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Partner Profile: Nicola Yeomans

Partner Profile: Nicola Yeomans

Every week we ask a law firm partner a series of rapid-fire questions about their career. This week: Herbert Smith Freehills' Nicola Yeomans.

Which firm are you with?

Herbert Smith Freehills.

When did you join that firm?

I joined the Perth office as a graduate. I moved to our Sydney office in 2001, spent a year in Melbourne at the Takeovers Panel in 2005, then returned to Sydney. I relocated to the Herbert Smith Freehills Singapore office at the beginning of 2013.

When were you made a partner of that firm?

In 2009, in the Sydney office.

Which firm were you at most recently prior to this?

I have always been with the one firm. I am what they call a Herbert Smith Freehills ‘lifer’.

What practice group are you with?

Corporate. I am a cross-border M&A specialist, with a particular focus on acquisitions inbound to emerging markets. I also have a capital markets background, having acted on IPOs, secondary equity issues and debt and hybrid issues in various jurisdictions.

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

The growth of my Indian client base. I started acting for Tata Steel in the mid-noughties, in connection with its investment in ASX-listed Riversdale Mining and the underlying Mozambique coal joint venture. I spent a considerable amount of time in India and built relationships with a number of corporates considering assets in Australia, Indonesia, Africa and elsewhere in the world. Following our merger with Herbert Smith, which has the leading India practice of all international firms, I was asked to sit on the global India Executive. One rationale for my move to Singapore was to be closer to our Indian client base.

What has been a major career highlight for you?

About five years ago I was acting for a large client looking to exit a multi-party joint venture in Indonesia. The timeframes were extremely tight and the issues were complicated. The final negotiations took place in Singapore, Jakarta and elsewhere for nearly four days straight, during which time the negotiating principals and lawyers had little or no sleep. It was a highlight of sorts because of the intensity. However, the true highlight for me was to be involved in a business-critical deal, to understand the strategic importance for the client, and for our team to have been able find solutions in such crazy timeframes. The client was incredibly grateful and I was made a partner shortly after.

What do you like about being a lawyer?

Being a lawyer is an exercise in curiosity. You need to ask the next question, to look for gaps in logic and find solutions. I enjoy those intellectual and commercial challenges.

What do you find challenging?

Constant travelling. My trips from Sydney to Mumbai, for example, would take a day and a half each way. For a Monday morning meeting, I needed to leave Sydney at midday on Saturday. This was another reason for basing myself in Singapore, which is wonderfully central.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?

Spending time with my family. I have young children and I cherish the time I spend with them.

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