Kayla FourieView biography
Why did you decide to start your legal career at Ropes & Gray?
I was attracted to Ropes & Gray because of its unique London offering; the London office was only a few years old when I applied, which created a dynamic, start-up feel, despite the firm as a whole being over 150 years old and therefore having many longstanding clients and a stellar global reputation. I realised that this would ensure exposure to high-quality, varied and exciting work. I was struck by how international the employees at the firm are and how young the partnership is, relative to many other firms. The trainee intake was, and still is, quite small, which I saw as a positive as it means that you are given greater responsibilities early on, there is more scope for collaboration, and you get to know people at the firm really well in a short space of time.
How has Ropes & Gray helped you build a career as a lawyer?
I studied law in Scotland, the Netherlands (on an Erasmus exchange) and Australia before applying for a training contract at Ropes & Gray. After completing the LPC, I started my training contract in September 2018 and trained in the asset management, private equity, antitrust and finance teams. Trainees sit in the same office as their supervisors and you get to know your supervisor really well in each seat. This is invaluable, as learning how to be a good solicitor includes all of the soft skills that you are exposed to by sitting with a supervisor, such as how to communicate with clients, external counsel or opposing counsel on telephone calls, what “deal breakers” are discussed between a client and their lawyer, and what discussions are had between team members on how to raise a certain issue. Now that I have qualified into the asset management team, I have been able utilize my experiences as a trainee to become a better associate.
The trainee intake is also quite small, which means that you are given greater responsibilities and get to know people at the firm really well in a short space of time.”
Tell us about a memorable matter you’ve worked on.
My most transformative matter has to be my first large transactional matter, as it provided a solid foundation for most of the work that I have done since as a trainee. The transaction concerned the acquisition of a clinical-stage gene therapy company by a global biotechnology company pursuant to a Part 26 Scheme of Arrangement. The transaction was interesting both due to its complexity, in being a “take-private,” and in the subject matter of the acquisition.
The team on this transaction was relatively lean, so I worked very closely with the senior associate on the deal. I was exposed to a wide range of work, as there was no junior associate on the matter. One of my roles was to track how the transaction was progressing and to liaise with the client and opposing counsel. The flow of email traffic was enormous, so it was a valuable skill to learn to stay on top of this. In addition, I drafted corporate authorisations, reviewed the ancillary documentation provided by specialist teams and opposing counsel, liaised with local counsel regarding local law formality requirements, and was responsible for the signing process. I also attended court and the general meeting of the target. This transaction gave me an excellent insight into the kind of work that is done at Ropes & Gray, and provided me with key tools in becoming a solicitor. The learning curve was steep, but the reward in successfully closing a transaction is immense.
Tell us about a pro bono matter you’ve worked on.
We work extensively with Lawyers without Borders, and I worked on a matter regarding producing training materials on the laws concerning sexual and gender-based violence and evidence gathering in a Sub-Saharan African country. The training was given by lawyers from the firm, amongst others, to assist and equip local prosecutors and judges in such cases.
My role was to research the relevant areas of law and to create a PowerPoint presentation that presenters could use in their training sessions. It was eye-opening to see how transferable many of the skills I have acquired in distinct areas of law can be. It was also incredibly rewarding to be able to assist people who do not have access to the same resources as us and have a real impact on the successful implementation of the rule of law. The ultimate aim, of course, was to help prosecutors ensure that justice is served in respect of gender-based violence cases, and I have been informed that the training was very well received.
The firm is non-hierarchical and adopts an open-door policy. It is also very collaborative, whether that is within teams, between departments or amongst our various offices.”
How would you describe the firm’s culture?
The firm is non-hierarchical and adopts an open-door policy. It is also very collaborative, whether that is within teams, across departments or amongst our various offices. Most of our clients are international, and so their deals and dilemmas are multijurisdictional and require input from many departments. This means that people get to know their colleagues very well at Ropes & Gray, which is particularly great when you are a junior associate or trainee and need to reach out with specific queries.
What tips would you give a potential applicant?
In order to stand out (and ensure a good fit with the firm), be yourself. This is not to say that you should not put your best foot forward; however, when answering questions in an application or at an interview, always give examples of “how” or “why.” Anyone can say that they are a good team player or have commercial awareness; it is how you back these statements up that is most important.