William Samengo-Turner was interviewed by the Law Society Gazette for My Legal Life and discusses his role as a school Governor.
I studied modern history but always had an interest in commercial law. Law is an industry with people at its heart. It has given me the opportunity to work with some of the most talented people I know.
I joined A&O as a trainee in 2007. Our clients span all sectors and all stages of development – from fledgling enterprises to multinationals with thousands of employees. A day might involve a coffee with a start-up in Fuse (A&O’s new tech innovation hub) to discuss IP protection, a completion call for a multi-billion-dollar transaction and everything in between, including preparing students at Sacred Heart School in Clerkenwell, where I am a governor recruited by Governors for Schools.
A key challenge is ensuring a sensible balance between client work and life outside the firm. There are weeks when the pressure can take its toll. Creating a space outside the office which calls on very different skills is particularly helpful. My role as a school governor has helped me keep a healthy balance.
Clients have some of the most complex legal and commercial issues facing businesses around the world today. We are regularly called upon to rationalise and address problems which have no precedent and which require not only legal rigour but also considerable creative thinking.
I was particularly excited to spend a year in Silicon Valley working with Fenwick & West. This allowed me to be totally immersed in a different jurisdiction, learn how some of the world’s most innovative companies do business, build connections with amazing people and deepen my understanding of the sector. Spending a year in California wasn’t too bad either.
Outside the office, my five years as a governor at Sacred Heart has been a significant highlight. Being a small part of an institution which creates such talented and dedicated young people is an enormous privilege and has taught me a great deal. I am particularly involved with the school’s careers and university admissions processes. Helping students gain places at some of the country’s top universities has been a source of considerable pride.
An enormous part of the job requires us to quickly understand commercial and political issues facing the businesses we advise and spot potential problems before they arise. Being able to share this expertise with the wider community is vital and part of what makes the firm’s pro bono work so important.
As a school governor my experience has helped in a wide range of situations, from assisting with our transition to academy status, to negotiating commercial contracts, to leading sessions with students on business awareness. Clearly, the vast majority of work is done by Sacred Heart’s amazing staff, but it is great to feel that the I can use the skills I’ve developed with A&O to help the team.