NATIONAL LAW firm Clayton Utz has set up a secondment relationship with a French law firm, and sent their first young lawyer from their Melbourne office.
Senior associate Sarah Varney, from the firm’s Banking & Finance group, is enjoying her taste of Parisian life and the chance to experience legal practice from a European perspective. She’s now mid-way through a six-month secondment with Paris-based Jeantet Associates.
Jeantet is one of France’s premier law firms, and specialises in long-term and equity financing operations and litigation.
Varney won the opportunity over a number of internal candidates, but if all goes well Clayton Utz plans to send young lawyers regularly to Paris, and to have Jeantet employees visit their offices in Australia.
A spokesman for the firm said that as France has a strong energy and resources interest in Australia and the firm has a strong energy and resources practice, the relationship was a “strong fit”.
Varney’s supervising partner Michael Tuckfield, who heads up the firm’s French Desk, said the exchange aims to enhance the opportunities for young lawyers from both firms to gain international experience.
“Not only will our secondee to Jeantet assist in the delivery of legal services to English clients or to French clients involved in transactions with English parties, they will also assist in the development of opportunities for new business,” said Tuckfield. “Similarly, the Jeantet secondee to Clayton Utz will help us to look at new practice opportunities and in providing legal services to our French clients or Australian-based clients with interests in France.”
The secondee’s time will also be spent on activities including meeting with current and prospective clients and attending business-related events.
Varney has taken to her secondment with enthusiasm and has become used to rising at an hour when she would normally be arriving at her desk in Melbourne.
“The pattern of work here seems to be to start late and finish late,” she said. “People start between 9.30am and 10.30am and finish between, say, 8.30pm and 9.30pm. I’ve had to get used to eating dinner late but it still seems odd to be setting the alarm for 8.30am.”
Varney is currently exposed to a range of clients all over the world, including Togo and the Republic of Congo in Western Africa, Mauritania in Northern Africa, and the United States. She was also pleased to be able to assist her team in understanding Australian common law concepts for a matter for Macquarie Bank.