Sophie Webb

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Commercial Banking & Credit
Job title: Financial Crimes Counsel
Subject of study: Law with International Study
Year of graduation: 2015
Type/Level of study: Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name

MUFG

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

Following graduation from Exeter in 2015, I joined JP Morgan Chase, focusing on anti-money laundering compliance. I spent a year there, before accepting an offer and scholarship from Brooklyn Law School in New York to pursue my Masters in U.S. Law. During my time at Exeter, I was fortunate enough to be selected to participate in the International Study program to study in the U.S. for one year, so my appetite had already been whet! It was also during my year abroad that I became very interested in the financial crimes space, which was the focus of my dissertation upon return to Exeter. The U.S. is generally regarded as one of the most aggressive in terms of financial crimes enforcement, so I was excited to continue my studies in New York.  At Brooklyn Law School I took classes that were intended to further my opportunities and highlight my interest in financial crimes and, during my second semester, I undertook an internship at Thomson Reuters with the Enterprise Compliance Counsel, working mostly on anti-bribery matters. I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Brooklyn Law School and passed the New York bar exam in 2017 on my first attempt.  Shortly thereafter started at MUFG in a role that was more on the compliance side. In early 2019, I was internally seconded to the legal department to assist with financial crimes legal matters, and I ultimately joined as a dedicated financial crimes lawyer earlier this year. My work focuses on providing legal advice related to anti-money laundering, economic sanctions and trade controls, and anti-bribery compliance.

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

I knew in secondary school that I was very interested in pursuing a legal career, although my initial aspirations were in criminal law. During my time at Exeter, I also discovered an interest in corporate-related law through some of my elective modules. I find my current role to be the perfect blend of both! I love the challenge of working through complex issues and, although my practice area is financial crimes, my particular role affords me the opportunity to work on a diverse array of matters and frequently collaborate with other in-house lawyers that specialize in other, often completely distinct, areas of law to reach strategic solutions for the Bank.

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

I loved that so many of my lecturers went above and beyond to support and encourage students to achieve their very best. One of the highlights of my programme was being selected for the Mooting Committee and representing the University at a national level. I remember one competition in particular, where I travelled to London to represent the University as a second-year student arguing against BPTC students, in front of a local Crown Court judge – all with a broken arm!

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

Hands down, without a doubt, the people. I made lifelong friends while studying at Exeter and there is no doubt that those friends are what made the University experience as amazing as it was!

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

It’s well known that Exeter is a very prestigious institution, so there is no doubt that the University’s reputation was a big selling point. In addition to that, I was very interested in the study abroad programmes offered as part of the LLB, something that wasn’t offered at a lot of other, similarly ranked universities at the time. I was impressed by the facilities and campuses when I visited – my year had the unique (and, in my opinion, advantageous) opportunity to split the program between the main Streatham campus and the Penryn campus in Cornwall, both of which are fantastic locations albeit very different.

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

If it hadn’t been for the experience of the International Study program, I certainly don’t imagine being where I am today! I think, generally, it’s been important for me to be detail-oriented, analytical, and to develop and maintain a strong sense of commercial awareness. Studying at Exeter helped me to develop all of these skills.

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

Stay motivated and determined, but above all, be flexible. My path has been unconventional, but someone once told me it’s about where you’re going, not how you get there, which really resonated with me. I think it’s a great way to look at your career throughout its entirety, but especially so in the early stages.

 

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