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Partner Profile: Fiona Smedley

Partner Profile: Fiona Smedley

Every week we ask a law firm partner a series of rapid-fire questions about their career. This week: Freehills' Fiona Smedley.


Which firm are you with? 

Freehills, soon to be Herbert Smith Freehills from October 2012. 


When did you join that firm? 



When were you made a partner of that firm?

1 January 2007.


Which firm were you at most recently before your current firm? 

I’ve been at Freehills for more than 14 years. Prior to joining Freehills I worked in London for a couple of years. 


What practice group are you with? 

Corporate. I specialise in financial services and M&A in relation to funds and fund managers. 


What has been the most significant change to your practice area during your career? 

It’s hard to pick one as there have been many important regulatory changes, from CLERP in the late 1990s through to the current changes for FOFA and the new shorter PDS regime. Outside my practice area, the most significant change I have experienced has been the arrival of the BlackBerry – it has revolutionised the way that we work and the speed at which we can work.   


What has been a major career highlight for you? 

Last year I worked with UBS AG in relation to its acquisition of ING Investment Management Limited from the ING Group. It was a significant transaction because the company acquired was one of Australia’s largest investment managers, with total funds under management of approximately $34 billion and a strong presence in both retail and wholesale sectors. It was a fantastic experience to be embedded in a motivated and multi-jurisdictional UBS bid team and hugely rewarding to play a role in crystallising UBS’ acquisition of a critical mass in the competitive investment management market.


What do you like about being a lawyer? 

Lots of things. Every day I meet and work with clients and lawyers who are seriously smart and at the top of their game, which is inspiring and stimulating. Working with top-tier clients and on difficult and challenging matters stretches me, which allows me achieve my potential and is very rewarding personally and professionally. I enjoy solving problems and getting to know clients and their businesses. The bonus with that is that understanding a business enables me to propose solutions that work legally as well as commercially, which gives me a real sense of satisfaction.  


What do you find challenging? 

Getting out of the office early enough to eat dinner at a “sensible time”. Our workplace is increasingly global and transaction timelines seem to get shorter all the time, which can make for a long day in the office. 


What do you enjoy doing when you are not working? 

Getting out into the sunshine and breathing fresh air. Having spent my early years in the north of England, I have a strong appreciation for year round sunshine and the benefits of living in Sydney. I had a wonderful holiday walking the Annapurnas in Nepal a few years ago and I’d love to get back there and explore some more of the Nepalese mountains. Walking in the mountains is wonderful for putting things into perspective, literally.


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