Ivo Stourton, associate

Ivo Stourton studied English at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University. He joined Slaughter and May in September 2007. Ivo qualified in September 2009 and is now working in one of our Financing groups.

How it all began

"When I was younger, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I assumed that would change as I got older. It didn’t. When I left university, all I knew was that I wanted to do something with words that would keep me solvent and engaged. I tried publishing and journalism to no avail before doing the law conversion course. So although I have fallen into law, it fulfils all the criteria I had when I graduated and I am really enjoying it."

My first day

"I joined the firm in 2007. It was, in retrospect, a very odd time to join. I had never thought when I decided to go into law that the career would put you at the centre of world events – but for the 18 months of the financial crisis, there was a sense of reading the headlines every day, and thinking "Woah, there were meetings on that in the office last night". The work was always one step ahead of the next day’s papers. It was a very exciting time to be working, particularly in Financing, but it also created a sense of frustration at not being sufficiently experienced to offer more help. It was a real spur to trying to improve my legal skills."

Qualified!

"I qualified into one of our Financing groups in September 2009. I have heard the step up from trainee to associate is bigger at Slaughter and May than elsewhere, and though I lack comparatives, I can well believe that is true. You go from being supervised in everything to being given a lot of responsibility in a fairly short space of time. The first six months were daunting but rewarding."

Secondment to Deutsche Bank

"I didn't go on secondment during my training contract. I was very pleased therefore to be given the opportunity to take a six-month placement at one of our clients, Deutsche Bank, in their London office as a mid-level associate. It was a great experience, I learned a huge amount and I made lasting friends. It’s very helpful to spend time with our clients, understanding the stresses and strains they are under. It makes you better able to deliver them a good service."

The work

"I've had extremely varied work. From debt capital markets to insolvency, structured finance to acquisition loans, derivatives to investment grade facilities and sharia – compliant financings. Our multi-specialist approach isn’t just a phrase on a leaflet, it really goes to the heart of what we do. As an associate you regularly find yourself negotiating with someone who is not only more senior than you, maybe even a partner at another firm, but also acting in their own area of specialism. It teaches you to assimilate quickly, to consult your colleagues and the resources of the firm when confronting a new area, and to think laterally, bringing sound legal principles to unfamiliar structures."

Highlights so far

"Advising ISS on the refinancing in connection with their initial public offering on the Danish stock exchange. Helping a huge, impressive multi-national come to market for a successful launch was truly exciting. The work was arduous and complicated, and I am not sure that many other firms could have delivered it (which is for me always the feeling I take from the transactions of which I am proudest). The press coverage of the launch here and in Denmark gave an extra feeling of significance to the deal."

The people

"The people at Slaughter and May come from diverse backgrounds, although they tend to share a strong academic streak. The salary structure and culture of the firm fosters cooperation over competition, which leaves scope for mutual support and friendship. On the client side, I have several long-standing clients and it’s much more fun doing a job for someone you know and like. Because we tend to represent companies rather than banks, our clients are very varied in their interests and stay in their jobs for long periods, which allows relationships to develop over time."

Work-life balance

"Initially my main concern was the hours. There are many people and pursuits I value outside work, and I was worried that this would make me temperamentally unsuited to the profession. Over the years, that worry has receded. Sometimes a string of very late nights and early mornings will happen, but it tends to be over brief periods when the adrenalin is flowing at the end of a deal. There is no 'face-time' culture here. You’re trusted to work hard, to self-report on your workload, and when you’re finished for the day you leave. Any worthwhile career is going to take a great investment of time, and if you’re efficient, the balance at Slaughter and May is about right."