Emerging Dealmaker of The Year – An Interview with Tom Saunderson
Following our recent success at the Insider Media Wales Dealmakers Awards, at which we won Legal Team of The Year and our own Tom Saunderson was crowned Emerging Dealmaker of The Year, we sat down for a virtual chat with Tom to discuss what this award means to him and his work at Acuity.
Congratulations on your recent award as Emerging Dealmaker of The Year. We are very proud of your achievement, what does this mean to you?
I feel incredibly honoured to receive this award, especially in a field of such talented lawyers, bankers, and corporate financiers. Winning is a huge achievement and I am grateful for the recognition. It is fair to say that I wouldn’t have been in the running if it wasn’t for the trust, support, and guidance that I receive from my amazing team.
What does a corporate lawyer do?
We work with companies and stakeholders to close their deals quickly, efficiently, and on the best possible terms. We also guide businesses through all stages of corporate development, aligning business strategies and growth to minimise risks and maximise returns.
Being a corporate lawyer is so much more than just knowing the law or being good at drafting (those are a given) – you need to understand your client’s business and be prepared to actually offer solutions to their problems (rather than just posing the risks). It sounds clichéd, but it is absolutely key to have an appreciation that the best legal solution isn’t necessarily the best commercial solution.
What type of clients do you work with?
The majority of our clients are SMEs, many of which have been with the firm for a very long time. I regularly work with the likes of Brickability, Admiral, and Newport Wafer Fab, but I’m particularly enthusiastic about my work with start-ups and high-growth companies. There are some real success stories coming out of Wales – Sure Chill, Bond Digital, and AU Vodka to name but a few. Helping those companies grow from strength to strength is really gratifying.
Did you always want to work as a corporate lawyer?
No – I wanted to be a doctor but found myself being steered towards law when it came to picking my A levels. At that point, I also had a preconceived notion about what being a corporate lawyer meant – long hours and demanding clients – and had decided it wasn’t for me. However, I did a seat in corporate during my training contract and, whilst it didn’t really go any way to dispelling those notions, I also worked out that it is incredibly varied, I’m good at it (I think!?) and it is very rewarding (the satisfaction you get from closing a deal isn’t really matched in any other area of law – it is a little bit addictive!).
How do you see the corporate landscape changing over the next 12 months?
In terms of the M&A market, we’ve seen incredibly high levels of activity since September of last year and I can’t see that rebound slowing down any time soon. I envisage a continued acceleration of deal activity over the next 12 months (or at least until the Autumn Statement), supported by a release of pent-up M&A demand from COVID-affected sectors (such as aerospace, energy, real estate, and retail) as business conditions improve with increased vaccinations and relaxation of restrictions.
I also hope to see a return to some semblance of social normality, with people returning to offices, in-person meetings resuming and BD events back again (fingers crossed there are some corporate golf days this year!) but there is no doubt that the last 12 months has permanently changed the way we will work and conduct business. I think we will continue to hear the phrase “you’re on mute” for many years to come.
Acuity would like to thank Tom and the Corporate team for all of their hard work recognised at this year’s Deal Maker Awards and once again offer them our congratulations. If you’d like to work with an award-winning Corporate law firm, contact our Corporate team today to see how we can help your business.