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Catherine Emsellem-Rope

Legal Director, Energy

I first got to know HFW when I was senior legal counsel for a logistics company. HFW was our go-to firm and I worked closely with HFW on a number of matters. My company was taken over, and following the take over, I joined HFW.

By the time I joined HFW I had been a lawyer for almost eleven years. I came to England (from France) to study law and was called to the Bar in late 1998. I spent my first two years following my call in a very small law firm in London, and then spent nine years working in-house doing a mixture of commercial and corporate work, and a bit of litigation. Joining HFW was a big decision for me as private practice was a bit of an un-known, but I knew from working with HFW that it was the right firm for me. Just before joining HFW I re-qualified as a solicitor.

I joined the firm's Corporate, Project and Finance team, now part of our Energy group, as a transactional lawyer. My first year at HFW was dedicated to helping my former employer set up a new legal function in the north of England, which was great as it meant doing work I was very familiar with whilst getting used to a new way of working. I then got to work on a variety of matters, ranging from corporate M&A to project and commercial contracts work in the shipping, logistics, ports and terminals and oil and gas sectors. The great thing about joining HFW is that it enabled me to broaden my areas of expertise. I have worked with very experienced Associates and Partners and learnt (and continue to learn) a lot from them, which has meant that I was able to get involved in new sectors and learn new skills.

I started with the firm as an Assistant (equivalent of what we now call Associate). In 2013, the firm introduced a new Senior Associate role, and I was part of the first round of Senior Associate promotions. Traditionally, the next step would have been for me to become a Partner, but in 2016 the firm introduced a new Legal Director role as an alternative to partnership. I applied for the role and was promoted to the Legal Director role in April 2017. The role is still quite new, but it is a very exciting development, which offers the ability to reach a very senior position within the firm, without necessarily having to become a Partner.