As a banking lawyer, there is nothing more exhilarating than a big transaction completing. Everyone running from desk to board room… jumping on and off calls... will it happen, won't it happen? Each of us are exhausted, but as a team we are gearing up for one last almighty push. As a trainee, these are the moments you live for.

Transactions are a large part of being a lawyer in our banking and finance practice. These can range from managing multi-million-pound project financing deals to handling complex securitisation arrangements. This is the second seat of my traineeship - and I've found it to be a really interesting and challenging area of law.

But how have the events of the past few months impacted on that experience? Well 2020, it's fair to say, hasn’t followed the usual script. Yet despite how much the world has changed, the deals are still happening, albeit from the living room.

At the start of my traineeship, it would have been unthinkable to suggest this would be the norm. But it is – at least for now. That being the case, I thought it might be useful to share some thoughts and tips from my experiences of working on a transaction from home.

Adapting to the new normal

The conference room debrief that usually takes place the moment a new deal comes through the door has quickly been replaced with a virtual conference room. Not too dissimilar, it's a chance to figure out the mechanics of the deal, ask questions, and suss out your role and responsibilities.

After the call it's a good idea to follow up with an email, setting out the deal as you understand it, as well as what you believe your role to be. Gaining a good understanding early on is key to being proactive and managing your work independently.

Keeping in touch with colleagues

When a deal gets going, it moves quickly. Under normal circumstances, it would be easy to meet for a coffee and catch up on any movements. However, keeping up with the progress of the deal can be tricky and requires even more of a dedicated effort from home.

There is the worry, especially as a trainee, of momentarily losing track. If this does happen, don't hesitate to organise a team call. There is never not a good reason to have a spontaneous virtual catch-up.

Client communication

Another important consideration is how to communicate with the client. As a team, the goal is to interact as though everyone is sitting together in one room. Although time consuming, it's important to liaise with colleagues before going directly to the client for information. This approach helps you avoid embarrassing hiccups, like accidentally asking for the same thing twice!

Printers, PDFs and panic

In the lead-up to a deal completing, the pace and excitement noticeably pick up. This is also the time to start addressing the practical considerations such as electronic signing and home printing. It's vital to make sure that all parties know which documents need to be signed and whether a witness needs to be on hand. E-signatures have understandably become a key part of completions over the past few months and knowing the rules has never been so important. And of course, access to printing and scanning facilities can't be taken for granted now either.


Then comes the all-important phone call… when the parties agree to date the documents and take a well-earned break. You thank one another for the hard work and effort in reaching this point and breathe a sigh of relief.

Had everyone been in the office, it is likely that you would head straight across to the pub for a celebratory drink. But instead the occasion is marked with a toast via video call - still as full of adrenaline, relief and exhaustion as would be the case after any deal completing.

For lawyers managing transactions, being part of a deal from start to finish has never been so different. But remarkably, the team spirit and thrill of working together on a good deal remains… even if you do spend most of it in your slippers.

Applications for 2022 traineeships are open until Friday 28 August. 


Chris Miller

Trainee, Banking