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A day in the life of…
Lawyer at Allens
Sarah Nega studied a Bachelor of Commerce (2014) and Juris Doctor (2018) at the University of Melbourne and is now a Lawyer at Allens.
I wake up at about this time every morning unless I've got to be in at work early for some reason. I'm not a morning person on the best of days, so it's always a bit of a blur running through my morning routine (shower, dress, style and a quick breakfast).
Fortunately, I'm not the only non-morning person in my team so I tend to roll in any time before 9:30am. My team is the Banking and Finance (BaF) practice group. Everyone tends to come in and get their day started at whatever time suits them. Aside from a couple of team members who regularly work on deals with US law firms (and, therefore, like to come in earlier to catch the US banking lawyers at the end of their day), we're all pretty much easing into our days after 9:15ish.
Since everyone in the team tends to ease into their days, the morning is a great time to either get ahead of your day and finish up any work that could’ve carried over from the previous day, or to clear out your inbox and file away all the emails. In BaF we tend to work across several transactions (which we refer to as matters) at any one time, so filing your emails is a great way to make it relatively easy to search for something specific to a matter.
I usually go for a coffee/tea with the other grads in my team about mid-morning. Depending on how busy we are, we’ll either have a quick catch-up in the kitchen on our floor, which is set up with a coffee machine and plenty of open spaces to sit down and chat, or we’ll head to a nearby café. There are so many great cafés close to our office so we’re pretty spoilt for choice.
Caffeinated and ready to face the day, I answer any internal emails I’ve received and prepare some emails to run past an associate I’m working with regarding external correspondence with clients and lawyers on the other side of matters I’m assisting with.
I speak with a Senior Associate in the team to get instructions on a matter. She gives me some background on the matter to provide context to the work I’ll be assisting with, as well as instructions about the documentation she’d like my assistance with. In this instance, I’m helping put together some security documents for an asset finance transaction. We’re acting for a syndicate of banks, so we’re preparing the first drafts of the documents recording the security the banks will take generally over all the assets of the borrower, and some specific security over shares in a company which is wholly owned by the borrower.
In most BaF transactions we prepare a checklist to manage all the requirements necessary for the deal to close, and the financing to be provided (referred to as 'conditions precedent'). I spend the next hour updating a conditions precedent checklist (aka CP Checklist) for a project finance transaction I’m assisting with. We’re also acting for the banks financing this project on this matter. This deal involves a borrower with assets in many jurisdictions, so we’re working with our Linklaters colleagues in Hong Kong, Singapore and New York to prepare the necessary documents and remaining conditions precedent. Our role in the transaction involves quite a bit of legal project management, so we have routine CP calls about once a week. The next call is set for 3pm this afternoon so I shoot the updated checklist to the Associate on the matter for her to review ahead of circulating it before the call.
I prepare some more responses to emails that have come in throughout the course of the morning and make a quick trip to the kitchen for a tea.
Our team runs training sessions for junior lawyers up to three times a week. The training usually runs over lunch, so they’re catered. These sessions are attended by the two other grads in my team, as well as the two first year lawyers rotating through the group with us. We usually have our training in a meeting room on our floor, which is set up with a video conference so that we can dial into the training session run by a senior lawyer from the Sydney office. We’re also joined by the juniors in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane.
Depending on how busy my day is looking, I try to fit in some time to step out of the office after training and grab some sun and fresh air, and maybe catch up with one or two grads in other teams.
Following the instructions I received this morning, I get stuck right into putting together first drafts of one of the security documents to see if I have any immediate questions to clarify and to get a draft up and running that I can refine later. We have some pro forma documents (which we refer to as precedents) to work from, so I spend the better part of the next hour plugging away at this document and answering any emails that come in.
We have our scheduled CP call at 3. The Partner, Managing Associate, Associate and myself are all sitting on the call. We dial into the conference call with the client bank, the borrower, the borrower’s lawyers and the lawyers in Singapore and Hong Kong assisting us with the overseas-governed documentation. We spend the next hour running through the CP Checklist and providing further updates on each CP.
Following the call, the Associate and I catch up for a quick de-brief and discuss next steps. To make sure everyone is on the same page, I prepare another update to the CP Checklist for her review so that we can circulate the updated version to everyone on the deal, which we then send out.
I return to the security documents I started earlier today and run any questions I have by the Senior Associate who instructed me. Once I’m done I put together an email and attach the documents (marked up in comparison mode against our pro forma documents) for her to review.
To round out the type of transactions I’m assisting with, I’m on a property finance matter that is set to close at the end of the week. This property finance transaction has a scheduled physical settlement, which I’ll be attending on behalf of our client (who is providing finance to the borrower as an incoming mortgagee on the property). On these deals, we have a settlement checklist to manage any documents we’re required to sight or take with us at settlement. I spend the next hour preparing updates to this checklist, responding to emails on this matter and generally making sure everything’s on track. Before stopping for the day I check in with the Associate and Managing Associate on this matter to see if there’s anything they wanted actioned on this tonight or tomorrow morning.
I’ve recently begun attending salsa classes in the CBD, so it's reasonably close to the office. I’m not a huge gym person, so I prefer to give classes or group sports a go to get in some regular exercise. They run the same classes twice a week. Since I’ve finished in time to make this one, I make my way over to the class.
I head home from the city and, if there’s not already something prepared, I put something together for dinner.
I get my nightly routine out of the way and unwind by catching an hour of my latest Netflix obsession and go to sleep.
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