Magdalene Bayim-Adomako

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This was a BLD interview with Debo Nwauzu in June 2009. Read more about Magdalene Bayim-Adomako in the Directory

Our Lawyer of the Month is Magdalene Bayim-Adomako, a partner at leading global law firm White & Case LLP and co-head of its London banking team.

Magdalene graduated from Leeds University in 1987 and completed her Legal Practice Course at the College of Law, Chester, in 1988.  She joined Clifford Chance as a trainee in 1989 and stayed with the firm for five years, qualifying as a solicitor in 1991. Magdalene became a Director in-house counsel at UBS AG – one of the world’s leading financial firms – in 1996 and left to join Weil Gotshal & Manges in 1998. She has been a partner at White & Case since 2000 and became co-head of Bank Finance in the firm’s Banking and Capital Markets group in 2008.

Magdalene specialism is banking law, with expertise in advising on acquisition finance, structured receivables, and trade and commodity finance transactions.  She has represented a wide range of financial institutions, lenders and borrowers on syndicated, bilateral, secured and unsecured financings, including project finance and securitization of loan and trade receivables in a wide range of jurisdictions including Latin America, Russia and Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

She was one of The Lawyer magazine’s Hot 100 lawyers of 2008 in the finance category. The magazine said she was “one of a rising generation of female banking stars” who had impressed many over the past few years with her cool head and commitment.  She also has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusivity issues, including at White & Case.
Chambers and Partners 2008 describes Magdalene as: “Proactive and effective at leading the charge on lending transactions. Clients say she is ‘dedicated to turning a deal around rapidly’ and ‘does a sterling job.’”
Magdalene is married with two children.

Below is our interview with Magdalene.

BLD: Why did you choose a legal career?
MB-A: The inevitability of family expectation that I join a profession and medicine was never on the cards!

BLD: If you were to choose another role/profession other than law, what would it be and why?
MB-A: A teacher, if done well it is a job that can change peoples lives and that is a profound gift. 

BLD: What was the best career advice you were given?
MB-A: Not so much advice but my mother's unswerving belief that I could achieve anything I put my mind to meant my horizons were never limited.

BLD: What was the worst career advice you were given?
MB-A: None I can remember, or perhaps I have simply erased any over time!

BLD: What career advice would you give to others?
MB-A: Choose an area that interests you then aim high and be prepared for the hard work you have to put in. The legal profession has always been a competitive market and even more so now, so make sure you understand the business context of your chosen field, it is not enough to "just" know the law. Even at trainee level it is never too early to show an interest in the business of your firm’s clients or in how you can assist the business of your firm through e.g. client development activities etc. 

BLD: Who is the person you most admire (dead or alive) and why?
MB-A: I am constantly awestruck by the resilience, courage and strength of so many people in war-torn parts of the world who struggle on a daily basis to simply keep themselves and their children alive. Nelson Mandela stands out on the international stage for his personal sacrifice to end apartheid.   

BLD: What are you most passionate/happiest about?
MB-A: My children and family.  

BLD: What are your dislikes?
MB-A: Prejudice and bullying in all its myriad forms.

BLD: What was your worst moment as a lawyer?
MB-A: Fainting whilst giving a client seminar through lack of sleep the previous few days working on a closing a Turkish project financing!  

BLD: Tell us about your professional high point(s).
MB-A: Being elected a partner. 
BLD: What was the most famous/interesting case(s) you have handled to date?
MB-A: A copper receivables financing transaction for the Zambian copper mines (which, for some strange reason, involved sitting around for three days outside the Zambian Ministry of Finance trying to get finance documents signed) was really interesting as my first financing deal in Africa and allowed me to deal with very senior officials at a relatively junior stage in my career. It ignited my interest in trade finance generally.   

BLD: Any professional regrets?
MB-A: I should have taken advantage of overseas seats/secondments earlier in my career.

BLD: How do you juggle family life and a career?
MB-A: Little sleep, supportive husband and family plus forgiving friends.  

BLD: Tell us more about your family life?
MB-A: I am the elder of two children. I have two children who are five and three years old and whose social calendar is considerably more packed than mine!