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Marc Ghammachi – Associate, Shipping (Dubai)

Law - Lyon

I completed my undergraduate degree in French private law and obtained a master's degree in European business law from the university of Lyon III in France. I also undertook a master's degree in private international law from Rajasthan University in India.

I started my training contract with HFW in March 2014, after completing the GDL and LPC. I applied directly for a training contract, without going through a vacation scheme.

Joining HFW was an obvious choice for me. I was particularly attracted to the firm's growing international network and aspirations. With its 13 offices worldwide (and counting) and the requirement for Trainees to do at least 1 seat abroad, I knew that HFW would provide a truly international work environment and consistent cross-border experience. Also, the firm's steady growth in recent years is, for me, evidence of HFW positioning itself amongst the leaders in its areas of expertise.

My first seat was in the corporate team. The work was varied and, as anticipated, very international. During my time in this department I worked on a number of different matters, such as: (i) an AIM IPO; (ii) the takeover of a publicly listed company by Indonesian clients; (iii) preparing a conference on mining risks in Africa; or (iv) analysing the key features of the Singaporean alternative stock market (Catalist). I was quickly put in a position of responsibility. Client contact and self-management were encouraged, although there was always someone available to direct and correct me when required.

My second seat was in the fraud and insolvency department. This was purely a litigation seat. As I had no litigation experience at the time, the early stages of this placement were quite challenging. However, being out of my comfort zone, combined with valuable support from the team, proved the perfect learning platform. Amongst other things, this seat enabled me to acquire a solid knowledge of court procedures, a crucial skill for any litigation lawyer. The work was diverse, ranging from preparing for and attending court hearings or creditor meetings, to drafting interparty correspondence. The jurisdictions involved were equally varied, including Russia, Djibouti or the Caribbean.

My third seat was in HFW's Dubai office, as part of the shipping team. This proved a brilliant experience. Being part of a relatively smaller office translated into yet more responsibility. A highlight, for example, was being given the opportunity to manage a charterparty dispute on my own, with supervision. A lot of the work in our Dubai office is international arbitration-related and often involves various Middle-Eastern jurisdictions. This seat, therefore, proved a good introduction to arbitration itself, but also to the region's diverse cultures and legal systems. On a personal level, Dubai has a Trainee mailing list, which was a great way of meeting all the other Trainees who were there at the time, some of whom became very good friends.

I completed my last seat as part of HFW's commodities team in Geneva. Having the opportunity to do two seats abroad is a valuable and, possibly, unique feature of HFW's training contract. Geneva is a global centre for commodities trading and HFW are one of the few UK firms to have a presence there. It was a great experience. I have now qualified in the Dubai office, back into the Shipping team.