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Atholl Macpherson

Associate – ICM - Derivatives & Structured Finance

What do you think sets A&O apart?

The firm’s ability, whilst being a large multinational institution, to continue to change, innovate and develop in an industry that’s often slow to adapt.

Tell us about your journey – what initially drew you to A&O?

I knew I wanted to join a firm that specialised in advising international clients on multijurisdictional issues – unfortunately almost every city firm advertises itself as such to university students. A&O stood out to me as its global approach emphasises more meaningful international integration than other firms I was considering.

How long have you been at A&O? How do you feel it has changed over the years?

Just over two years – from my perspective there has been a consistent increase in focus on social and interpersonal elements such as mental health and fostering a sustainable work-life balance as well as female, BAME and LGBTQ+ representation. Whilst there is doubtless significant progress yet to be achieved, this trend is encouraging.

How do you balance your career at A&O and your home life?

I feel that setting reasonable expectations and boundaries is important – having time to be able to switch off from work and focus on other things is something I value and have found that is generally respected.

If you could switch roles with anyone else in A&O, whose job would you want and why?

The start-ups in Fuse always have fascinating projects ongoing and trading roles with one of the developers on the first floor would be amazing (for a short time). They also have a famously good coffee machine.

What advice would you give for people considering joining A&O?

Try to reach out to contacts in the particular area(s) you’re interested in to get a flavour of the various types of work and social culture. I have found that people are almost always happy to discuss and answer questions and will otherwise make an effort to introduce further connections where needed.

What do you think you have gained both personally and professionally from your time at A&O?

Professionally – an excellent training contract programme and opportunities in a wide range of practice areas and jurisdictions.

Personally – a group of close friends and the opportunity to spend time abroad through secondments.

What extracurricular activities have you become involved in since joining A&O (Sports teams / music / pro bono etc)?

Alongside participating in pro bono projects for various London legal clinics the firm supports, last year, two trainees in my intake and I ran the Edinburgh marathon and raised money (which was matched by the firm) in support of the mental health charity, Mind.

Otherwise, a highlight of my secondment was taking part in the Hong Kong office’s dance competition as a proud member of partner Matt Bower’s “Matt Street Boys (and Girls)”.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

A completely honest answer would likely reference an alarm clock and general professional obligations, but more holistically I find myself motivated and energised by the responsibilities I have been given and the corresponding trust between colleagues to get things done.

What was your first ever job?

Stacking pipette tips and sterilising work surfaces in a research lab.

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