Webber Wentzel and their alliance partner Linklaters offer their associates the opportunity to work temporarily for sister companies. In this mini-podcast series, Africa Legal’s Tom Pearson chats to Paula Ann Novotny about her secondment to London.
Novotny was offered a secondment to Linklaters London and says she wasn't even aware that such opportunities existed when she joined Webber Wentzel, but that the experience she gained from living and working in another country was immensely fulfilling – both professionally and personally.
During her time in London, Novotny got to develop and hone her skill set in the field of environment, social and governance (ESG) issues. She found that the way ESG factors into transactions in London and the global north were different compared to back home.
“It’s less corporate transactional-based than one would imagine. It’s evolved into a newer line of advisory work, and so it really didn’t have everything to do with the size of the transaction or the scale of the deal, but rather the different types of advice that different company types or organisations need, based also on their differing stakeholder expectations and requirements. There was much for me to learn during my time at Linklaters,” Novotny commented.
With the role of lawyers evolving, a key skill she learned was being adaptable to clients' evolving operational environments.
“We’re now expected to give a more comprehensive view on risk and opportunity. We’re almost quasi-consultants; the role of lawyers being principally or traditionally risk custodians has evolved into us also being very well-placed to identify opportunities and the different layers of risk. There are multiple risk factors, but those also spin off into opportunities, and so the way we give advice has to be commercially sensible; it has to be sustainable; it has to be adaptable. And all those kinds of skill sets and applying different worldviews and how different stakeholders that operate in different jurisdictions view similar issues or actually have their own contextualised issues, has become very important to how you actually give holistic and meaningful advice to clients,” said Novotny.
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