Ryan Donnelly

"For junior lawyers it gives you the opportunity to take control of your career and future a lot earlier than you might have thought possible."

My switch to legal consulting came relatively early in my career. I had three years’ post-qualified experience gained in leading international law firms in London, with experience advising on cross-border M&A and private equity transactions, as well as complex corporate and financial restructures. I’d reached a point where I felt more technically competent and confident in what I was doing but I also wanted a way to gain more flexibility and control over my working life, without sacrificing quality roles.

So far, consulting is proving a fantastic path to exploring that. The assignments Peerpoint offers are with top-tier firms, so I’ve been able to continue working at a high level as a lawyer but with far greater autonomy in terms of what I take on.

As I’m not locked permanently into any one environment, I’ve been able to gain experience in different sectors and enhance my skillsets as I progress. For example, a recent placement saw me working in-house as part of a data privacy team. I was handling high-value commercial contracts, drafting templates – some from scratch – and working closely with technical experts who valued my legal advice. It was a terrific experience and I learned so much.

Working more flexibly also means I can explore opportunities outside the traditional law firm model. For instance, I’m very interested in ethical artificial intelligence (AI) and want to help ensure that this incredible technology can be used for good. That’s led to me co-founding a technology company. Our software platform offers technical documentation and governance controls that enterprises can apply to their AI systems, helping them manage and minimize any associated risks.

The Peerpoint team has been really helpful. They’re quick to offer support whenever I’ve needed it, including offering me an Allen & Overy partner contact. I’ve also been impressed by how carefully they’ve sought to match me with the right opportunities. They know I’m fascinated by technology, so I’ve been offered quite a few exciting assignments with a tech slant – anything from cryptocurrency to enterprise AI, which is obviously right up my street.

I’d recommend consulting to anyone, it’s allowed me to add more variety to my career while rebalancing my working life. It’s really been a great fit for me at this stage of my career.    

A&O Shearman was formed on 1 May 2024 by the combination of Shearman & Sterling LLP and Allen & Overy LLP and their respective affiliates (the legacy firms). This consultant profile may include reference to roles/assignments generated by one or more of the legacy firms rather than A&O Shearman.