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Thomas Morgan

Associate, Shipping

After some work experience in the shipping team of a Singapore law firm during a summer off university, I decided that law was for me. I opened Chambers guide in search of top international shipping litigation firms. I settled on HFW, excited by client comments quoting market leading expertise and in particular, their global reach. The chance to travel with work had always appealed to me.

I undertook a vacation scheme with HFW around the time Somalian piracy was kicking off. I was hooked, I liked the thought of solving clients’ complex disputes arising in challenging environments.

After accepting a place with HFW, I completed the GDL, LPC and negotiated with the HR department to defer by a year. I can’t remember if I confessed at the time that it was to go skiing for six months!.

During my training contract, I spent six months in HFW’s Melbourne office. I acted on matters in the Federal Court including an offshore drilling dispute and disputes arising from the 2009 bushfires in Victoria. Outside the office, and as a keen sportsman, I completely lucked out, my time coincided with the AFL, rugby, F1, tennis and cricket season.

I expected to qualify in London when at the last moment a partner in the Hong Kong office asked if I’d be interested in a move. A month later (and in no way swayed by regularly attending the South Stand at the rugby sevens, I promise), I was on a plane to Hong Kong where I spent over four years working in the SOL team. Spending time working with clients in a different culture was valuable. A work high was perhaps picking up a client's 3am phone call to respond to a major collision in the harbour involving a cargo spill and damage to the environment.

The size of the Hong Kong office meant lots of contact with clients. I gained insight into the Chinese market where long-standing relationships often encourage commercial approaches over litigation. The firm also gave me the opportunity to go on secondments, first to a P&I Club in Hong Kong for six months as legal counsel, then for three months in Tokyo as legal counsel for another P&I Club, to see just exactly what our clients thought of HFW!

I’m now back in London, three foreign cities ticked-off and in no doubt of HFW's global reach. The firm has consistently supported my path, assisting in relocation, arranging supervisors and introducing me to clients. It's clear the Partners value the experience I gained working with different offices, clients and markets. I work in the Shipping department on a number of high profile, and in some cases sensitive, matters arising from vessel fires, groundings on reefs, collisions, container collapses and dangerous cargoes. It's always challenging and that's the fun of it.

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