Trusting Your Instincts: An Interview with Thomas Lugez27 November 2019
"Combining his experience in banking law with such a well-known European institution was a marriage made in heaven."
Thomas is a European through and through and has always been interested in European matters and law. He thinks it stemmed from his time as a student in Saarbrücken, a German city located only 100km from Luxembourg and closely linked to Europe’s development.
The offer of a position at the European Investment Bank (EIB), which is a body of the EU as well as an investment and development bank, was too good to turn down. “I was offered the opportunity to work on a diversified range of transactions including funds, quasi-equity transactions and subordinated debt”. Combining his experience in banking law with such a well-known European institution was a marriage made in heaven, even if his colleagues bet he would miss Paris and return. He proved them wrong.
Four and a half years down the line Thomas still enjoys his role. “EIB’s in-house counsel focus is very much transactional. Typically, I lead the negotiations with the borrower with the help of an external legal counsel (where one is appointed),” he explains. He loves the fact that he sees a transaction from start to finish (although there is constant juggling from one to another) and is empowered to take some risk-taking decisions. His role also means he gets to work with a variety of people in the bank, giving him a really rounded perspective on any transaction.
A typical day will include regular tasks such as conference calls on transactions, seeking approvals, reviewing term-sheets, dealing with amendments and waivers requested by the client and appointing law firms. Thomas also gets to travel to attend official signature ceremonies with senior figures in the Bank and was delighted to attend one on the French island of La Réunion!
And what about Brexit? “A lot of discussions have been going on since the 2016 UK referendum and as the UK is one of the shareholders of the Bank, we are (like many people and institutions) eagerly awaiting the outcome of negotiations and the result of the UK General Election in December”.
"At WFW I learned to work hard, be an expert and satisfy clients."
Thomas sees parallels between the culture of the EIB and WFW. “At WFW I learned to work hard, be an expert and satisfy clients while at the same time being courteous to clients and colleagues alike. It is the same here,” he says. “I am happy to go to the office every morning!”
Thomas is not the only former WFW lawyer at the EIB. Others include Penny Gemona and Borja Oxangoiti, and although they work in other teams, Thomas sees them frequently.
Thomas had an eclectic list of possible careers before he became a lawyer, including becoming a paediatrician, doctor, cook and tour guide, though he has no regrets about his final choice. He advises people to enjoy what they do and work with nice people, move if you are not happy and set priorities as you won’t be able to make everyone happy.
He looks back to WFW with fondness, remembering the many people he so enjoyed working with then – Laurence Martinez-Bellet, Alexia Russell, Olivier Challine, Laurent Battoue, Eric Diamantis, to name a few – and some of whom he works with now.
Away from work, Thomas enjoys many activities, including gardening, reading, playing tennis and cooking.