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My Story So Far-Nana-Gyasi Kessie, Corporate M&A Attorney

 

Nana-Gyasi Kessie is an associate in our Corporate M&A Practice in New York. He tells us about his career journey so far, and what advice he has for current law students considering how to make the best possible transition from law classroom to full-time associate.

I was looking for a truly international firm—and I found one. I grew up in Ghana and have lived in London and in the US. I didn't want to work for a firm where I would be limited to working in just one part of the world. My experience as a summer associate at White & Case confirmed for me that this was a firm where both the work and the people are 100 percent international.

Law school doesn't teach you to be a lawyer. It teaches you to think like one. But as soon as you're actually doing the job, including as a summer associate, you become a lawyer. You might be in at the deep end, but you begin to see how it all works, how everyone interacts and depends on each other. Teamwork, in other words.

Ultimately, people are what matter. If you're not working with people that you like, that you can learn from, maybe share a meal with at the end of a busy deal, then ultimately you're never going to be happy in your job. The work first drew me to White & Case, but it's the people that make my overall experience really enjoyable. 

The Firm's network is an incredible way to build your knowledge. As lawyers, we are always learning. Every deal, every day, there's something new. When a client comes to me with a question, I can pick up the phone to literally any White & Case lawyer in the world to get the best advice for them. That means I am always building my own skills and professional knowledge too.

This is a firm where you will feel at home. Whenever I am talking to students or summer associates, the first thing I say to them is that you will find your people at White & Case. No matter what your interests or your background or your story, you'll make friends here. You'll find people you can learn from and grow with too.

Diversity of thought is something that I have come to value. When you bring together people from different countries, with different points of view and different cultures, you get a really rich diversity of experience. That means lots of different points of view and approaches. I find it stimulating and energizing.

It's up to you to identify your strengths. Everyone has areas to work on and develop. But you should also acknowledge and celebrate your strengths. So if you make it as far as the interview stage here, you should be prepared to talk about what you have done, what your accomplishments are and where your talents lie.

Recognize the importance of your role. From your first day here, you'll be made aware of how your work is contributing to the big picture. You learn that everyone, from the partner to the most junior team member, has a part to play. It really makes you feel like you're all working together for a common goal.

Stay uncomfortable; be curious. Ask for responsibility and say yes to opportunities. Especially as a junior, volunteer for work that seems outside your comfort zone. That's how you learn and develop. And remember, everyone you are working with was in your shoes once.

 

 

See this article and more on the Vault Law blog.