The lure of uncharted terrain attracted Dipali Sahni to her role in London as Eaglewood Europe LLP’s general counsel and compliance officer. Eaglewood, an investment fund, offers clients investment strategies in the alternative credit space, particularly in the area of peer-to-peer lending. Peer-to-peer platforms, or marketplace lending platforms, are disrupting the traditional banking business model by, among other things, offering borrowers speed and efficiency through technology.
Sahni, who worked in Sidley’s London and New York offices from 2001 to 2010, was recruited as a trainee out of college. “I joined the London office pre-merger, when it was still small enough for everyone to be on a first name basis,” Sahni recalled. “It was one of the things that attracted me to the firm at the time: the desire not to be one of many anonymous trainees; I was one of only two in my intake.”
In almost a decade at the firm, she advised on matters in the areas of structured finance, securitization, derivatives, banking and alternative investment funds. “The merger in 2001 naturally increased the size of the office, but it wasn’t until I moved to New York in 2006 that I really understood what a global force Sidley was,” she said.
Sahni then switched gears for a role in New York as a vice president of Morgan Stanley’s securitized products group. She was there for three years, before getting married and returning to London.
That move in-house proved very valuable professionally. “Sidley gave me a solid foundation, but my stint at Morgan Stanley made me realize that my skills were better suited to an in-house role,” said Sahni. “I sat on the trading floor with the group I covered, so there was nowhere to hide. It made me a more commercial lawyer.”
She admitted she was being picky about choosing her next position when she was approached by Rachpal Thind, a partner in Sidley’s London office, with what appeared to be a novel opportunity at Eaglewood, one of the firm’s clients. “Rachpal said, ‘One of our clients is looking for a senior counsel. It’s a new business. Would you be interested?’”
Sahni acknowledged she took a leap of faith in leaving the decades-strong, brick and mortar international institutions in which she had previously worked for a start-up. Her decision to make that move was inspired partly by wanting to experience the challenge of working in a new area. She cited senior partners at Sidley with whom she had worked who had been frontiersmen in the securitization area. “I’d love to work somewhere where it really is all just starting,” she recalled thinking. “I never thought I’d find a role in a new business that would be suitable for someone with a skill-set as specialized as mine.”
Now, she said, “Every day is different for me. I have a lot more responsibility than I’ve had before and it’s very exciting.”
Despite having moved on from Sidley, Sahni quipped that its employees keep popping up in her life. “Just last week, I was in France for a friend’s wedding, and friends from Sidley were also there. I’m forgetting all the all-nighters we pulled that cemented great relationships.” She said that not only did Sidley give her great training, which she can now apply in a different professional space, “It’s given me a social circle across the world.”
Published July 2015 - UPDATE, General Counsel and Head of Compliance; DEMICA
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