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Rachael Opeagbe

Trainee Solicitor, Shipping

I joined HFW as a Team Administrator on the transactional floor in 2017 after completing the LPC. I was applying for vacation schemes and training contracts and after having been at the firm for just under a year, I was easily convinced and motivated to apply. HFW was unique to me, with its focus on 6 industry groups. The people and firm's culture were also a big pull.

I completed the two-week vacation scheme in summer of 2018 split between the Insurance and Shipping departments, carrying out research tasks and drafting on interesting cases. The cross-over and international nature between the two teams showed how the firm effectively comes together to assist clients across the departments. Accepting the training contract offer was a no brainer!

Whilst I waited for my training contract to start, I became a Paralegal in the Ship Finance team which was a great learning experience and included multiple trips to Paris and 48 hours in Doha hand-delivering pitch documents (which the team won and are still working on today). Fast forward to March 2021 (after getting through a global pandemic!) I started my training contract. My first seat was in the Re/Insurance team where I notably worked on a half a billion dollar claim for damages caused during an alleged "political uprising". I learnt a lot sitting in on the mediations.

My second seat was in Dubai, sitting in the Shipping team. Considering the impact of Covid-19, it was a relief when the international secondments were back up and running. I worked on a number of charterparty disputes, which included drafting letters of demand, notices of arbitration and witness statements. I also worked on transactional cases, mostly sale and purchase matters. The weather in Dubai was a welcomed change from rainy London. There was so much going on in Dubai with EXPO 2020 and the 'Year of the 50th'. In the first 4 weeks, I went to a jungle themed brunch with 20 trainees from other law firms who were also on secondment, drinks at CE LA VIE, a boat party and went to the Burj Khalifa.

I'm currently coming to end of my third seat in the Ship Finance team in London. The majority of my work consists of drafting financing and security documents, liaising with ship registries in respect of mortgage registrations and releases, and running closing meetings. I look forward to my final seat in the Shipping Litigation team in London.

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