Moving on up: Lawyer 2B catches up with some old friends

Lawyer 2B has interviewed a lot of trainees over the years. We caught up with a couple of them to see how their careers have progressed

Michelle Kennedy

Trained at: Dickinson Dees (now Bond Dickinson), Newcastle

Featured in Lawyer 2B: Autumn 2006 issue

Now: General counsel at social networking site Badoo

Emma Kennedy old
Then: Emma Kennedy as a Dickinson Dees trainee, from a 2006 issue of Lawyer 2B

What did you do on qualification?

I was going to qualify into employment at Dickinson Dees, which would have left me with a very different career. Instead I came down to London and joined Mishcon de Reya’s corporate department.

It was meant to be a mix of corporate and commercial but turned out just to be corporate, which was actually pretty perfect. 

I didn’t know it at the time but it put me in very good stead to do what I do now.

What did your time at Mishcon involve?

I was a corporate assistant for two and a bit years and then I was sent on secondment to a client which was very acquisitive and had lots of corporate and commercial work. The company asked me to come on board full-time so I decided to leave Mishcon.

It was called Quotient BioResearch and I stayed there for just over a year before things began to quieten down and the work became quite standard. I had put processes in place for everything and all of a sudden it was just me and it was starting to wear thin.

What did you do then?

Somebody at Mishcon suggested I go and talk to this Russian guy called Andrey Andreev, they said he was amazing and he ran this site called Badoo. 

I looked at the site and thought to myself, ‘Nope: I definitely do not want to work there, it’s a dating site’. 

But the person persuaded me to meet him anyway and then make up my mind as the company really needed a lawyer.

He was crazy, but bright and exciting. It was tech, which was something I was interested in, so I made the leap. I have been here four years in February.

Kennedy

What does your job at Badoo involve?

Badoo now is a very different place to when I joined. I was sole counsel and they had never had a lawyer before. Everything was in a bit of a mess but I wasn’t surprised or intimated by that. I was learning a new industry and sorting things out as I went.

I am now GC and have a team of lawyers who work with me. I am a director of the business and only around 30 per cent of my time is spent on legal now. Most of it is focused on the rest of the business – some of it is operational and some is strategic. It is amazing and something I would never have got to do anywhere else. I love it.

Did you ever think you would become a general counsel?

No, actually. I suppose back in the day when I used to watch Ally McBeal and think about being a lawyer I thought I would be some kind of litigator. I realised that litigation wasn’t for me when I got older and began to understand the law more. Being involved in business is something I love. I like the business world more than I would have done if I had stayed in private practice.

What are you focusing on now?

It is interesting to be able to understand an industry like this – tech and particularly mobile is so fast-moving. Legislation cannot keep up and regulators are often slowing us down because they are imposing regulation based on their understanding of how things work when in practice it is very different.

My job involves more policy than law and it is about how to stay innovative, how to stay agile and how to stay on top. For a business like Badoo that wants to grow, staying agile is really important. We have around 110 people in London and another 100 in Moscow and then a few others dotted around the world.

What one piece of advice would you give to your trainee self?

The people that are hardest on you are generally the people who believe in you the most.

Katherine Waugh

Trained at: Addleshaw Goddard, Manchester

Featured in Lawyer 2B: Winter 2009 issue

Now: 4PQE associate at Addleshaw Goddard (on secondment at Travelodge)

Katherine Waugh old
Then: Katherine Waugh as a trainee from a 2009 issue of Lawyer 2B

What did you do on qualification?

I qualified in 2010 into the corporate department, which was my first choice. I trained in Manchester and moved to Leeds during my training contract. I went there for my last seat and have family further north and decided to stay there. Addleshaws is a top firm in both Leeds and Manchester and I always intended to stay there.

Why did you choose to stay at Addleshaw Goddard?

It’s provided a great career path. I have been involved in really big deals and although I am at the same firm, the role has really changed. You start leading on transactions and negotiating key documents and making commercial decisions. You are supervising other people and project-managing.

There are quite a few people I trained with who are still here and I have really been able to develop my relationship with clients over time and become a trusted contact. Your function widens and you start working on a more commercial basis.

What sort of corporate work do you enjoy most?

For me, one of the main advantages of staying here is that I get both local and international work – I really enjoy working with the big local corporates, private equity-backed and otherwise. It has been great to develop over the years in the same ambitious team. One good thing about being in the corporate department is that you work on deals where all parties are pleased with the outcome, like a joint-venture or a strategic move to consolidate a particular bit of the company.

I was recently involved in a high-value, cross-border joint venture which was huge in its sector. It was for a long-term client and it felt like we were an extension of their business. It ran for a long time and it was a high level of pressure and responsibility. We had quite a bit of negotiating against magic circle partners and the outcome was great. It was a really exciting deal to be involved in.

Waugh

What are you doing at the moment?

I am on secondment at Travelodge, which is a highlight for me. It is my first client secondment and I am enjoying working at the heart of the company. You experience the different aims and pressures on the company and the individuals. 

There’s a variety of work, from negotiating a wide spectrum of contracts to answering queries on areas such as advertising, real estate and employment. It is a fantastic experience and has really developed me as a lawyer. It is always exciting if you are involved in the day-to-day activities of a business.

What one piece of advice would you give to your trainee self?

I think the absolute essential thing is to work hard and be enthusiastic everything. You have to seize the opportunity to do absolutely everything you can as a trainee and push for the best work you can get.

Trainees should take ownership of tasks because supervisors need to be able to trust you. Even doing simple things like filing documents at the Land Registry or Companies House immediately or putting together every single document from a deal or case together in the bible. If you can do these things very quickly and effectively then the senior lawyers will really quickly give you the bigger tasks.