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A stimulating career in our Melbourne Corporate practice
Start-up energy, varied work and great team spirit

For Melbourne Senior Associates Tiffany Leach and Stephen Carlton, working in our Corporate practice has a lot in common with a start-up.

Stephen explains, "Our Corporate practice is expanding extremely fast, so there's a real energy in the team and it's exciting to be part of something that's growing. I worked in White & Case's London office for four years and when I came back to Melbourne, I was surprised to see the same level of deal activity." 

For Tiffany, the range of clients —as well as the cross-border nature of the work—is especially exciting. "As Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) lawyers, we work with clients who are at a pivotal point: buying or selling part of their business or merging with another company, for example. I enjoy working on transactions from beginning to end, alongside clients and other advisers, to close the deal. The typical deal life cycle is three to six months, so we are able to work with new clients across different jurisdictions and in different industries." 

Deep commercial understanding

Stephen points out that their work means that they really get to know a business, and gain valuable commercial understanding. "We really get 'under the bonnet' of a company. One day, we might be presenting to the board or talking to the key legal and commercial teams. The next, we could be dealing with an IT or payroll team to ensure business continuity once a deal completes." Tiffany says that this makes Corporate lawyers particularly well rounded. "We develop a really broad and transferable skill-set that's not limited to one sector or specialization. Career-wise, this means that many paths are open." 

So what does an M&A lawyer do all day? First of all, there's extensive client contact, something that graduates on the team get experience with straight away. "We're in touch with our clients constantly, so there are lots of meetings and conference calls, which can mean some juggling to find a time that works across multiple international zones," says Tiffany. "It's a fantastic place to gain international experience—we deal with so many cross-border transactions and there are also opportunities to participate in international secondments and rotations." 

Both Tiffany and Stephen enjoy the steep learning curve of getting to know a new entity or sector. Stephen explains that, "As M&A lawyers, we are exposed to businesses from around the world: This ranges from mining assets in Asia; telecommunications in Africa; technology companies in the Americas, or medical equipment manufacturers in Europe; as well as really understanding Australian company law and the compliance side of transactions." 

Access to our global network

Stephen explains that liaising with colleagues in other teams is important too. "We work closely with the projects and employment team here in Melbourne and in our Sydney offices too, especially when we are drafting the documents that form the basis of the deals. Of course, we also feel very much part of the international White & Case network and can turn to any one of our teams around the world for support, for example, on an intricate aspect of law in a specific jurisdiction."

In terms of what sorts of qualities you need to succeed in our M&A team, both agree that being adaptable, and also being a team player, is key. "Deals are time-sensitive and fast-moving. There are deadlines, lots of moving parts and competing pressures that you have to handle. We all rely on each other to pitch in and play our part," says Stephen. 

Tiffany adds that this makes for a very friendly and dynamic atmosphere. "Everyone is motivated and committed and there's a lot of mutual support. As well as contributing to the team effort, I feel that everyone is happy to help one another develop their individual skills too. It's great to be part of such a supportive team."

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