The Anatomy of a Deal: Allen & Overy

The Anatomy of a DealThis is quite an old piece of work now but I’m still really proud of it and it’s been viewed nearly 40,000 times. Stats aside, the fact that it is still live on both You Tube and the client’s website after more than six years is testament to its effectiveness as a piece of communication. So, what’s it about and why was it needed? It’s about what corporate lawyers do and it was needed because students, even law students in many cases, don’t really know and therefore don’t know how to make sense of the messages thrown at them by firms eager to recruit the brightest among them.

Broadly speaking, law firms – the big ones at least – all do the pretty much same things.  On top of that, a lot of what they talk about sounds as if it should be done by a bank. Everyone talks about getting the deal done and getting the deal ‘over the line’ but what does that mean – what does it take to get the deal done and what are the lawyers doing?

How can potential trainee lawyers understand and differentiate between law firms when the claims they make are so opaque? For years, research had shown that high-calibre students – including those studying law – don’t really understand what corporate lawyers do. Instead, they just knew that bright, ambitious graduates go into law and then decided whether that was the crowd they wanted to run with. Increasingly however, law firms are looking for people who aren’t just smart, but who are also commercially switched on.

Allen & Overy, as one of the largest, most successful and most popular firms was in a good position to help students make an informed decision about whether law was right for them, to enhance its reputation among potential hires by doing so, and ensure that applicants knew what they were getting in to. As part of a creative team, I pitched the idea of an animated film to the firm’s graduate recruitment team and then we made it work.

I developed a storyboard and a script, working alongside a couple of partners at the firm to synthesise a case study transaction. But, it was only when, late one night,  I was still wrestling with the flow of the story that I had one of those light bulb moments and realised that the whole thing hinged on a single word – contracts. Watch the animation, you’ll see it. The film went on to win an award from SoMe and is still shown at presentations to graduates.