Shimaela began her Reignite journey with Sidley Austin, where she joined the tax team, working on a mix of tax and funds work. From there, she moved to Kirkland where she is a partner in the tax team. We talked about her varied career experience.
When did you first decide on a career in Law?
I originally trained as a chartered accountant with KPMG but quickly realised that I was more interested in a legal career. I gained a training contract with Clifford Chance and qualified into the tax department, focusing on unds and private equity transactions.
What motivated you to move on from Clifford Chance?
I loved the work but was keen to see the other side. I began to look at in house roles and secured a position with GE in the corporate tax group. I really enjoyed my time there but in 2010 my husband’s business led us to relocate to New York.
Tell us a little about your time in New York
I did look into practising as a lawyer in New York but everyone I approached required me to have the NY Bar, and this was still no guarantee of a role. By this time I had two young children so I took a quasi career break, including working with my husband’s software business, dealing with all their legal work and assisting them with fund raising.
What made you look at returner programmes
Whilst I was kept busy, I really wanted to forge my own career. I came across the Goldman Sachs returner programme, which was (as one would expect) an extremely competitive application process. I was one of 20 candidates (out of 2000 applicants) to join the 12-week programme and at the end of it she secured a role in the compliance team, which was a team where they preferred to hire lawyers.
How did you come across Reignite
When we returned to London it wasn’t possible to transfer my role with. Goldman Sachs so I thought about returning to private practice. I came across Reignite and met Steph and Lisa to explore a potential return.
I was sceptical about the possibility of returning to private practice after such a different career path but Sidley Austin were great at spotting potential and gave me an opportunity. The year I spent there was a great foundation and opened up even more avenues. At the end of 2021 I joined Kirkland as a partner.
What advice would you give others?
Just go for it. The next step doesn’t have to be the final step, it just has to be the right one for now. Take a leap. The Reignite team and their member firms are there to support you.