Lucy M.
Senior Associate
Job category Law

About Lucy

Key Experiences

From the Citizens Advice Bureau to City law firm
I decided that I wanted to be a lawyer after completing a school work experience placement at a local law firm. From there I chose to pursue law academically (I studied Law at A-Level followed by a Law degree at Cambridge University) and looked for other ways to build my experience along the way (one of which was volunteering in the Citizens Advice Bureau and completing a young adviser programme).

I started my training contract at Herbert Smith Freehills in March 2011 after completing my LPC at BPP. I spent my first two seats in Real Estate and Corporate (in the Technology, Media and Telecoms team). I then moved into the Dispute Resolution Division and spent six months in the London team, followed by six months in Hong Kong. I thoroughly enjoyed my training contract and found it difficult to decide where to qualify, but ultimately chose the Dispute Resolution Division.

Current Position

I sit on the Committee of our Women Lawyers Network
I am Senior Associate in a group that does a wide range of general commercial disputes work. I like the variety of work on offer, and have worked on high profile arbitration and litigation matters across a number of sectors. I have a particular interest in the Technology, Media and Telecoms sector and, more recently, data protection issues. I also spent a year on secondment to a telecoms company as an in-house disputes lawyer.

Outside of 'the work' I enjoy getting involved in other parts of the firm, including various graduate recruitment initiatives. I also sit on the Committee of our Women Lawyers Network, which is one of a number of networks which help support the firm's over-arching gender diversity initiatives. The objectives of the Women Lawyers Network include supporting the careers and professional development of women lawyers, together with providing networking opportunities and access to role models. For example, the Network has set up an informal internal mentoring programme and organises a number of events throughout the year. We are often joined by guest speakers (such as Bryony Gordon, Mariella Frostrup and Dame Stephanie Shirley), and these events are always an extremely enjoyable way to get to know colleagues and clients.

Main Motivations

I enjoy working in teams in a challenging environment
I like being a lawyer because I find the subject matter interesting and I enjoy working in teams in a fast-paced, challenging environment. I also enjoy teaching and guiding more junior lawyers, whilst continuing to learn myself.

One of the best things about working in a firm like Herbert Smith Freehills is the breadth of opportunities that are on offer. Some of these are what you would expect from a large, international law firm (for example, client and international secondments), whilst others are more unpredictable (last year I took a self-defence class in the office for six weeks). I think that it is important to be open to all opportunities throughout your career, particularly those which surprise you.

Top Advice

Be open-minded and take it one stage at a time
Try to approach your career with an open-mind, trust your gut instinct and take it one stage at a time.

A number of my career highlights have come from things that I would not have predicted. For example, when I started at Herbert Smith Freehills I had no interest in international secondments and thought I was going to be a corporate lawyer. As it happens, a secondment to Hong Kong turned out to be one of the highlights of my training contract and I ended up in the Dispute Resolution Division.

Greatest Achievement

Stepping into an in-house lawyer's shoes for a year
Spending a year on secondment as an in-house dispute resolution lawyer is probably the most challenging thing I have done in the last couple of years. I expected it to be a change from what I was used to (I was three years qualified at the time and had been in the firm for five years), but I did not expect it to feel like starting a new job.

I was expected to hit the ground running from day one, and quickly discovered that being an in-house legal counsel is a very different job to being an associate in a City law firm. The demands are different (for example, I was responsible for a greater number and broader range of matters than I was used to in private practice) and your clients tend to be colleagues elsewhere in the business who look to you to perform the role of a 'trusted adviser'.

Whilst this was a big change from what I was used to, and at times I felt out of my comfort zone, it was a wonderful experience. I learnt a lot and made some great friends and contacts along the way.

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