The Crafty Show - Crafty Counsel's in-house legal podcast

Karen Kerrigan: Making The Jump From Law To Operations

January 13, 2022 Crafty Counsel Season 1 Episode 6
Karen Kerrigan: Making The Jump From Law To Operations
The Crafty Show - Crafty Counsel's in-house legal podcast
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The Crafty Show - Crafty Counsel's in-house legal podcast
Karen Kerrigan: Making The Jump From Law To Operations
Jan 13, 2022 Season 1 Episode 6
Crafty Counsel

“I think for us lawyers, sometimes giving away that title and that security and that training…and that identity that you've built all the way through…can be quite difficult.”   Karen Kerrigan, Chief Operating Officer Moneybox. 

Karen Kerrigan has managed to do something many in-house lawyers want to do, which is to move to a business role. 

 Karen is the COO at Moneybox, which is a savings and investment platform with more than 700,000 customers. 

 Prior to Moneybox, Karen was the Chief Legal Officer and then COO at Seedrs, the well-known equity crowdfunding platform. 

 She studied English at Oxford University before commencing her legal training. Karen worked in private practice at Simmons & Simmons before moving in-house. 

She talks to Ben about her career journey and transition from law to operations and what she learned along the way. 

Show Notes Transcript

“I think for us lawyers, sometimes giving away that title and that security and that training…and that identity that you've built all the way through…can be quite difficult.”   Karen Kerrigan, Chief Operating Officer Moneybox. 

Karen Kerrigan has managed to do something many in-house lawyers want to do, which is to move to a business role. 

 Karen is the COO at Moneybox, which is a savings and investment platform with more than 700,000 customers. 

 Prior to Moneybox, Karen was the Chief Legal Officer and then COO at Seedrs, the well-known equity crowdfunding platform. 

 She studied English at Oxford University before commencing her legal training. Karen worked in private practice at Simmons & Simmons before moving in-house. 

She talks to Ben about her career journey and transition from law to operations and what she learned along the way. 

The Crafty Show - Ben White and Kate Kerrigan 

Quote at the start - Karen Kerrigan:

I think for us lawyers, sometimes giving away that title and that security and that training and that identity that you've built all the way through, for some people through their academics, I didn't do it as an undergrad. But, through their academics, through their training contract, can be quite difficult. I still maintain my practising certificate. 

Ben White:

Hi everybody. So, in this episode, I'm talking with Karen Kerrigan. Karen's managed to do that thing that many in-house lawyers want to do, which is to move to a business role. So, Karen is a COO at Moneybox, which is a savings and investment platform with more than 700,000 customers. And prior to Moneybox, Karen was the Chief Legal Officer, and then COO at Seedrs, the well-known equity crowd-funding platform. So, Karen's gone from private practice legal at Simmons, to in-house lawyer, to Chief Legal Officer, and then COO. So, she's made that transition from law to operations. Really looking forward to chatting with Karen about that journey and about what she learned along the way.

Karen, thank you so much for coming on the Crafty Counsel Podcast.

Karen Kerrigan:

Thank you for having me, it's a pleasure to be here. We've known each other for a little while now, so it's good to touch base again.

Ben White:

Perfect. So, Karen, before we get into the meat of the interview, so to speak, a couple of quick-fire questions. First, are you a work from home, or a work from office person?

Karen Kerrigan:

Overall, I'd definitely go for office. So, I joined Moneybox about a year ago, so in the middle of last Winter's lockdown. It's been amazing getting back to the office, remembering how we used to work, and meeting a bunch of new colleagues as well.

Ben White:

Why do you prefer the office?

Karen Kerrigan:

I think it's just the buzz. You get things done in a way that you can't do online. Now, saying that, when we first went back into the office, I was definitely thinking I was going to be in five days a week, particularly having joined remote, getting to know people, that would be brilliant. But, I think, like everyone, I'm struggling to work out how you actually get work done while you're in the office. So, for the time being, a hybrid couple of days in, couple of days out is working. But, overall I think theoretically, I'm an office person.

