the opportunity to draw upon my interests and skills in those subject areas. I didn't know if I wanted to be a solicitor or a barrister and in an effort to understand more about the legal profession, combined with an interest in criminal justice and human rights, I sought out work experience with a multi-disciplinary legal practise in Belfast before I started at Queen’s. I worked there throughout my studies. Although I really enjoyed the busy days and the interaction with my colleagues and clients, as I progressed through my studies at Queen's, I developed an interest in other areas of law.
How did you end up in Baker McKenzie?
Shortly after I graduated from Queen’s, I decided to pursue a career in corporate law to broaden my experience and to fulfil my aspiration to work for a global law firm. I had been following the opening of a number of large global firms in Belfast with interest. I was excited by the opportunity to gain the type of experience in a global firm that previously would have meant a relocation to another city. I love Belfast and I wanted to remain here. I took a career break at this point to have my first child and soon after, I spotted an opening at Baker McKenzie. I was delighted to secure a role within the legal services department of the Belfast office in 2015 and hit the ground running! I completed high profile due diligence projects for a number of our international key clients, including a major project for a large technology company in the US.
What does your current role involve?
I joined the Global Corporate Maintenance Solutions (“GCMS”) team in 2017 having successfully completed a secondment with that team. I am now a Senior Specialist with GCMS and I provide clients with coordination and proactive management of their corporate maintenance requirements for their global portfolio of entities. I currently oversee the coordination of regularly occurring compliance matters, lead client calls and develop client relationships, review and implement engagement terms for each client assignment and coordinate large multi-jurisdictional corporate change projects. I act as an escalation point for my team on our respective client projects and attend regular calls with the client to go through open compliance items. My role also involves maintaining a bespoke, client-facing entity management platform that tracks upcoming compliance deadlines and corporate information for the client 24/7. With a rapidly growing client portfolio, working with new clients has become a huge part of my role. It is critical to my role that I have a high level of attention to detail, efficient processes and effective communication with our local counsel teams around the globe to ensure everything runs smoothly.
What interesting changes have happened, or are happening to their field?
Baker McKenzie has provided company secretarial and corporate governance services to clients for decades and is currently ranked number one in Chambers for Corporate Governance matters. Against a backdrop of increased regulatory enforcement of penalties for late or lapsed compliance, we find that our clients are increasingly looking for greater centralised control and visibility of their corporate filing obligations and entity compliance on a global basis. In response, the GCMS service has grown significantly in recent years. From managing regular compliance tasks such as ratifying board minutes in relation to annual accounts filings, we have seen an increase in beneficial ownership and transparency reporting requirements and more complex regulation. Our team has grown from providing a service to truly partnering with our clients to meet their complex needs. We expect this area of law to continue to expand and affect significant change into the future.
Advice and tips for current students?
A key takeaway from my time at Queen’s would be to really pursue interests outside of your studies and really consider your career path. Previously, the traditional route for law graduates to follow was qualification as a solicitor or barrister. Now, Belfast has a thriving legal sector with different career paths available. There are so many roles out there offering opportunities to develop your career so take every opportunity to research the different options and talk to your network of friends and family about what it is like to work in different types of firms. Law can be a wonderful springboard into an alternative career!
What’s important during selection/recruitment, or to demonstrate at a job interview?
Preparation is key! Research the company you are applying to and be able to show you have a real interest in working there - this is always impressive. As with all interviews, developing your skills in answering competency based questions is incredibly important. Always have a strong bank of examples to use and relate these back to the question, whether it relates to communication, teamwork or leadership skills. It lets the interviewer see that you have experience either through work or your studies to fit the role you are applying for.
Do extracurriculars matter (in bolstering a student’s CV)?
In my opinion, yes – it’s always great to see a potential candidate's interests outside of their work and studies and how these have helped hone particular skills. It also lets the employer see more of your personality.
What did you love about studying at QUB?
I really enjoyed the calibre of the academic staff at Queen’s. Also in my final year, I was able to choose modules that interested me outside of the traditional heavier subjects. I had the opportunity to work closely with the professors leading those modules in smaller groups on topics like Transitional Justice and Privacy, Press and New Technology and found their experience invaluable, interesting and engaging.