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Freshfields’ Jennifer Bethlehem (scroll down for video interview) is not a run-of-the-mill corporate partner. To start with, she is the relationship partner for key clients such as Goldman Sachs, Rolls-Royce and Novartis.
And she was a trauma nurse for a decade before deciding to become a solicitor. She then funded her law degree while working with women with breast cancer. She admits: “I did the degree full-time, but I also worked full-time while doing my law degree.” She laughs off this achievement, saying: “It’s not so difficult when you’re older.”
Her interest in health issues has helped her in the important role as relationship partner for healthcare company Novartis. “For me, the development of the Novartis relationship has been a highlight and that’s definitely been strengthened in the past year in the deals I did for them,” she says.
“The number of M&A mandates that we’ve received and developing the relationship to be wider than that into other practice areas, such as cross-border IP and dispute resolution, and countries has also been hugely satisfying.”
As if that wasn’t enough, Bethlehem is team leader and HR partner for her group. She says: “It’s hugely rewarding and it’s the thing that gives me the most personal satisfaction: developing people’s careers and really helping them to think strategically about what they’re doing and when they’re doing it. That is always a highlight for me.”
Not one to seek the limelight, Bethlehem is nevertheless an inspiration to all who work with her.