Ben White:

Perfect. Okay, next question. You are obviously not practising law now, but you did. So, if you hadn't become a lawyer, what would you have become?

Karen Kerrigan:

Oh, can I say a COO? No, that's probably a trick question. Well, if I'm perfectly honest, it would probably be nothing to do with the law, nothing to do with ops, nothing to do with professional services. It would probably be something to do with being outside, being active, sport of some sort. But, that's definitely aspirational and there are a few flies in that ointment. One, is that I was never talented enough. Two, is that my body breaks quite frequently. And three, I think there's something around the need to be mentally stimulated, whether that's academically, or intellectually stimulated. And I always remember years ago, I went to Thailand and did my dive master and thought I could work there as a diving instructor for months and months on end. And I was just so into the exam taking and the studying that I think that as much as I think I would like to step away from the desk and the intellectual problem-solving, I don't think I probably could. So, long answer to your question, but yeah, something unrelated to what I'm doing now-

Ben White:

But, just a quick follow up. So, is it quite important to you to be able to exercise and do sport?

Karen Kerrigan:

Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Definitely. I'd say before I had children, I had lots of hobbies and did lots of activity and probably exercised every day. And then, it was almost a bit of a hygiene factor, it was part of the day. Now, because I get to do these things more rarely, just because you work a full-time job and you are an owner of a full-time job and you have two small children running around. It now feels like an absolute privilege, whenever I get to go for a run, or go for a swim, or whatever it is.

Ben White:

Yeah. Certainly, I can empathise with that Karen, as being the dad to three small kids, myself. Okay-

Karen Kerrigan:

How do you fit things in? In my reverse interview.

Ben White:

How do I fit things in? Poorly. A little bit of chaos every day, I suppose. Different versions of the chaos. I think, try and do some exercise, but I could be wrong. Okay. Final, quickfire question for you. Do you use emojis at work? And if so, which one is your favourite?

Karen Kerrigan:

I do use emojis at work. We are big on Slack at Moneybox, and I don't think you can use Slack successfully, without using emojis. It definitely wasn't easy for me, I remember at Seedrs when we bought in Slack. Gosh, I can't remember, six years ago, or something now. And that was a real transition for me. I remember doing a whole, I'm an ex litigator and the idea of how to solve the interpretation of emojis was just starting to become a thing. How do you interpret the hands over eyes monkey-face in a courtroom was fascinating. I did a whole training session for the team with emojis saying, I've got to be really careful. Remember the FT test, which is something you're always taught as a litigator and everyone listened intently. And at the end of the session, one of the guys came up to me and said, "But, Karen, how do we bounce her?" And I thought, "Oh gosh, how do we go from here?" But yes, I have gone through this transition. I've been in start-ups for almost nine years now. So, I've definitely gone through the transition. As to my favourite, I think it's well, probably my most used is the laughing, crying face, which I've been told by Gen Zers is terribly telling of my age, as it's terribly uncool and is not used by Gen Zers in the slightest.

Ben White:

Karen, I want to pick up something that you mentioned just now, which is that you were a litigator. And I sometimes speak with friends who are in private practice, who worry about what they will do next. And perhaps, some of them want to move in-house. And wondering if they can move from specialised areas into in-house roles. And sometimes, I've heard people say, "Don't become a litigator, because, for example, you'll never move in-house." And now here you are, you ex GC, you are COO. Maybe, we can talk a little bit about your career story and maybe you can kick us off with life at Simmons & Simmons, what you're doing there?

Karen Kerrigan:

Yes. Well, I mean like so many people, I suppose, I fell into law. It wasn't my dream of ever being a partner anywhere, but for an English grad, it was a very obvious next step. And my mom's an entrepreneur, so my friends are entrepreneurs. I wish I slightly had a niggle in the back of my head, that I would go and found my own business at some point. So, I think I approached it in a short-term timeframe, anyway. I chased a qualifying litigation, because I enjoyed it the most. I mean, I think financial litigation was literally where I got my seat, and now I look back on it. That was, I suppose, the link that now has tied my whole career together.

