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Sian Scanlon

Cambridge Spotlight: Sian Scanlon

Posted on 12 April 2024

This article is part of our Cambridge Spotlight series, profiling our lawyers based in our Cambridge office. In the series, we find out about their backgrounds, their journey through law and hear why Cambridge is important to them.

Sian is a Partner in the Corporate department focusing on owner managed and founder-led businesses dealing with mergers & acquisitions, reorganisations and general corporate advisory matters.

I knew I wanted to get into law when… I didn't know for a really long time. I have a science background and my degree was in genetics – I really love science. But I didn't want to work as a scientist. I was weighing up how to use my knowledge and thought maybe I'd do a conversion to law and work in intellectual property. I was looking for something that challenged me and had lots of education and learning. The more I did it, the more I realised this was the thing for me.

I came to be in Cambridge because… I didn't have a traditional start – I moved to Ely and did two years of my training contract inhouse for the District Council. After that I joined Taylor Vinters, but working for the council has brought me a lot of unique skills and given me a different view than a lot of corporate lawyers.

I chose Corporate law because… it's about getting things done and supporting the whole business. The kind of work we're privileged to do is often with owners or founders, and so its more than just a job, it’s the entire lifecycle of a business. We get to help the navigate things as they (in some cases literally) change the world.

The thing that motivates me most is… getting things over the line, completing them, and working with really interesting people to whom it matters and who are open to conversations and the extra value you can add. It's all about relationships at the end of the day.

The work achievement I'm most proud of is… I can't talk about a lot of things because of confidentiality, but I get to work with some incredible companies in health tech who are on the cutting edge of medical advancements. That always makes me proud.

The thing that makes Cambridge such a hub of innovation is… it's a confluence of a variety of factors. You have a virtuous circle – you have clever people doing who want to do interesting things that will have an impact on the world, and then you have a really engaged ecosystem that supports them and guides them through the noise.

One opportunity from the merger is… what we can offer our clients. Previously I would have had to refer the client out, but now I can now make sure that we can deliver as a whole package, in the best possible way for the client.

Somebody that has inspired me during my career is… I've always tried to take something from everybody. You can learn something from everybody you work with, whether it be a good thing, or something you don't want to pass down. But specifically, the Head of Legal at East Cambridgeshire District Council when I was there was a woman called Eleanor Hoggart. She set a really good example of how to how to navigate this, and how to make sure that you are doing what you know to be the right thing in the right way, and to be non-apologetic about it.

One thing I wish I knew when I started my career is… 'It's not the end of the world,' is a really important one. Almost all lawyers are perfectionists, and I think we all agree we want the best for our clients, but you need to keep a sense of pragmatism in everything that you do. 

One future trend in my practice area is… I think we're continuing to look at refinements in how we deliver our service. Doing transactional work is quite pressured, and we need to look at how we offer value for money. There might be some elements of automation there, and some elements of productization, to make sure that we can continue to be competitive and deliver what our clients want in the way that they want it.

The one thing you don't know about me is... I'm a massive nature nerd, in particular birds. I've been an avid bird watcher since I was small. And in lockdown, I was able to get a dog. She's got boundless energy and isn't food-motivated at all, so most of my spare time is spent training her!

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