Karen Kerrigan is Chief Legal Officer of Seedrs, Europe’s first regulated and leading equity-only crowdfunding platform. Before joining Seedrs, Karen worked at Simmons & Simmons in the Financial Markets Litigation and Contentious Regulatory Team.At Seedrs she works as in house counsel heading up the legal, financial, compliance and administrative functions. We speak to Karen about her role as Chief Legal Officer.
What made you want to convert your humanities degree to law?
I read English because I loved literature, but I was never going to do one of the ‘typical’ English degree careers like writing or publishing – I’m not patient or creative enough. The law had always been interest to me, having done my first work experience aged 15 in a legal aid firm and getting a huge amount of exposure. So taking a law postgrad seemed the obvious next step.
Where did you begin your legal career?
Simmons & Simmons: training contract in London and Abu Dhabi; qualified into financial markets litigation/contentious regulatory team.
What made you decide to move in house?
I didn’t just want to move ‘in house’. At the time I left Simmons I was thinking about quitting the law entirely and starting my own business. I started looking at potential fundraising options, which was when I discovered Seedrs. When I saw the job advertised on Escape the City a few months later, I thought I’d apply. It is now 4 years later…
Can you tell us a bit about the organisation?
I knew some people that were already in the alternative finance “space” and, particularly having spent most of my time in private practice dealing with financial crisis fallouts, I’d started to lose faith in “old-world” financial services. I’ve also always been drawn to the world of entrepreneurship, and seen first hand the challenges of funding (my mother and many of my friends are entrepreneurs). Seedrs addressed the funding gap with a new wave fintech solution, which fascinated me.
How does the your work as in house counsel at Seedrs differ to that of private practice?
As Chief Legal Officer, I don’t just provide the business with legal advice. I sit on the Executive Committee and lead the business operations team, which includes not only law, but also compliance, finance, audit and HR. This means my role in hugely diverse, which I love. But also extremely demanding, with responsibilities in a variety different areas.
What are your top tips for anyone considering in house counsel work?
Choose carefully, and think about what you want. Not all in house roles are equal. I work far harder than I ever did in private practice (and I worked hard there) – but it is infinitely more rewarding. And network. Unlike private practice, there is no pre-determined career path; you’ve got to make your own destiny.
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