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It falls to me to welcome you all to the 2023 edition of Alumni Matters, and to thank those across the HSF network, particularly my colleagues Kym Somers and Olivia Troop, who have brought us such an absorbing collection of new alumni stories.

This year’s introduction must start on a sad note, and pay tribute to my predecessor, John Farr, who died this year after a short battle with cancer. He has been taken from us far too early. John was a hugely respected litigation and employment partner in London, and subsequently the inspiration behind the development of our thriving alumni network. He was also a great person to be around, and those who knew him will remember him with affection. His obituary appears on page 52 of the magazine. John’s memorial service in Kew in October was a fitting tribute and drew a huge turnout of former colleagues from the firm.

In Alumni Matters, we aim to reflect the firm’s global reach, which includes all the different places our alumni are based. In this issue, we speak to alumni based far and wide, from Australia to Colombia (A view from Bogota), via Hong Kong, Japan, Europe and the UK. They bring their international perspective and insight into how to solve some pressing issues.

The energy transition away from reliance on fossil fuels is one of the biggest global challenges currently facing us. We have spoken to a number of our alumni who either in-house (Amos Carrington, Ben Hargraves and Jerome Hamilton) or in other capacities (Mark Rigotti, the firm’s former global CEO and now CEO of the Australian Institute of Company Directors) are investing their expertise into this huge endeavour. 

Hear their views in the roundtable. Their conclusion? Much change is happening, although perhaps not as fast as we would like.

It is often said that data is the new oil, the management and protection of which is increasingly important to how business operates. Control of data is also vital in helping First Nations peoples in Australia, Canada and elsewhere tell their own stories and eradicate centuries-old discrimination, as Barbie-Lee Kirby explains.

It is not only climate change and data management impacting business; companies face challenges from multiple directions – greater regulation, focus on corporate governance, activist shareholders, not to mention the volatility of the global economy. That has led to a spotlight on the general counsel role. We spoke to two GCs (Henrietta Rowe and Minchu Wang) working in different sectors (healthcare and private equity) to see how they are responding – and thriving.

Similarly, the role of non-executive directors has become more critical in recent years. Lawyers and former lawyers can play a very valuable role as board members, as much for their expertise in risk management as their legal background, as Carol Shutkever and Selina Lightfoot explain.

What about the regulators? It is all too easy to assume that regulators have little regard to the impact of new regulations and are merciless enforcers. The truth is far more nuanced, as we hear from Tim Parkes, former longstanding partner and now chair of the UK Financial Conduct Authority’s Regulatory Decisions Committee.

It is always gratifying when our people return to the firm after working elsewhere, and we are interested to know what draws them back, finding out what they have done while away from the firm, what they have learned and how their experience enriches the firm.

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As well as their contribution to boards, lawyers and our former business services staff are bringing their experience and knowledge to bear in new businesses. In this issue we hear from Michelle Ridsdale and Alex Cook, who have each started a healthcare-related business.

Alumni Matters strives to bring our readers up to date with important firm developments. This issue, we report on the excellent progress of the firm’s Alternative Legal Services (ALT) offering. Reflecting clients’ desire for their law firms to deliver efficient, technologically focused services, ALT is busy meeting that demand. Nicola Heaney describes how her involvement in ALT in the Belfast office has helped set up in her subsequent career.

ALT aside, former partner Scott Cochrane says that from a client’s vantage point, law firms could and should be doing more to harness the technology potential in their services.

It is always gratifying when our people return to the firm after working elsewhere, and we are interested to know what draws them back, finding out what they have done while away from the firm, what they have learned and how their experience enriches the firm (Jon Ford and Heather Kelly).

We hope you enjoy reading our alumni stories.

The alumni team are always pleased to hear from you, so do contact us and let us know what you’re up to, bring us news of other alumni, give us ideas for our publications and events and suggest ways in which we can enhance the value we bring to our alumni network. On that note, a big thank you to those who took the time to complete our 2023 alumni survey and if you haven’t yet managed to do so it’s not too late.

I’m happy to say that our various reunion events are now all back up and running and we hope to see many of you at the events scheduled for the coming year. Make sure we have your up-to-date contact details. Part of John’s legacy is that the alumni network should not only be useful but also fun, so do come along to enjoy the company of old friends and perhaps make some new ones. Photos from this year’s events can be found here.

One final request from me. By necessity, given data privacy laws, the alumni network is an “opt in” association which requires people to register. If you encounter fellow HSF alumni who have yet to register, do please encourage them to do so, so that we can keep in touch and include them in our activities. It can be done in a few clicks on the firm’s Alumni website.

Wishing you and your families health, happiness and success over the year ahead.


Alumni Matters 2023

Start here

Introduction with Adrian Clough

Our latest issue brings international perspectives from Australia, the UK, Colombia, Japan and more

A conversation with Tim Parkes

Reflections of a former Executive Partner

How data can empower Australia’s indigenous communities

Accessing data sovereignty to empower First Nation Australians

A view from Bogota

Maria Fernanda Florez discusses her time at Herbert Smith Freehills and her latest role as director of legal at Open English/Next U

How ALT was a stepping stone for me

The journey from the earliest days of ALT to in-house senior manager

Following the sun

HSF’s Alternative Legal Services: Our story

In search of alternative energy sources

Four alumni and one current partner explore the challenges and opportunities of energy transition

Awaiting the revolution: How will AI transform legal services?

Scott Cochrane on how AI will transform legal services

Lawyer to founder

Two Herbert Smith Freehills alumni tell us what it takes to create your own company

Talking tech: The rise and regulation of generative AI

Andrea Appella outlines the attempts to put guardrails on the transformative power of artificial intelligence

Why I came back

Heather Kelly and Jon Ford talk about their time away from Herbert Smith Freehills and what brought them back

In-house In-touch

Navigating a new business world with General Counsels Henrietta Rowe and Minchu Wang

Expanding horizons

The alumni guide to building a career as a non-executive director

Firm Highlights 2023

From the National Portrait Gallery reopening to the launch of Life@HSF, the last year has been an eventful year for HSF

Alumni Matters 2023

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