Lehman had just crashed. And a lot of the work that I was doing was Lehman litigation, post Lehman litigation, whether that client/ money staff, or breach of mandates. Then, I did a lot of the contentious regulatory work that came out of that. So, interest rates, swap litigation on the more retail side, or PPI. And then, on the institutional side, the last thing I did was the Libor investigation in 2013. So, I liked the subject, but it wasn't that I had intended to do that my whole life. After I'd been qualified for a few years, I started thinking about what I was going to do next. And I still had this idea that I was going to start my own business. And at the time, a couple of friends from university had founded a funding circle.

 And there was this whole big peer to peer, what is now known is peer lending going on. And I saw that there was this equivalent in equity, equity in early-stage businesses. And that was a business called Seedrs was really leading the charge on that in London. And first I thought, "Well, wouldn't that be cool as a way to fund my start-up?" If I did have an idea, or I could go and literally fund my start-up through this. And then, I saw they were advertising for a role and it was super early stage, it was at seed stage. There were just a handful of people in a room and they were looking for a legal and finance director.

And at the time I thought, "I could do this for a year. I could learn how business actually works. I could learn about raising money. I could learn about being an entrepreneur, because despite the fact that I thought that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I could have now nine years on, I realised that actually my personality type isn't one of... I'm not the light bulb person. I'm not the Eureka person. I probably am more of the executor person, but at the time I thought maybe, I could do that, and that will teach me how to do all these things. Anyway, So, I joined, I got the job as legal and financial director as it was at the time, didn't leave after a year and was there for seven years. So yeah, it was quite a journey.

Ben White:

So, I guess, you must have really grown with that business, at Seedrs. 

Karen Kerrigan:

Yeah. Yeah. And everything I think, to do with Seedrs was driven by A, circumstance, but B, just seizing opportunity. And you can do that in a start-up. If you are willing to work hard and willing to... I think I've really looked at it as an ability to acquire functions and just get on with it. Then, there are a huge amount of opportunities for you to take advantage of. And whilst, I came in as legal and financial director, and we were all directors, there were five of us and everyone was a director. And you were the director of yourself, because there was only you. But, what that really, really meant, and it's interesting you talk about lawyers going into operational positions. Is that anything that had a vague contract related to it, whether that was finance, or whether that was HR, or whether that was compliance, or whether that was building operation and so and so on, would fall into legal, because it was the most obvious thing.

 And then, obviously, Seedrs, if you don't know, for listeners that don't know, Seedrs is what was now known as an equity crowdfunding platform, but ultimately, it democratises venture capital, which fundamentally is making contractual investments in start-ups. So, you always had experience on the business side and so on. So, yeah, I just took things as they came along in the series, A. I realised I needed to build up those functions more consciously, we built an HR function, we built a finance function and so on. I wasn't quite ready at that point, to give up my legal hat, which is why I became chief legal officer. It probably took another three years, or so for me to eventually admit that I was a COO, rather than a CLO. So, that was definitely a personal journey as much as a professional journey, I think.

Ben White:

Was there any one moment when you realised now, I really need to make the transition from being a lawyer to being, well, the COO?

Karen Kerrigan:

It's a good question. And probably, the answer is no. There wasn't a point in time that I decided I was going to become a COO. There was a point in time when my CEO said to me, "I think it's time that you took on this remit more formally and we changed your title." And then, there was definitely, probably three to six month period of the only thing I can describe it as is identity crisis, a retrospective identity crisis, and we had all these conversations, my CEO and I at the time about the reasons why I couldn't work out what the remit was, what was the remit of the COO? "What should I have been doing differently, versus the CLO the day before? And it was only when I went for a walk with a friend of mine, probably three months into this identity crisis.

 And she was like, "KK. You're just doing the same stuff as you did the day before." And obviously, it is as simple as that. And hopefully, I tackle the COO role in a much more conscious way from them forward. But, I think for us lawyers, sometimes giving away that title and that security, and that training and that identity that you've built all the way through. For some people through their academics, I didn't do it as an undergrad, but through their academics, through their training contract can be quite difficult. I still maintain my practising certificate. I am actually acting GC at Moneybox, which is probably sensible to maintain. But, I definitely don’t do an awful lot of law these days. 

