Name: Kem Ihenacho
Firm: Latham & Watkins
Position: Corporate partner
Degree: Law LLB (Hons)
Hobbies: Rugby, skiing, waterskiing, sailing
Area of practice: Private Equity, energy and infrastructure, Africa-related work
When and why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
I read law at uni and liked the idea of being an adviser to businesses. I felt that as a solicitor I would have closer contact with a diverse group of clients than I might as a barrister.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
Winning new business and new clients; a glass (or two, or three!) of champagne on closing a deal; helping young lawyers and trainees develop and succeed.
What are the worst aspects of your job?
What’s the main issue that lawyers in your field are thinking about at the moment?
The different products available to finance leveraged acquisitions. Increasingly deals in Europe are being financed with high yield bonds and US financings.
If you weren’t in your current field, what other area of law would you like to work in?
Project finance. I like the idea of helping to develop the infrastructure of a country, particularly in emerging markets by financing the construction of a road or power plant, for example. I often work in partnership with project finance lawyers to deliver advice on some really interesting projects in Africa. For example, we recently advised on the development and financing of electricity power plants in Nigeria.
What’s the biggest misconception that students have about life as a lawyer?
That’s a difficult one! I think some students are surprised at how early on in a career you get to have quite a lot of responsibility and client contact. It’s not true of every firm, but certainly at Latham junior lawyers play an active role in dealing with clients on transactions and have an important part to play in keeping our clients happy with what we do. You also get a strong voice inside the firm as well – it’s a collaborative culture and there is no ‘them’ and ‘us’ between partners and junior lawyers. The associates even decide who makes partner here, rather than the partner group themselves!
Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order)…
- At my first Christmas party as a trainee five of us went along dressed as the Spice Girls (I should add it was a fancy dress party. I was a very attractive Scary Spice).
- I have won the Dad’s race at every Sports Day at my sons’ school.
- I played rugby for Cardiff RFC (now Cardiff Blues) as a student.
In one sentence, what’s the one key thing that students should understand about your firm?
Latham gives you a career, not just a job. It might sound cheesy, but it’s true – it’s an incredibly dynamic, energetic, diverse and ambitious environment, and if you want to work on cutting edge international transactions and have an awesome career you should come and join us!
What was the oddest thing you were asked to do as a trainee?
Being asked to pick a partner up from A&E – he had been having treatment on a damaged ankle sustained while he was chasing someone who had tried to steal his car!
What’s your best friend from law school doing now?
Enjoying a very successful career as an investment banker in the City.
Editor’s postscript: We’ve just discovered that The Lawyer interviewed Kem when he was a trainee back in 1997…