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Naomi Buchanan

Senior Associate, Head of Advanced Delivery – Legal Services Team, Belfast

I’ve been in A&O’s Belfast office since it opened in 2012. I’d studied in Dublin before training with a top London law firm, but I was back working with a high street firm in Ireland when the opportunity came up. I jumped at the chance to join as a managing associate.

I remember an early trip to the London office, when one of the partners told us that the onus was on us to build our careers, but she said A&O is an entrepreneurial place so if we had an idea or an interest, the firm would always give us space to pursue it. That really resonated with me – because Belfast was a new business I’ve had the opportunity to decide for myself what areas I wanted to focus on and how I wanted to grow.

Today, I’m part of the 15-strong management team responsible for growing the Belfast business, resourcing and developing the work streams. I’m also a senior associate in banking and finance, where I work on large mandates and supervise and train the junior lawyers. And I do some of my own banking transactional work for a couple of partners in London, acting as a virtual associate in their teams. I’ve chosen my management role and carved out a mix of helping on big projects and doing my own work to keep up my technical capabilities.

Early on, I went on secondment to one of the banking teams in London and really stepped out of my comfort zone. I didn’t have much banking transactional experience and I knew it might not work out, but I seized that opportunity and loved it.

We’ve built a team of 130 people in Belfast, and we prioritise talent. Once someone has proved themselves, we really try to let them focus on the work that they’re interested in. We as a management team had that opportunity and we want to give other lawyers a blend of experiences and be as accommodating as we can possibly be.