Fiona Treanor is a Senior Associate in the Disputes department at Herbert Smith Freehills and has been with the firm for 10 years. Keep reading to find out what it is that made her choose HSF 10 years ago, and what she enjoys most about her role.
Why did you choose to work at HSF?
As a law student, I was very interested in litigation and was attracted to their strong reputation in disputes. I also had a very good impression of the people I met at my interview. They seemed very smart but also very friendly.
What surprised you about your role or the firm, since joining HSF?
I am constantly surprised and challenged by the range of skills required in this role. You need to be a great lawyer, of course, but also an effective team player, a mentor, a negotiator, a strategist... every day brings new and interesting challenges.
How would you describe the culture and working environment?
The firm is often described as "collegiate" and I think that is a very good description. There is a great support network among colleagues, which is essential when working (as we often do) on large and complex matters. In my 10 years working at the firm, I have always found people to be very approachable, no matter how senior they are.
The firm's commitment to diversity has a very positive impact on the working environment, both in terms of working practices (e.g. facilitating working from home) and in the fact that colleagues come from a wide range of backgrounds.
Tell us about your average day at HSF?
There is no "average" day at HSF! One day I might be at a hearing in the Commercial Court, the next day I could be interviewing witnesses or giving a talk. It is this variety that I find most stimulating.
What has been your main highlight whilst working at HSF?
Nothing quite compares to winning a case or achieving a really good settlement for your client.
What are some of the successful programmes and initiatives that HSF is using to attract and retain top female talent?
HSF has a wide range of initiatives to encourage gender diversity, including mentoring and flexible/agile working programmes. In March 2014, the firm set a 30% gender target for the promotion of women in the global partnership by 2019. This was a really positive development to ensure that we retain our female talent. We also have a Women Lawyers Network (WLN) which arranges a wonderful series of events throughout the year, with some inspiring speakers from within the firm as well as externally.
What would you say to any female gradates unsure if the legal industry is right for them?
Although historically the legal profession was male-dominated, this is changing. There are more women solicitors than ever, and increasingly they are being appointed to the most senior positions. While there will always be challenges (for both men and women) in balancing work life and home life, improvements in technology and a more progressive approach to flexible working are making a real difference. Overall, while further progress needs to be made, I think it is a great time to be a female embarking on a legal career.
What piece of advice would you give to graduates looking to secure a role with HSF?
First, make sure you set aside plenty of time to fill in your application and prepare for the interview. You will feel a lot more confident if you have done the preparation in advance.
Secondly, do not under-sell yourself – you are your own best advocate!
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