Manoj Styche-Patel, our Thames Valley regional trainee partner, tells us about his career with Blake Morgan.
I am thrilled to be taking on the responsibility of supporting our trainees within our Oxford and Reading offices and wanted to share some of my experiences in my career with Blake Morgan with you.
I joined Blake Morgan soon after qualifying and have spent my career since then with the firm. I have been given many opportunities to take control of my career on my journey to becoming a Partner within the Corporate Group. I hope this will inspire you as to how you can shape your career too.
Everybody’s journey is unique and there are many ways to reach the final destination. I knew that I wanted to be a Partner and that the challenge of structuring transactions and really getting under the skin of a client’s reasoning behind them was what was driving me. I wanted to be an adviser that provided creative solutions and could look through a commercial lens in crafting my advice.
I recognised this early on in my career and decided that experience working closely with an in-house function would be the best environment for me to really understand what clients want from their legal panels. A strong technical understanding of the law was a given, but what else do clients value?
Four years after joining Blake Morgan, I was told that a key client based in London was looking for a secondee to join its in-house legal team initially to cover a six-month maternity leave. I was encouraged by the firm to apply and so I volunteered (knowing that there was some hard graft ahead!) and was fortunate enough to secure the secondment opportunity.
By chance my secondment coincided with the client embarking on a significant corporate acquisition and so my secondment was extended and I remained in the in-house team for about nine months through to the successful conclusion of the deal. The client was key to the firm, one that repeatedly instructed us, and the deal was complex and high profile. I was a Blake Morgan ambassador and felt all eyes were on me, including those of the firm’s Managing Partner.
All the time while seconded I kept my sight on some key goals – the client’s objective, the external lawyers’ approach, the technical application of the law and my own personal desire to know what could make me a better lawyer. To make sure that I was working towards these, I found it helpful to focus on some key questions:
- What does the client absolutely need to know in order to make their final decision?
- How do you translate the law into terms that a non-lawyer would fully understand?
- What was the client’s appetite for risk?
- At what point was the client willing to walk away?
- What was non-negotiable?
It was an intense period with a lot of hard work and some long hours and weekend working. (And it’s to the credit of the firm that they didn’t take this for granted – I even received a weekend break to take my family away from the firm to recognise my effort.)
During my secondment I developed my commercial awareness, and the reward was the take-away of knowing that I could apply all of this to future deals. I look back on this time and am proud to have pushed myself. The adrenalin I felt then can still hit me today, and I am grateful that I was given the chance to represent the firm in this way.
Following my secondment, I returned to Blake Morgan. I worked within the Corporate team and found both the experience I gained within the firm and on my secondment helped me to become the creative, supportive adviser I imagined being when I started out on my career. It was at that time that I began to think about partnership and have discussions about this with senior partner mentors.
Two years after returning from my secondment, I became a partner and I worked for many years across the South Coast, undertaking a number of roles including some management positions.
Later, an opportunity arose to move to our Thames Valley region to grow our corporate practice in this area. Blake Morgan works very much in a “one firm” way so I knew my new colleagues well but it was refreshing to be working more closely with them on a day to day basis. Our wide ranging client base and geographical spread are our assets, and to be able to experience them in this way has been a real bonus.
Now, as a trainee regional partner, I’m taking on an additional role mentoring and supporting trainees. For me, it’s an opportunity to get more involved in helping colleagues who are looking to find their own career path.
I feel lucky to be part of a firm which supports me in my career and offers a good “work-life balance”. The variety of opportunities which I’ve been offered over my time with Blake Morgan has meant that I’ve been able to gain rich and varied experience across a range of areas. The chance to take on different roles and new challenges means that, even though I’ve been with the firm over a number of years, it still feels fresh and interesting to me.
So my key message to you is that Blake Morgan offers a platform from which you can make choices around how you navigate your career.
I hope this gives you a snapshot into some of the opportunities that can exist and I will look forward to hopefully supporting you on your journeys.