In a sense, I grew up at HFW. I first came here as a vacation scheme student in summer 1993, and I never really left. In those days, the firm was much smaller than it is now, but it had the same friendly, fun atmosphere.
The training contract in 1995-6 was somewhat different to that which we offer Trainees in 2014. There were only five Trainees per year, and international seats were a bonus rather than a requirement. I remember losing out to another Trainee on the opportunity to spend six months in Paris – I couldn't compete with his tri-lingual skills! Little did I know that as the years went by, I would get many opportunities to travel, not just within Europe, but further afield to the USA, Russia, China and Ghana.
Just as the legal field is constantly changing, so are our clients' businesses and markets. I qualified into our trade and energy group, now part of the energy and resources group. Like many HFW Partners, at one stage or another, I have done my fair share of charterparty and bills of lading disputes. But my practice has broadened out over the years, and now encompasses financial as well as physical commodity transactions, and advisory work as well as dispute resolution. No two days (and no two clients) are ever the same. I do miss the pre-internet days of legal research – now I don't need to leave my desk to look up a case, but I wish I still had the excuse to delve into the "real" reports in the library. Of course, the same technology which keeps me out of the library allows me to work remotely from home and abroad and to balance my work and home lives.
Some nineteen years (and a husband and two children) later, I now take a great interest in our Trainee recruitment and I am on the panel of London Partners who undertake interviews. We seem to have more impressive candidates every year. I enjoy sitting on the "other side of the table" and listening to candidates who have researched the firm demonstrating their enthusiasm to work with us. It is a particular pleasure to see candidates who have impressed us on interview starting their training contract – especially if their first seat is in my team.
When I was a newly qualified lawyer, and long before I even thought of having children, someone told me that I "couldn't have it all". I am really pleased to be able to have proved that to be completely wrong!