Mike HarrisView Biography
Why did you decide to start your legal career at Ropes & Gray?
I was invited to a networking event at the office, which was an excellent opportunity to learn about the firm and its culture. What stood out for me was the combination of high-quality work and smaller-sized teams that I didn’t feel most others firms could offer. I also discovered during my vacation scheme that the people at the firm were smart, hard-working and approachable, and the kind of people I wanted to train and work with.
How has Ropes & Gray helped you build a career as a lawyer?
I studied law at Durham University and, after a three-year break to play poker professionally, I studied the LPC and obtained my training contract at Ropes & Gray. As a trainee, I had a lot of support from the firm, and especially my supervisors, directly. Because you sit in a shared office with your supervisor, you have direct support available whenever you have a question, which is a big plus, and the small teams make it easier to ask for help when needed, as you will know everyone in your department. I have had the opportunity to carry out a one-week secondment with a client, assisting their legal and compliance team. While it was only a very short secondment, it was a great insight into the priorities and preferences of a client, and helped me understand the type of work product most clients will want to see when seeking advice. I qualified into the anti-corruption and international risk team in March 2020. As I did a seat in the practice group, I have been able to hit the ground running and am already working on some exciting and interesting cases.
Tell us about a memorable matter you’ve worked on.
I assisted on an internal anti-corruption investigation in which I flew on short notice to Africa to sit in on interviews with key members of staff at a client. It was a very high-pressure situation, but an exciting process to be a part of and a great experience that influenced my decision to qualify into the anti-corruption and international risk team.
My role on the matter included note-taking and assisting with client interviews during the site visit, producing a detailed chronology of the events in the case, organising and assessing documents produced as a result of the investigation, and assisting with drafting the investigation memo summarising the team’s findings. As well as being one of many chances to travel I have had at Ropes & Gray, I got the chance to sit in on interviews firsthand, and even ask some follow-up questions at the end of each interview. While I was primarily taking a note, this is a crucial job, as an internal investigation must be forensic, and ensuring I did not miss anything in such a high-stakes scenario was excellent experience.
Tell us about a pro bono matter you’ve worked on.
I have worked with Kids In Need of Defense UK on behalf of two clients who were applying for leave to remain in the UK for under 18s. We were fortunate enough that both of the applications were successful, despite very challenging fact patterns. Working on these applications included gathering evidence to prove our clients’ record of continuous residence in the UK, conducting research on the countries our clients risked being deported to and presenting the case that it would be unreasonable in the circumstances not to grant leave to remain. One memorable experience was visiting an embassy in London on behalf of our client to try and get answers to some questions we had.
The culture of the firm is very friendly, and everyone in the office is approachable and willing to help if you have a problem.”
How would you describe the firm’s culture?
The culture of the firm is very friendly, and everyone in the office is approachable and willing to help if you have a problem. There is a strong collegial feel between the different departments, which is a product of many of the deals we work on, having input from multiple teams.
What tips would you offer to a potential applicant?
Firstly, tailor your applications to Ropes & Gray. It is so important to show you are a good match for the firm, and it is very difficult to do that if you cannot demonstrate some understanding of the firm’s values and how it operates. My best advice for vacation schemes, open days and interviews is to be keen and inquisitive, and be confident enough to admit to what you do not know. Firms are looking for potential and do not expect the finished article, and attempting to bluff your way through questions you do not know the answer to is a quick way to talk your way out of a training contract.