National Power lawyers get snapped up

Companies in the South West have reaped the rewards of the in-house fallout that followed National Power’s decision to demerge to become International Power and Innogy.

Only two lawyers from the original National Power international team chose to relocate from Swindon to London with International Power. Four took severance terms and have now taken up new positions.

Claire Carless, former manager of National Power’s international legal group, has joined Vodafone Group in Newbury after eight years with National Power. Vodafone’s in-house legal department has been restructured following its hostile takeover of Mannesmann. Carless joins the European legal team, which has lawyers based in Newbury and Düsseldorf.

She says: “Telecoms is an exciting industry sector to be in at the moment. Both the industry and Vodafone are growing very fast.”

Carless joined National Power from Stephenson Harwood shortly after its privatisation and worked on the first project that National Power won on a competitive tender.

She says: “We started doing international work in-house, which hadn’t been done before. I learned a huge amount about the power industry. I joined as a corporate lawyer but became more of a projects lawyer. I met a lot of talented and very fun people so I was sorry to leave.”

Carless was responsible for demerger work until July. She chose to take severance terms and look elsewhere in order to maintain a balance between work and family life. She considered moving back into private practice before opting to join Vodafone.

Her colleague Martin Heath also wanted to stay in the area, and has joined Siemens at its Bracknell office. Heath qualified with National Power and worked for the energy company for 10 years.

Heath says: “The experience of working for National Power from the beginning, as it went from being the central electricity generating board through to being a privatised entity was extremely interesting.”

He adds: “I am very pleased with my move to Siemens. The company is interested in power generation but it also works across a broader spectrum.”

Elisabeth Gates, another member of the international team, has joined BT in Swindon, while Robert Laddle is the only member of the team to return to private practice by joining Burges Salmon.

Laddle says: “It was a good time to do something different. I have no regrets. I got very good commercial experience.”