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Abbas Sharif

Trainee Solicitor

I come from a family of entrepreneurs and during the school holidays I used to sit in my father's office, listening to him and his lawyer discuss finance contracts, insurance matters and cargo shipping. This interaction between the business world, law and my fondness for helping people solve challenging difficulties led to my decision to study law at university and a particular interest in commercial law.

I was interested in the shipping industry and wanted to be involved in international commerce - having lived, studied and worked in different countries including, Somalia, Kenya, Belgium, Tanzania, Netherlands, Norway and UK. I knew I wanted to train in a firm with a small trainee intake and broad range of seat choices including international secondments. I was looking for a firm that helped me develop both personally by embracing early responsibility with top quality work, and commercially by allowing me to gain a practical knowledge of business needs and developments in today's globalised market. HFW was the firm that ticked all of the above for me.

I completed a two week vacation scheme, split between the energy department and ship finance department, working on various live projects in different jurisdictions with leading lawyers. I was attracted to HFW's culture of collaboration and collegiality where people were supportive and friendly but also hard working. This experience wrapped up my decision to accept the offer of a training contract.

I was able to meet and get to know my future colleagues during the LPC, where the course provider placed all future trainees of the firm in the same small group sessions.

The first seat of my training contract was with the Shipping (wet) litigation department in London. Less than two weeks into my training contract and within a week of joining my department, the government announced nationwide lockdown and the firm arranged for everyone to work from home. This was unprecedented and challenging but also interesting experience. I found out that via weekly Zoom and WhatsApp connections everyone was approachable, accommodating and friendly. I quickly built good relations with the team and started to work on cases arising from international marine casualties, including jurisdiction, limitation and apportionment of liability, collisions, salvage and general average. The highlight of my seat was the benefit of being involved in one of the firm's first virtual LMAA 6 day arbitration which has contributed to my understanding of legal principles and commercial issues.

I am currently a second seat Trainee sitting with the Commodities Litigation department in London. I am in a small sub-team which specialises in international trade and commodities (hard and soft). As a small team, everyone no matter how junior is encouraged to pitch in and share their view of the issues in the cases. I am currently assisting in a number of contentious cases involving disputes in relation to international energy trade, day to day precious metals trading and derivative commodity contracts.

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