Picture of Charles Hayes, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to illustrate The Lawyer Hot 100 Career Quiz with Charlie Hayes, Freshfields careerName: Charlie Hayes

Firm: Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Position: Partner

Trained at: Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

In Hot 100 for: Developing significant relationships as a rising star in Freshfields’ corporate department. Read his full profile here.

What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?

Being sent to Doncaster early one Saturday morning, I was to take a board through a section 155 Companies Act 1985 financial assistance whitewash and the statutory declarations. It was the only time they could find to be sure of everyone’s full attention!

My supervisor was on the phone, but the line was pretty bad (and trainees barely had mobile phones) so I ended up pretty much running the meeting myself, which was an amazing thing to do as a trainee, really. I’m not sure whether a trainee would get that degree of responsibility now as a matter of course. I hope so.

Who has been the most influential person in your career? Why, and how have they helped you?

Without a doubt, Chris Bown (formerly Freshfields, now CVC). Not only is he a phenomenal practitioner whom I learned a lot from as an associate (and continue to as a partner). But he has also had a huge impact on my view of what the practice of law should look like. There are many others who’ve helped me along the way and given me guidance. And quite a few of them are peers, which is the best bit about it.

What was the best career decision you ever made, and why?

Spending a few years in our Middle East offices, based in Dubai, was a great experience. We didn’t have the name in the region and market standing that we have now, and the business was in start-up mode and growing fast. It was exhilarating to be part of that. Without the brand recognition we had elsewhere, I learned a lot from Bruce Embley and Paddy Ko in particular, but others too, about how you get your message across to clients. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?

Stick with it and find the opportunities in everything you do. At its best, the law is a fabulous career that gives you the ultimate backstage pass to some of the most exciting developments in the business world. I initially thought law would be a short cut into investment banking – cutting out the analyst years – but being honest with myself I realised I loved being a lawyer, and ended up sticking with it for all of its challenges.

What work or career-related project or activity would you really like to do, but don’t have time for?

I’d love to spend more time thinking about the law firm of the future, in particular how legal services will need to evolve to serve our millennial clients, and in turn what the whole business will need to look like to appeal to another generation. I think it’s going to be fascinating.