Ankita Singh is an experienced corporate lawyer at Gilbert + Tobin specialising in public and private mergers and acquisitions. She has a keen interest in providing strategic and tailored advice to her clients and helping them navigate the complexities of law. Singh discusses her career so far and provides advice for emerging lawyers.
Why did you choose to study law?
I chose to study law because I enjoy problem solving. At school I did Legal Studies and thought this would be a great avenue for me to be help people understand the law and come up with practical solutions to their problems. That triggered my interest as well as understanding that the law is not black and white. There are so many ways that it can be interpreted and used. I love that you can come up with solutions for different people under the same framework.
How did you decide what area to specialise in?
I am currently specialising in corporate mergers and acquisitions (M&A), so I do a mix of public and private M&A. Prior to becoming a lawyer I worked as an auditor for two and a half years. My background in audit and accounting gave me a good understanding of how companies operate so that drew me towards corporate law. While I was a junior lawyer, I did a variety of corporate law work including M&A, financial services, and projects. Experiencing as many different areas as I could helped me determine what areas I liked and didn’t like. I also spoke to various people in my team and learned about their experiences. I found observing the type of work a senior lawyer does gave me an insight into what my future might look like.
How did you navigate the shift from university to full time work?
Moving into work is a significant change. Luckily for me, I was working full time while at university, so I didn’t find the shift too overwhelming. There’s a lot of new knowledge and skills you’re learning every day. I just tried to soak everything up, remain curious, ask questions, and delve deeper into things I found interesting. I asked a lot of questions and built genuine relationships. I found that very helpful in the beginning stages so I could really understand how people work. Getting to know your team makes the quality of your work better.
What do you do when you don’t know the answer to something?
I like to sit and think about it. If I don’t know the answer, I think about what I do know and try to set out parameters. I brainstorm potential ideas and solutions that might work before reaching out for feedback. We work with very experienced lawyers and the chances are people come across very similar issues for other deals, but I like to have that level of preparedness where I’ve thought about the issue myself and have an idea or proposal to put forward. I back myself to a certain extent, but also don’t feel pressure to always know the answer.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Sometimes I find when you’re working on M&A deals you can get a little pigeonholed. It’s challenging to maintain a broader understanding of everything that’s happening in the world such as the market, financial industry and remaining up to date on policies. It might not directly affect the work that you’re doing or the matter you’re on but having a good general knowledge is important. It helps you understand the issues better and have a more holistic approach to being a lawyer. Clients really want you to understand the issue at hand, not just what the legal issue is.
Do you have any advice for newly admitted lawyers?
First, make sure you’re working in an area you genuinely find interesting. Second, surround yourself with supportive people. Your colleagues help you develop not just as a lawyer but also as a person. You might be doing interesting work but if you’re not surrounded by supportive people, it can be hard. I’ve been very fortunate to have a good working relationship with my colleagues and the partner I work for. I would encourage young lawyers entering the profession to place importance on building those relationships and working in a team where you feel comfortable and can be yourself.