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Entrepreneurship, Technology and DE&I - why Axel chose Goodwin

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My name is Axel. I was born and raised in Italy, more precisely Milan, but I am originally from the Ivory Coast. I studied International Relations at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore of Milan before pursuing an MSc in Development Studies at the LSE. During my undergraduate degree, I was involved in some university societies, among which the StartUp Grind Unicatt and 180 Degrees Consulting Milan were my favourites. Through them, I developed my passion for advocacy and helping small businesses achieve their full potential. At LSE, I was involved in the Programme for African Leadership and the Rule of Law Journal on Human Rights and Social Justice. Outside of school, I enjoy travelling and learning new languages.

What inspired you to apply to this role with Goodwin?

What attracted me to Goodwin was the distinctive factor distinguishing Goodwin from any other international law firm in the industry: the firm helps small to medium businesses and entrepreneurs. This uniqueness allows you to be exposed to a plethora of business processes and developments and ultimately become a holistic corporate lawyer. An example is the long-term partnership that ties Goodwin to a well-renowned company like Moderna.

Additionally, Goodwin stood out to me for its strong focus on technological innovation, which strategically positions its lawyers at the intersection of technology, investors and emerging markets. I was excited at the chance to help small corporations develop and blossom, supporting them in all the stages of their corporate lifecycle. With the increasing importance of technology and AI in our society, fully understanding the legal consequences deriving from their implementation in every sector is fundamental. Training at Goodwin gives me an advantage, as a corporate lawyer, to know how the legal world navigates these consequences from the start of my legal career.

Finally, what truly sets the firm apart is its diversity, equity and inclusion strategy which resonates with me. As someone who thrives in diverse environments thanks to my international and diverse background, being at a firm that understands how inclusion and equity foster sustainable diversity was quintessential to me. The Chairman of Goodwin, Robert Insolia, highlighted the importance of this aspect which motivated me even more to apply to the firm.

What excites you most about becoming a trainee?

What excites me most is the possibility of learning from outstanding lawyers who are genuinely inspiring and forward-thinking, the chance to train with a group of future trainees that I admire, and the growth that the firm is experiencing and will continue to experience in the firm.

How important is diversity to you, and what is Goodwin doing in this space now?

As a black international student, diversity is the most important aspect I look at when assessing whether or not I want to apply to a law firm. Outside of my academics or professional experiences, I have been part of CHAMPS, which seeks to dismantle Afrophobia, racism and anti-blackness sentiments in Italy. The tangible impact that I had with the organisation is something that I want to keep striving for even in my career.

Goodwin is actively working to change the legal industry and uplift lawyers from underrepresented backgrounds. The workshop led by Rob Insolia, who discussed the importance of D, E & I at Goodwin, stood out to me during the vacation scheme. He recognised that even though 5% of lawyers at Goodwin are black, the firm acknowledges the importance of focusing on inclusion and equity to reach diversity. Many sponsorship programmes and reverse mentorship initiatives have been put in place, not only at the trainee level but, most importantly, at the partnership level, to ensure everyone is aware of the experiences and difficulties of diverse lawyers. Moreover, the Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity works hard to ensure that ethnic minority lawyers and trainees feel safe, welcomed and heard throughout their time at the firm. Additionally, the firm’s long-lasting relationship with organisations such as Aspiring Solicitors or Bright Network is a testament to Goodwin's importance on diversity.

Finally, any tips for anyone who’d like to apply for a role at Goodwin?

As cliché as it sounds, be yourself! This is the best piece of advice I can give anyone who is thinking of applying to Goodwin. Often times there is a pressure to fit the mould of what we think an aspiring commercial solicitor is. However, I found that at Goodwin what truly matters is your true self, so be sure to show your personality and the way you think throughout the application process and never try to emulate anyone cause it never works!