The role of a banking and finance lawyer

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Pearl Rabali is a Banking & Finance Lawyer in Private Practice. We spoke to her about what her job is really like.

Here are some realistic expectations to consider before accepting an in-house corporate counsel position.  

What skills are important?

Drafting skills, communication skills and an understanding of global commercial issues.

What made you get into the legal industry?

I wanted to be a politician and since every politician is a lawyer so I went into law. Once I completed my degree I had to qualify and after being exposed to the banking & finance department, I have never looked back.

What stay in private practice rather than move in-house?

I think every lawyer should stay in private practice long enough to get a broad range of exposure to different types of work and in my case transactions.  Private practice gives a lawyer an exceptional opportunity to gain an understanding of how the different lenders and companies operate.

You are quickly exposed to a lot more variety than you would be if you worked for a company or a bank after qualifying. I also believe you are more valuable to any institution or company if you can show exposure to a broad range of work and have a few years under your belt.

I think every lawyer should stay in private practice long enough to get a broad range of exposure to different types of work and in my case transactions.  Private practice gives a lawyer an exceptional opportunity to gain an understanding of how the different lenders and companies operate.

What advice would you give a newly-qualified lawyer looking to enter private practice? 

It is important to find a good firm that can provide a wide range of transactions/cases to help you grow as a lawyer. It is also very important to work with well-respected lawyers in the legal industry as all great deals will in all likelihood end up on their desks and you can get good training to help you in the future as a lawyer.

Never underestimate finding a job in a good firm. 

What advice would you give to someone looking to move from another industry into law? 

I would tell them to prepare themselves for a lot of constant hard work since law is very demanding and requires constant up-skilling whether it be in terms of drafting skills or understanding a financing structure in the market, you always have to keep up-to-date with what is going in the financial sector, stay ahead of competitors as well as keep on top of legislation and case law.

It can be a lot of work but very exciting at the same time as you will never be bored.

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For more career advice please contact:

Nic Sephton-Poultney, Country Manager (South Africa)
nic.sephton-poultney@robertwalters.com
+27 (0) 11 881 2414

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