Ben White

It reminds me that I was speaking with a friend recently, who has given up his practising certificate. And he said that, that moment was particularly powerful that the team's legal team's PA came around and said, "I'm a bit confused. I'm doing the practising certificates again. And I don't know whether you meant to be on the list." And he said, "I don't think I am." And that was a single, very short conversation. And that person went off and that was a transition point.

Karen Kerrigan:

Gosh, yeah, it's really funny. I mean, actually, getting to Moneybox, but when I joined Moneybox a year ago, it didn't have a legal function. They were very deliberately looking for a legally focused COO to build out a legal function. So, actually, probably, in the three years before I joined Moneybox, I wasn't doing a tremendous amount of law, but actually in the last year, particularly the first six months when it was just me on the legal side, I actually really had to test those legal muscles again. I really enjoyed it, you think, once a lawyer, always a lawyer. And it was quite good, testing all those legal muscles. I have employed someone now who's far better at it than I am, which is a relief to all of us. But, yeah I think there's an identity thing going on there. And I think it's almost maybe a post trauma of your original training that you think you've earned it, therefore you cling on to it.

Ben White:

So, pulling back for a moment, just back to Seedrs. So, Karen, you transition from CLO to COO. I find that I'm increasingly, frequently meeting in-house lawyers now, who are also doing operations as part of general role, either formally informally, and for some people that is an ambition to move away from the legal title, to take on the business role like ops, so have you got any advice for people who are making that transition?

Karen Kerrigan:

I wish I had a nugget, a real nugget of advice. But, I think probably the two things that I can reflect on from my experience is A, this idea of just acquiring functions. If things come up, you are interested in and fall peripherally in your remit. Jump at them, don't draw the line around them. And I think sometimes, lawyers can be a bit hesitant to do that, because of the risk involved, because of the mission creep, because of time and so on. But, in start-ups and scale-ups, particularly once with small legal teams, you are being asked to do other things. And I think being comfortable with that and leaning into it, rather leaning away from it. First, we'll make you better as a lawyer, more that you understand the business bit, it will be as a lawyer.

The more I did finance, the better I was a lawyer, bizarrely, but also that it builds that path out of there. So, actually, when we looked at Seedrs, what our European expansion project would look like? Because I've been doing the regulatory work around it, it made sense that actually I would start looking at what headcount we need. What licenses we need and so on. So, I think just seizing it and taking opportunities when they come along, an obvious point. But, I do think, it's probably one that not all lawyers would naturally do. And then, the other thing which I think, during this transition, my retrospective acknowledgement of my identity crisis transition to COO, is this idea of being comfortable with the fact that the area is ambiguous. 

And again, I think that's really, really hard sometimes for lawyers, even lawyers that in my case have been effectively running as a COO for three years, it can be really hard for lawyers to be like, "Okay, so I'm not that thing, I'm not that thing, with a practising certificate, that there is a remit around, I could be asked to do different things. And one of the interesting things that I've noticed, is when I was a general counsel, I had this great bunch of peers and a great network. And regardless of whether a seed stage business, or a pre-IPO business, actually your team was one, or it was 50. We were all actually dealing with the same things. And I'm sure you find this in the Crafty Counsel community. You were all dealing with GDPR in 2018, you were all dealing with, with SMCR in 2019.

 You're all dealing with indemnity limits and contractual liability and international expansion, all that stuff. You're all doing the same thing, it's just at a different scale. With COOs, it's different, it's been far more challenging to build a group of useful peers, because all our remits are different. I'm definitely a legally focused COO, I cover roughly the same remit as I did at Seedrs, I don't do finance anymore, but I do customer ops, as well as people legal risk compliance and so on from a functional perspective, obviously the inevitability you get pulled in lots of, or wide different directions as well. But, there are different flavours of COO, there are some that are marketing focused, that are product focused, that are technology focused. And certainly, in the early days of being a COO, I'd meet other COOs and you'd struggle to find a common link and you'd end up inevitably talking about people, you'd end up talking about people, culture, the fact that everyone moans where the last bananas gone, that everyone moans when the bean bags are all taken and all that stuff.

