The interview: Lara Oyesanya

Posted in Interviews on 20 Jun 2013

Lara Oyesanya is Senior Legal Counsel in the Business Banking division of  Barclay's UK Retail Bank arm. Lara is also deeply involved in initiatives aimed at promoting diversity and social mobility in the legal profession.

What does your Twitter bio say?
I do not currently have a Twitter account.

Please tell us more about your role at Barclays?
As a Senior Legal Counsel (VP), I provide advisory, transactional, project support and management to the Business Banking division of  the UK Retail Bank. My role gives me the opportunity to understand the needs of our customers and business colleagues by working in some of the branch network offices, as well as customers' offices.

TV Burp style fight between In-House and Private Practice - who wins?
In-House every time!!

What do you enjoy most about your job?
No doubt - the camaraderie with my colleagues which creates a very interesting environment to work in. I must also mention, the use of my legal skills, knowledge and experience to provide pragmatic solutions to the challenges (legal, regulatory and business) we face in Business Banking, to provide excellent services to our customers so that they can achieve their goals in the right way, making Barclays the 'go-to' Business Bank.

What is the most challenging element of your job?
Keeping abreast of existing and regulatory changes, distilling them in a digestible format for the business and identifying legal risks with adequate plans in place.

Who's in your 'network'?
Colleagues, both professional and business, from the various industries and 100 FTSE companies that I have been fortunate to work with.

You recently took part in the Law Gazette's Roundtable on Diversity in Law - in your opinion who is going to drive change in the legal profession?
All of us! Judges, lawyers, other legal professionals, recruiters and clients, including the organisations we support.

What does the future hold for the legal profession - what will be the 'next big thing' in the industry?
I think the future is very bright for the legal profession with all the regulatory changes and new legislations, we just need to keep looking at things differently and organise ourselves in a lean and efficient manner to take on the challenges of the 21st century. With all the imminent changes in civil and criminal procedures I think alternative business structures will take off in a big way which may result in more mergers amongst law firms as well as investments from non legal organisations.

Who's been the biggest single influence or inspiration in your career and why?
My husband who encouraged me 36 years ago as an undecided 'A' Level student to give law a go! He was very persuasive that law was the most befitting profession for his future wife! He may have his regrets judging from the independent thinking and single minded lawyer that I have become!

What advice would you give to an ambitious Lawyer at the start of their career?
Do not place any limitations upon yourself and go for gold every time. If you don't get the gold it wouldn't be for lack of trying!

What has been your greatest achievement so far in life?
My family - my husband of 29 years and five children, including a set of twins who have achieved and are still achieving at the highest academic level. We are a family of potentially three lawyers, three doctors and an economist, in the hope that my twin daughters  get through Oxford unscathed to finish their law and economics degrees.

Please tell us a little bit about you - growing up, education, family, hobbies, career path...
I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and went to the University of Lagos. I was called to the Bar in 1982 and practised at the Chancery and Commercial Bar for four years. I have a masters (LL.M) in Comparative Company Law and  became a solicitor in 1993. My practice, as an associate, senior associate, senior legal counsel  and head of legal, encompasses private practice (McKinnells and Hammonds), industry (British Rail) and FTSE companies (RAC plc, HBOS plc, BAE plc and Barclays). I am an editor for Lexis Nexis' Encyclopaedia of Banking Law and a consulting editorial  board member for LexisPSL Financial Services. I am interested in healthy living and regularly run and walk long distances. My other interest lies in the development of the next generation and I am an accredited mentor. I was a former Professional Standards Director for the Commerce and Industry Group and a former Trustee of Action for Children.

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