Emma Nendick

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Law
Job title: Senior Director, Practical Law
Subject of study: Law
Year of graduation: 1989
Type/Level of study: Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name

Thomson Reuters

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

I left Exeter in 1989 and went to Chester College of Law to do Law Society Finals (89-90), where I met my future husband. After 6 months travelling in the US and Australia, I started my training contract at City Law firm Freshfields in 1991. When I qualified as a solicitor in 1993, I joined the Tax department and spent 3 years advising on corporate tax. It was hard work at times, but I learned a huge amount from some of the UK’s leading tax lawyers and worked on high profile and interesting transactions. In 1996, I moved away from fee-earning work and became a professional support lawyer at another leading City law firm, Herbert Smith. My role was to keep the tax department up-to-date on changes in tax law and practice through written bulletins and training sessions, write standard tax guidance notes and precedent documents for common transactions, write tax bulletins for clients and arrange and deliver talks for clients. I spent 10 years at Herbert Smith, during which I had my 3 children. In 2006, I joined Practical Law, the leading online knowhow provider for lawyers. I set up Practical Law Tax, aimed at business tax lawyers, and led the tax team for 12 years. Practical Law was acquired by Thomson Reuters in 2013. In 2018, I moved into my current role of Senior Director, Practical Law. I have responsibility for certain content areas (Tax, Property, Private Client, Share Schemes). I also lead a team of legal document automation specialists and work closely with colleagues in the US on budgets, content planning and people resourcing needs.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

I chose to study law because I wanted a change from my A level subjects and my father wanted me to take a degree that would lead to a job! When I became a solicitor, I found that I enjoyed the technical side of the law, i.e. analysing the law and writing about it, more than the negotiating and project management aspects. So moving into a knowhow role within a law firm (professional support) and then into legal publishing was a natural progression. In my current role, most of my time is spent managing people, and on planning and budgeting. Whilst I miss writing sometimes, I still relish the challenge of mastering new tasks in a busy corporate environment. And good writing skills are always useful – very handy when I am making my argument in all kinds of work contexts!

Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?

Out of doors society, Anti-apartheid society.

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

My year abroad, studying French law at the university of Aix-Marseille in Aix-en-Provence. It was a massive culture change, and a great opportunity to make new friends, explore the south of France and become fluent in French.

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

It was the first time in my life that I felt that I fitted in. I made some wonderful friends and had a great social life. I also loved the independence of living away from home.

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

The LLB (European) course was the biggest draw. It was an unusual course at the time and was exactly what I wanted, as it enabled me to learn a new subject and also make use of my French. When I got off the train at St Davids station and walked up to the campus for my interview, I fell in love with the beautiful location and knew for certain that I wanted to go to Exeter!

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

Studying law taught me the importance of thoroughness and accuracy. I also developed the ability to read and evaluate a lot of information quickly, and marshal the arguments for and against a point. Working in law firms helped me to develop resilience (long hours, quick turnaround of work, standing your ground) and communication skills. Working in a corporate environment has helped me become more pragmatic and focus on finding practical solutions, rather than “winning the argument”. I have learned to stay calm under pressure and to praise people for good work as well as pointing out where improvement is needed.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

Try as many different aspects of the law as you can, to find the angle that appeals to you. Take a wide range of options. Do work placements in different types of organisations and experience different types of law. You can work with the law in different ways – at university, law felt as if it was all about mooting, which I hated. But I had the chance to do some legal translation work during my training contract, which I loved as it involved language and writing. If you are logical and detail-oriented, you could think about going into legal document automation or another aspect of legal software, such as using AI for contract or query analysis.

What are your plans for the future?

The law and the legal market place change so quickly that it’s hard to make specific plans. I’m pretty confident that my job will evolve in the next few years and that suits me very well.

 

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