 So, it was a struggle to find that community. And I think that, that is a reflection of the ambiguity that sits within the COO role.

Ben White:

Okay. Really interesting insight. We're not all about that at all, but very helpful. Okay. So, after seven years at Seedrs, you left to join Moneybox. So, tell us a little bit about what Moneybox is and why you made that move?

Karen Kerrigan:

So, Moneybox. So, we're Series C in terms of, where we are in our growth rate, where we raised, our Series C starts of 2020, just going into lockdown, which I think for the team at the time, was quite challenging. But, anyway, we are a Series C wealth management app and we're targeted at the previously underserved mass market, generally in the under 40 age bracket. And our mission is to help people achieve more with their money, through providing them with a suite of products, spanning from savings, to investing, to home-buying to retirement. And we want to make sure that people that were underserved in the wealth management sphere, now have the education and tools to deliver on their saving and investing mission. I said with Series C, but to give you a sense of the size of the business, where about 700,000, or over 700,000 customers now, and the assets and the products that I just described are about 2.5 Billion and employees wise, we're about 250.

 So, I say, we're officially in the scale-up mode, and we've grown a lot over the last year. This last year of lockdown, we've over doubled in size, which is an interesting thing, culturally, when you're coming back to the office and there were people that knew each other very well, then a whole blooming of people over lockdown. And then, that expectation when you go back into the office of A) people are not fully coming back in. So, there's a hybrid environment about it. But, also it's just not the way it was. It will never be the way it was. And even if we were in the office during that time, it would not be the way it was. So, that's a bit of insight on Moneybox, where we are as a business at the moment. 

In terms of why I made the move, it was a really, really hard decision.

It was on the family team with Seedrs. It was definitely my baby. I loved the mission of the company, funding start-ups. I adored my team, I'd hired, or been involved in hiring in some way, most people in the business. But, I had been there for seven years. And I got approached by Moneybox actually, just after I'd had my second child. And you always have a slight eye on the market to see what was going on. And it's so squarely fit within both my current skill set and also what I wanted to do next, this legally focused COO role, this functionally giving up finances, taking on more ops was something that I wanted to do. It was in the investing space, but had slightly different challenges, very different challenges, actually, it was the other end of the risk spectrum.

 We have pensions and ISAs and things like that and see there's this high risk venture capital, but there was enough regulatory, common grounds that I felt comfortable, even if there was more learning, and then size wise, I think at the point that I was approached from Moneybox seeds and Moneybox, were about the same size. So, that felt like a natural transition as well. Now, obviously Moneybox has gone through a pretty high growth journey over that last year, 18 months. But, even though I wasn't part of the Moneybox start-up story, I feel I have some empathy and common ground with the people at Moneybox, because I went through my own. So yeah, it was a hard decision. I think one that was right for me and I am still a huge cheerleader for the stuff that Seedrs is doing, but it was the right time to go.

Ben White:

Karen. So, our mission at Crafty Counsel is to bring joy, insight and connection to in-house legal professionals, this word, joy. How do you find joy in your professional life?

Karen Kerrigan:

In my professional life? Yeah, I think I love the buzz of building something and making a team, or process better and delivering on the objectives of a project. It's a real completer-finisher personality type thing, I suppose. We talked earlier about the fact that I thought that I would, maybe I still will, but certainly 10 years ago I thought I was going to be a founder of something and potentially a CEO. What I've realised over the last few years, I suppose, is I may never do that, because actually I prefer to see how the machine operates, rather than commercial driving strategy, blue sky thinking, entrepreneur-type behaviour.

