Women of MLS: Anne-Marie Neagle

Anne-Marie is a partner in the Melbourne office of King & Wood Mallesons where she specialises in securitisation, derivatives, hybrid, debt, convertible and structured capital markets transactions, and structured finance. She studied Commerce and Law at the University of Melbourne.

1. In 2017, you were named in the Euromoney Legal Media Group Australasian Women in Business Law Awards as best in Structured Finance. Finance and law have traditionally been male-dominated professions. Did you find it difficult to get to the position that you are now as Partner and what skills helped you the most along the way?

The gender imbalance in structured finance was not something that I necessarily saw or understood when I chose my direction in law as a young graduate, but it did become more apparent to me when I had my family and started to grapple with fitting it all together. 

There were not a lot of strong female mentors to look up to in transactional finance when I was navigating this new juggle, but I was fortunate to have a number of strong male mentors. I like to think that these mentors simply saw me as a promising lawyer rather than as a woman in finance, so I tried to picture myself through that same lens as I worked towards my goals.

I think that believing that you can do something and looking past the obstacles rather than focusing on them can of itself help to make those obstacles smaller. Resilience, pragmatism as a good dose of tenacity have helped me to do this along the way. I choose to take a strong stand where an issue matters, but try to let the smaller stuff pass by. I try to find the points of connection with the people I work with and then build on those connections, rather than seeing their differences.  And I remind myself that even difficult days help us to be the people we need to be to reach our goals.    

2. How did you come to specialise in finance law and what advice do you have for students looking to pursue a career in this area?

My other degree was Commerce, with an Honours year in Finance, so I always had a strong interest in pursuing a career in commercial law. During my Honours year, I particularly enjoyed exploring both the mathematical and the behavioural aspects of financial markets and, as I finished the remaining subjects in my law degree, I was fascinated by how these concepts translated into both the documentation and regulation of those markets.

My rotations in my Articles year included M&A, tax and banking. I found that I loved the black letter law and analytical aspects of tax law, but that I also really enjoyed the sense of accomplishment in completing transactions in M&A.  In my third rotation, I found that structured finance gave me the opportunity to combine these components of practice, because as an area of law is both highly transactional and strongly analytical, and it requires you to be able to bring many complex puzzle pieces together to create a successful transaction.

My advice for anyone looking to pursue a career in this area would be to not be frightened off by the jargon and the concern that you need to have a strong background in commerce to consider finance law. Although that might be my personal history, my colleagues in finance come from a wide range of background degrees including science, arts, engineering, ancient Greek, Latin and music, and it is the diversity of these background perspectives that builds a truly successful team.   

3. What is your favourite memory of Melbourne Law School?

How much it taught me not just about the law, but about how to think.


Interview by Amy Clements

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