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Being different makes you stronger: a newly qualified lawyer’s perspective

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Diversity is a positive in the City, writes Hogan Lovells associate Amma Boakye — who will be speaking at ‘How to make it as a City lawyer’ on Wednesday


Sometimes people are inclined to look at how they are different from others and worry that it makes them weaker. But my experience has been that such fears are unfounded. Diversity is a great thing which helps you bring different things to the table and, in the context of commercial law firms, add value to clients.

I did not decide on a career in law until late in my first year at university. Prior to that, I had explored both journalism and advertising and had completed work experience in both industries but found that these did not interest me as much as originally anticipated. In particular, whilst on work experience in the advertising arm of a large cosmetics company, I realised that I was much more drawn to the regulation of creative processes.

I decided to apply to vac schemes and completed two during the summer of my second year at university. Having the opportunity to see how different law firms operate helped me to make an informed decision about the type of firm at which I would like to work. At Hogan Lovells, I felt (and still feel!) that every member of staff, no matter how junior, is valued and difference is welcomed, allowing people to feel that they can truly be themselves.

The firm is also forward-thinking and has a very open and collaborative spirit – something which is harder to sense from simply flicking through graduate recruitment literature. My advice to students would therefore be to try to gain as many insights into different firms as possible — whether that’s speaking to them at law fairs, going to their open days or, ideally, doing a work experience scheme with them.

For me, the introduction to working in the City was probably eased by my three years at Cambridge University. In their own way, both are pretty fast-paced places where you are expected to deal with high amounts of pressure. This can be overwhelming to start with but presents an incredibly rewarding challenge. Both at university and work, I made the conscious decision to learn from those around me, including some of my peers who had access to opportunities that I did not growing up. This willingness to learn has today helped me grow into a better colleague and lawyer.

Five years on from my vac scheme, I am an associate in the commercial, regulatory and environment team at Hogan Lovells, working closely with clients who operate in various sectors including the media, telecoms, food and automobile industries. My daily routine can involve reviewing and drafting commercial agreements for businesses (such as endorsement contracts or general trading agreements) as well as advising clients on commercial and environmental aspects of larger corporate projects.

Much of the experience that I gained during my training contract, including my secondment to one of the firm’s clients, helped me to prepare for the responsibility that you are afforded as an associate. Hogan Lovells also provides an incredible support system at every level which means that there is always a wealth of advice into which I can tap.

I like that my job is very varied and that I am constantly challenged. Not only do both of these aspects help me to develop professionally but they mean that my job is always interesting as two days are rarely the same as each other. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to begin my career at a place that I love to work and I look forward to continuing to both learn and contribute as much as I can along the way.

Amma Boakye is an associate in Hogan Lovells’ commercial, regulatory and environment team in London. She will be speaking at ‘How to make it as a City lawyer’ on Wednesday.

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