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Angela Clist

Partner, Head of Managed Legal Services

I’ve been leading our Advanced Delivery legal services business since May 2019 and I absolutely love it!

I was on A&O’s global board for four years until 2018, and in that time we made two visits to Belfast and I was blown away by what the team was doing there and the quality of the people involved.

At the same time, I’m the co-head of our bank sector group and I hear so much from clients about how they want law firms to change both what they do and how they do it. They want us to be really thoughtful about how we resource matters, which is at the heart of what we are doing here.

I was born and raised in New Zealand – I moved to the UK in 1996 with the full expectation that I’d be going home after two years. I joined A&O and made partner after four years, in 2000. It truly is a meritocracy, because a Kiwi like me could make that leap; the partnership isn’t made up of just white privately educated males.

Honestly, it’s a delight to spend time with the people in Belfast. The quality is so high, and their career development is really important to me. In the last few years we have focused on developing opportunities for people in advanced delivery to move up the career ladder and access the whole suite of A&O training programmes.

We also focus on developing people’s skills through secondments, both to clients and to offices around the A&O network. Since Belfast opened, there have been over 230 secondments, which offer a fantastic learning opportunity for the team. We want to make sure people aren’t siloed and can continue to develop in the way that they want – if you want to work in both banking and litigation, that’s fine.

We’ve really grown the business in recent years and the growth of our whole advanced delivery and solutions offering is a strategic objective for the firm, driving our desire to open in Perth. We intend to hire around 20 employees in the first year, and grow to 60 in three years. Work will come from all over the Allen & Overy network – our biggest sources right now are London, Germany and New York, but this new team will be helping us support projects all across the Asia Pacific region and beyond.

We are really seeing our mandates get more sophisticated and exciting over time. When Belfast opened 10 years ago, a lot of the work was at the less complex end of document reviews and due diligence. While that’s still important, often our people are now key junior team members, helping on IBOR negotiations, complex due diligence reviews and complicated aspects of litigation, always with the necessary supervision.

The work we get involved with is compelling because people come to A&O for the most complex litigation, the most innovative banking and finance transactions, and the high-end corporate work; this is an opportunity to work on really interesting matters.

We differentiate ourselves from the rest of the firm by actually working core hours, which are 9am to 6pm in Belfast. People can do overtime, but we want them to have that bit more control of their lives, and work-life balance is important. That’s part of what creates this great culture – we’ve grown from seven to 130 people without losing that, and we want to make sure we maintain our special culture once we are in multiple locations.

The team in Perth will work really closely with Belfast but the idea is to offer our clients follow-the-sun coverage, so both the teams in Northern Ireland and Australia will work core hours without having to routinely stretch their days to accommodate other time-zones.

For me, this story is about looking externally and hearing what clients want. The most successful firm of the future will be the one that understands resourcing and delivers for clients in a more thoughtful way, embracing legal technology. That’s hugely appealing to our clients – their eyes light up when I talk to them about what we’re doing in Belfast and now in Perth.

At the same time, internally, it’s so important we give people an opportunity to have alternative fulfilling legal careers, working in jobs they like with people they like, outside of the traditional law trajectory but still with enormous value. That’s what I get a buzz out of.