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The First Five Years: Gabriel Onagoruwa
London associate Gabriel reflects on his early career

Gabriel Onagoruwa is an associate in our London Project Development and Finance practice. He reflects on his first five years as a lawyer and the decisions that have shaped his career.

Keep an open mind about where your interests may lie
I was keen to keep an open mind on the choice of my area of qualification, but the exposure I had to certain clients, geography and industry helped confirm my choice. I have always been interested in development in Africa.

The Project Development and Finance practice allows me to harness this interest and get further involved in what I am passionate about, whether that's directly through transactions, or indirectly through business development and cultivating new relationships on the continent.

What 'truly global' really means
This is a truly global Firm that encourages and rewards hard work and an entrepreneurial spirit. The opportunities to travel are plentiful, and secondments are something the Firm encourages.

My work has included an overseas seat as a trainee in the Abu Dhabi office, working on transactions across more than a dozen jurisdictions or—my personal favourite—working on diverse matters with tangible benefit across various jurisdictions in Africa.

Small tasks are an important part of a bigger picture
I've learnt how even a seemingly small task that you may be assigned is part of a bigger picture of a deal or transaction. This means it is imperative for lawyers at all levels to thoroughly understand the context behind the task.

Take advantage of the 'open door' policy
Knowing that you're able to address any concerns you have with a member of your team and that everyone will work together to find a workable solution is both encouraging and reassuring.

The Firm has worked hard to cultivate an environment whereby trainees, junior lawyers and even senior members of the team work cohesively; there's a real sense of teamwork.

Make sure you're clear on what you need to do
Ask clarification questions, ascertain the scope and objectives of assigned tasks, and manage expectations. It's also important to document and confirm oral discussions and instructions in writing.

Know that your work can have a positive impact on people's lives  
The highlight of my working life is the repeated opportunity to undertake and complete life changing and economy-transforming transactions, especially in industries and areas where the project or transaction would have a direct impact on the standard of life of the locals. 

Diversity matters to the Firm and to our clients
I am a member of the Firm's Black Affinity Network, and I participate actively in the programmes organised by the group. The Firm has increased its knowledge and actively pursues diversity at all levels. As previously mentioned, much of my work is Africa-focused and our clients also want to see that there is a reflection of diversity in our teams too. 

Embrace the trainee learning curve
There were so many opportunities to increase my knowledge, refine my technical skills, as well as improve the soft skills that are necessary for an office environment. I particularly focused on developing my competencies and building up my contacts. 

You get everything you need to become a well-rounded lawyer who can help clients achieve the best possible legal and commercial outcomes.  This Firm is an amazing platform for a lawyer to make an impact.

What the next five years have in store…
My plan is to maximise the platform that the Firm offers, continue to work hard and provide a great service to our clients—and enjoy the ride!

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