Alumnus: Paul Strecker
After studying Zoology at St Peter’s College, Paul read law at NYU Law School in New York and then joined Shearman & Sterling in the Mergers & Acquisitions Group.
I had a nomadic childhood, living in the U.K., Nigeria and France, before we settled in Texas and I attended school in England. After Oxford, I read law at NYU Law School in New York and then joined Shearman & Sterling in the Mergers & Acquisitions Group. Over the past 20 years I have continued my itinerant ways and worked in the New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong and London offices of Shearman & Sterling.
What attracted you to a career in Law?
I was intrigued by legal advocacy. Law draws on many different skillsets and being an effective advocate was a career that seemed both very challenging and rewarding. I can honestly say that in more than two decades of practising law, I have never been bored!
In a practical sense, how has a non-law background helped you succeed?
I knew before I began my journey in law that it was going to be hard work and all consuming. I was very interested in the natural world and the opportunity to read zoology at Oxford was compelling. I spent a GAP year and three incredible years at Oxford immersing myself in this discipline, including going on expeditions and working with wildlife around the world. These experiences were unique and personally very rewarding and they allowed me to immerse myself in law without being distracted by other interests or having regrets about missing out.
What advice would you give to non-law students attracted to a career in law?
Law is diverse and there are many paths to a career in law. Some of the most successful lawyers I know pursued other interests or careers before law. Those experiences gave them skills and perspectives that make them better lawyers and they are often more interesting as people. Law is also increasingly specialised, requiring people to have cross-disciplines. My advice would be to choose a path that weaves in these other interests, rather than just seeing law as the sole destination.
What success stories/achievements have you had in your role?
I was fortunate enough to join the M&A group at Shearman & Sterling after law school and it has been my sole career. Being part of a global team of talented lawyers working on interesting transactions has been really fun. I was proud to make partner and to take on leadership roles in the firm, but working with clients who value your advice and helping them on successful transactions has been one of the greatest rewards.
What has been the biggest challenge in your career to date?
As a young partner I was expected to build my own business. This was very challenging and I made many mistakes. However, over time, I began to understand how to develop new client relationships and to establish trust. There is always more to learn and the entrepreneurial aspect of law has been both the most challenging and also the most enjoyable part of my career.
What are some of your best memories of Oxford?
I made several long lasting friendships at Oxford and I have many wonderful memories. In my second year, with the support of my tutor and the Royal Geographical Society, I led an expedition to Tanzania with my fellow zoologists from St. Peters. To be in Africa with my best friends and a world class ecologist was a lifetime high for me.