Charlotte Britton – Associate
Languages (French and Russian) – Bristol
I studied French and Russian at Bristol University before going on to complete the GDL and LPC. I started my training contract with HFW in September 2013.
I was immediately attracted to HFW because of the international opportunities and the chance to work on maritime and energy matters. Having studied languages at university, I was also keen to find a career where I would have the prospect of working internationally not only in terms of the content of the work but also working in an international office. I applied for a place on the summer vacation scheme and spent two weeks working in the commercial litigation department. The vacation scheme confirmed to me that I had chosen the right firm. The people were friendly and approachable and the work was demanding, interesting and involved clients from all over the world.
I began my training contract in the corporate group, sitting with the oil and gas team. I immediately enjoyed the complex and challenging nature of the work I was involved with. I also loved thinking through the commercial aspects of transactional work as well as the legal side of things. The highlight of my first six months was being given the opportunity to attend a week long negotiating oil and gas contracts master class as one of the delegates. Not only did this greatly develop my negotiating skills but it also gave me the chance to meet people working in the industry.
I spent my second seat working in one of the firm's Australian offices. Due to the small size of the office in Perth, I felt very much part of the team from the very outset. I divided my time mainly between shipping and construction disputes most of which were related to the mining sector. I also continued to do non- contentious work. It was a great opportunity to work within a completely different market and jurisdiction. The highlight of my second seat was assisting a Partner with advice on a vessel collision. I attended client meetings immediately after the incident, assisted in negotiating and drafting indemnity letters from the P&I clubs and drafted the witness statements.
My third seat was in contentious insurance/reinsurance. I got involved with a variety of cases ranging from professional negligence claims to marine construction and non-payment insurance. There was a great deal of variety in the tasks I was given day to day, which is great experience for a Trainee. A lot of my time was taken up with an LCIA arbitration – through this I learned a great deal about case management especially how to deal with large volumes of documents.
My fourth seat was with the construction team. The main case I assisted with involved a tunnel collapse so I had to get my head around geology as well as the law! The highlight of the seat was flying to Frankfurt to interview a witness.
I qualified into the firm's non-contentious Energy & Resources group in September 2015. The role of a corporate Associate at HFW is hugely varied – so far I have helped with joint ventures and LNG and offshore projects as well as M&A deals, bond programmes and corporate restructurings – which means that you are constantly learning and developing as a lawyer. It's also interesting work and the team is friendly and enjoyable to work with.