Claudius Sokenu, Law alumna, stellar career in New York
Claudius Sokenu graduated from LSBU's Law Department in 1994 and is now a successful partner at Arnold & Porter in New York, but his career has not all been plain sailing."In my second year at LSBU, I applied for a programme offering ethnic minority law students the chance to spend the summer working in New York", says Claudius. "I got turned down. So I wrote directly to one of the judges taking part and asked if I could take part in the programme anyway, and she said yes. It was a brilliant experience. By the end of the summer, I'd decided that I wanted to practice law in New York."
New York Bar exams
When the time came to choose between Bar School and solicitors' finals, Claudius chose neither. Instead he did a Masters in law at King's College London, then started studying for the New York Bar exams. "People thought I was crazy," chuckles Claudius, "but I'd looked around and I couldn't see anyone that looked like me here in London who'd achieved what I wanted to achieve by going down the traditional paths. Wall Street had always fascinated me, and globalisation was gathering pace. I wanted to be part of that excitement. So once I'd finished my studies in London and moved to the US I enrolled on a Masters in securities and financial regulation at Georgetown University Law School in Washington DC."
Pace and intensity
After graduation, Claudius worked for three years at the Securities and Exchange Commission before moving back to New York to work for Mayer Brown. He's been a partner with his current firm, Arnold & Porter, since 2009. "I love the pace and intensity of life in New York," he says. "In terms of the future, who knows? At the moment I really enjoy being in private practice. But I can see myself going back into government, and maybe step up my teaching. For the last two years I've been an adjunct professor at my old law school, Georgetown, teaching a class in securities enforcement.
Claudius is quick to pay tribute to the role his LSBU education has played in his success.
One of the things I definitely learned from LSBU is how to think creatively, and find different ways to solve problems.
"I ended up going to the US, despite that initial rejection. Those kinds of experiences teach you that you have to go hard for what you want. The professors at LSBU – including Andy Unger, who's now head of the department – were always great, very receptive to different ideas and willing to help. My advice would be, find your vision and don't get distracted by naysayers. Go hard, or go home."
Claudius maintains a global practice representing multinational corporations, hedge funds, private equity firms, investment banks, public and private companies and their employees in all aspects of securities litigation, enforcement, white-collar criminal defence, crisis management and corporate and congressional investigations. Clients have included Ernst & Young Global Limited, Allianz SE, CIBC World Markets Corp., Avon Products, Inc., Bank of America, Arthur Andersen LLP and TV Azteca S.A. de C.V.