It’s just not fair...
Equity essentially means fairness. Our legal system is based on these rules and this area of law gave birth to the law of trusts.
Trust law is a set of rules that have been established to regulate situations where one person places trust in another person to look after their affairs.
This includes the way that charities are run or the way that money left to somebody in a will is governed.
Why is it important? What does it involve?
Equity stretches across all areas of law. It’s an incredibly important part of the legal system, but the majority of people working in this area of law will be dealing with the various intricacies of trust law.
If you specialise in equity and trusts, you may find yourself making sure charities are correctly spending donated funds or resolving conflicts between families.
It may often involve dealing with the affairs of people who are no longer around and therefore you will need to be sensitive to the situation of your clients.
This applies whether you are a paralegal, a solicitor, a barrister or a legal clerk.
Break it down for me a little bit!
Sometimes, trust law matters can be very complicated and often items, objects or money may have changed hands several times before anyone notices a problem.
Consequently, unravelling these issues can be a complex process and you will often need to digest vast amounts of information and follow long paper trails.
Disputes often arise between partners who are looking to separate, especially regarding property.
These scenarios are at the heart of trust law and it’s not unusual for your work to be intertwined with family law or other areas of law. You will need to be versatile and able to react to changing circumstances in a constantly evolving area of law.
If you have a passion for understanding complex relationships, you are happy dealing with people often going through difficult periods in their lives, and are prepared to work long hours, then equity and trust could be for you.
Edward Richardson, Trainee Associate, Weil.
Could you give us a quick breakdown of how you spend the average day in this seat?
Provided there is nothing urgent that I need to do first thing (I check my BlackBerry on my way into work to make sure), I generally catch up with the other trainees over a coffee in the staff café when I get into the office at about 9am. It is always good to hear what other trainees are doing – often trainees in other departments will be working on different elements of the same deals that I am working on. At any one time I am typically working on several deals which may be at different stages, so I may have a call with local counsel in another jurisdiction to discuss due diligence on a deal in its early stages, followed by a meeting to prepare for completion of a deal that is about to close, and then end the day with dinner and drinks to celebrate the closing of another deal a few weeks ago.
How much do you correspond with senior colleagues and clients on a daily basis?
Every trainee shares an office with their training supervisor, who is a senior associate in the team. As a trainee, your supervisor is your first point of contact, who will set tasks, answer any questions and generally provide feedback on your work. A deal team typically consists of a partner, a senior associate, a junior associate and a trainee, so private equity trainees inevitably work closely with partners and other associates in the department. Trainees are often given the task of liaising with the client when a deal is approaching completion to ensure that the various payments that need to be made on the closing date happen smoothly – since these payments can be for several hundred million (or even billion) dollars, it is an area of considerable responsibility that requires extremely careful attention to detail.
What sort of responsibilities do you have as a trainee in private equity law? Are you tackling hands-on project work or undertaking more general research and protocol training?
Almost all the work that I have been asked to do as a private equity trainee has been hands-on deal work. Although I have carried out research tasks, these have always been relevant to a specific point on a live transaction – on one particularly memorable occasion, I was asked to research a point of law that had come up at 1am a few days before closing of a big transaction. Other trainee tasks include carrying out due diligence, drafting and negotiating ancillary documents and generally coordinating the closing process of a deal.
In just a few words, could you explain the sort of work you do in private equity law?
We advise our clients on all elements of buying and selling companies; from relatively small acquisitions of companies from individual founder shareholders, to public takeovers of major listed companies. Almost all deals involve an international element – some of the deals I have worked on during my time in the Private Equity department include advising a French fund on its acquisition of a company with subsidiaries in the UK, USA, Australia and Japan; an American fund on its acquisition of a company that owns real estate in Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Serbia; and a Canadian company on the sale of its UK and Mauritian subsidiaries. Weil has practice groups which advise on private equity fundraising, and leveraged finance to fund the deals that we advise on.
What kind of deals have you been working on so far? Do you tend to take on short-term tasks or work on longer-term projects?
I have been fortunate to work on several long-term projects that I have seen through from start (early due diligence and a competitive bidding process) to completion. As a trainee it is important to be flexible, as you are likely to be required to help on deals at all different stages during a six month rotation in the department.