And that's been quite cool to realise. And I think, for me, taking something like, legal, or finance, or ops, or people that potentially, have a reputation of being a bit reactive, potentially have a reputation of being a bit stayed and looking at them in a proactive way, in a way that, that's exciting in a way that can make change in the way that you can literally deliver on a project that you are planning, whether that's on the regulatory engagement side of things, you want to get to an end point, but whether it's on the people side, how do you build a strategy that motivates people in a particular way?

I get a real buzz out of that. Yeah, I think that brings me joy.

Ben White:

What's the biggest challenge you face in your day?

Karen Kerrigan:

In your guess, probably drawing a line between work and home. I suppose, it's the same for many of us, there's only increased over the course of lockdown. But, I love my job and I'm fortunate enough to be part of a high gross business, but there's a lot to do. And there's an exciting story to tell, but there's always a lot to do, right? And I struggle with knowing when to cool time on something, especially when you just want to keep building and making things better. My, my old CEO actually, didn't really like the idea of calling something, work life balance, he preferred work life harmony, which I think is an interesting concept. I don't know whether it's worse, or better in terms of drawing the line, because I think it definitely gives work permission to encroach on your personal life, probably even more, but these types of businesses, I think they become your personal life in a certain way. I mean, that's probably even worse for you at Crafty Counsel.

Ben White:

Yeah. I can sympathise with that idea of what life is? I've heard, heard others say that maybe, the balance thing is a little bit too binary.

Karen Kerrigan:

Absolutely. Yeah, exactly.

Ben White

Over the Summer, I found that I, once again, was promising colleagues that, "I'm going to go on holiday, but I won't check emails." And I just realized, it's not true. I am, I'm going to check the emails and I just realised that is not true, I am going to check emails. 

Karen Kerrigan:

And you want to check the emails.

Ben White:

Yeah, yeah.

Karen Kerrigan:

So say you want to check the emails, but I think this, in terms of challenge, I could definitely learn a bit about self-preservation. I'm definitely really trying. And you asked me earlier about, where do you find joy at work? I do find a lot of joy at work, but I think it's also particularly when you have children and you work really hard and you do children really hard, to try and carve out something. And my husband and I, we've had loads of hobbies, then we had children and had serious jobs. And the only thing that we've managed to cling onto, is our love of kite surfing. And so, we try to make time for that. And I'd be lying if I said we did it every weekend, but I think because it is a thing that we mutually respect but is a hobby that you don't need to maintain on a daily basis, even on a weekly basis, like if you're in a football team, or whatever, it's that for us, I think is just, it's good for individuals, and it's good for you as a couple, as well, I suppose. But, I think that for us just provides a little bit of something to aim for, whether that is the weekend, you take yourself off to the seaside and it's completely different, or you plan your holidays around it. And so, yeah, so, I think challenge is good, working hard is good, but it is definitely important to keep outside passions as well.

Ben White:

Can you think of an example of a difficult decision that you have had to make at work and that you'd be happy to share?

Karen Kerrigan:

Difficult decision? I think, probably, I suppose there are two answers to this. The first and I suppose the macro one, is leaving Seedrs. And that was definitely an active choice. That was difficult. The second, I think it wasn't a decision that I had a choice in, but it was definitely one of the hardest things I've had to do. And that was when we went into lockdown in March 2020, and like many, many other businesses we just didn't know what our future at Seedrs would be. And we had some cash in the bank, but we had no idea how this thing would affect the funding landscape. So, again, like many, many other businesses we had to take advantage of the furlough scheme and equivalent schemes for our European colleagues in other jurisdictions. And I think the hardness of having those conversations with people, was something that I really bowled over by the level of emotion that it took out of you.

I was also nine months pregnant at the time, which nurseries had just closed for our older son. So, there was all, I'm sure there was a level of difficulty that just was amplified, because of that. But yeah, that was hard. Especially, when you are an in-person person doing that all online was incredibly challenging. How do you deal with it, I suppose, how do you mitigate the challenging aspects? I think, however personal it is you just have to be prepared for every eventuality and sometimes that can feel a bit scripted in something that, is very emotional for people, but actually I think, making sure that you can answer people's questions and give them confidence that you have spent time thinking about how this affects them on a personal level, is just crucial.

