I studied History before completing the GDL and LPC. I completed my training contract with HFW and qualified as an Associate in the Commodities group in HFW's Geneva office in September 2016. Being a global trading hub, Geneva is a brilliant location to be a commodities lawyer, with many of our clients being based within walking distance of our office. We advise companies both throughout Switzerland and further afield on both commodities disputes and trade finance matters.
I was originally attracted to HFW due to its international nature, both in terms of its client base and office locations. I was always keen to complete an international secondment whilst training, therefore, the fact that HFW Trainees are guaranteed at least one seat abroad was a big draw. HFW also appealed to me as it focussed on specific sectors including, but certainly not limited to, shipping, insurance, aerospace and commodities. HFW's strength in dispute resolution was another key reason why I wanted to train at the firm. I thought that HFW would be an excellent fit and I was proved right! The work has been varied, demanding and truly international.
As a Trainee, my first seat was in the firm's Construction department. I mainly worked on disputes revolving around defective and delayed building works and payment, and also carried out some non-contentious work. During my second seat I was seconded to the Geneva office. This was primarily a Commodities Litigation seat and I worked on multiple disputes relating to the sale and purchase of oil. I also assisted on telecommunications, international civil service, shipping and sanctions matters. From the outset I was given wide ranging exposure to different types of work and a lot of responsibility. I enjoyed my time in Geneva so much that I decided that I wanted to qualify there! I undertook my third seat in Ship Finance, where I ran and assisted on various vessel sale and purchase, financing and refinancing transactions. My final seat was in Shipping Litigation, working mainly on dry shipping disputes, such as ship building disputes, vessel sale and purchase disputes and cargo claims, being resolved by LMAA arbitration.
Now I work primarily on commodities disputes, being resolved by Gafta and LMAA arbitration. Increasingly, I am also working on trade finance matters, advising on a wide range of financing transactions, which I am really enjoying. During my first few months in Geneva, I was seconded part- time to a trading company here in Geneva, which was an invaluable experience and gave me a real insight how our clients operate.
So far Geneva has not disappointed and I am looking forward to what is to come!