Ben White:

Yeah. It sounds like it's showing the respect that you have for that person, that even if the information that you're telling them, is potentially really quite distressing, but you've thought about it and you've shown respect for them by thinking it all through and to give them as much information as you, as you can to explain what's happening.

Karen Kerrigan:

Yeah, absolutely.

Ben White:

You started at Simmons, and then legal role at Seedrs, hybrid legal and ops role, COO, now Moneybox where you said you are legally focused COO. So, you've had a foot in, foot out of the legal sector for a while. When you look at the legal sector with the benefit of that perspective, is there anything that you wish would change in legal? Anything that legal, should stop doing? Or, should start doing?

Karen Kerrigan:

I'm biased by recency and an exercise that just been going through over the course of the last couple of weeks, but NDA quibbling, which I know is a particular passion project of yours Ben. I've seen you on LinkedIn about this oneNDA process and all of that. I just think that, imagine how much collective global resource would be saved if we all agreed to run oneNDA. So, I think that's a rather specific one. The second one, I suppose, doesn't affect me at all personally, but it's something that has bothered me over the course of lockdown when I've seen other industries need to adapt to not being in the office. It's not like I necessarily have that many friends, or peers or anything like that still within the junior levels of law firms at all.

But, I've had enormous amounts of sympathy for these poor trainees and junior lawyers that aren't getting the love that they need, or the support and the training from their managing associates, or senior partners and so on. Because those industries have found it more difficult to adapt to being online. And I worry a little bit that, even as we return to hybrid working, those people won't get the right training that obviously also has an impact on the bill payers for those eventually legally qualified people who haven't had the same experience.

 But, I remember when I was a junior lawyer, and you would sometimes get called into the partner's office and you wouldn't be announced on the call, because you didn't want to give the client the impression that you'd be billing for more people, but you'd listen and you'd absorb and forget about the 2:00 AM bundling that people are doing in the parents' bedroom over lockdown. But, it's that experience that you're missing, it's the inhaling. So, yeah, I suppose it's not a specific observation on what could be done better. It's more just a reflection over the last year and the hope that the private practice legal world is looking at addressing that.

Ben White:

Okay. And then, before we wrap Karen, in this very interesting career that you've had so far, is there any lesson that you've learned along the way that you'd like to share with people listening to this?

Karen Kerrigan:

Any lessons? I suppose, there's one thing that always rings in my head, which is, the need to ask the next, why? Always ask the next why? And there may be two whys. There may be three whys. It may be four whys. And I learned this as a junior lawyer on secondment to Barclays and there was this inbox, this dreaded inbox that you used to monitor that was on rotation. Have you heard this before? Have you heard about the inbox? There'd be a business banking inbox, or retail business inbox, and anyone in the bank could submit a query to this inbox and it could be from the CEO's office, or it could be a branch manager or whatever. So, you'd have a random collection of queries coming in. And I remember once getting this query through, which says, "Can you produce this share certificate for this thing?"

I was like, "Of course I can." And I went onto PWC and I got a share certificate template, and I did the most beautiful share certificate template you possibly could. And then, I mentioned it to the lawyer that I was sitting next to. And she was like, "But, why on earth do you need the share certificate? And I was completely floored and I felt so embarrassed. And of course, I mean, who were they issuing the share's certificate from, or to, or anything like that. And so, it's a simple one, but I genuinely think back to that episode, was it 12, 13 years ago, whatever it was. And I think it drives my approach to making sure that in a conversation when you're looking at doing something, why are you doing it? But what does that mean? And what's the outcome? And I think that almost that single piece of advice has driven my approach to targeted questioning inquisition, which hopefully, makes things clear, and removes ambiguity.

Ben White:

Karen, that's a lovely point on which to wrap up. So, keep asking the why's. Karen, thank you so much for taking the time to have a chat with me for this podcast.

Karen Kerrigan:

Very welcome. Thanks for having me.

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