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Get to know Christy Mellifont, Senior Associate and recent DACB secondee

In our next Q&A, we get to know Senior Associate and Financial Lines specialist Christy Mellifont who has recently returned to W+K  in Melbourne following a two year secondment with our Legalign Global partner, DAC Beachcroft.

How did the opportunity to go on secondment to DAC Beachcroft in London come up?

Soon after Wotton + Kearney announced the Legalign partnership, I approached the partners in my team about opportunities to work in London. Initially, my secondment with DAC Beachcroft was going to be for 12 months – the first 6 months to be spent with our mutual client, and the second 6 months with DAC Beachcroft. I’m very happy we extended my secondment to 2 years, which allowed me to spend more time with the Professional & Financial Lines Team in London.

Tell us about your UK journey – any highlights?

My time in the UK was incredibly rewarding. My secondment with a major global insurer was a highlight as it provided a insight into the London market and how it operates. At DAC Beachcroft, I enjoyed working just blocks from Tower Bridge, Leadenhall Market and the Lloyds building. I also enjoyed presenting to clients on aspects of Australian law.

Were there any major differences as a lawyer that you had to adjust to?

The transition to practising in the UK was easier than I anticipated, as the substantive law is very similar. Working in litigation, the procedures are a little different and it keeps me on my toes. Perhaps most importantly, the culture of the London PFL team reminded me strongly of my Melbourne team and I felt how closely aligned the firms are in their values.

Do you feel better connected to clients as part of W+K’s Legalign Global alliance?

The chance to have met London-based clients was invaluable. W+K has a strong reputation with insurers in London and they’ve been very welcoming to me as a result. I formed relationships with a number of clients who instruct W+K in Australia and I felt the opportunity raised my profile individually, as well for the firm. Clients were particularly receptive to the idea that Legalign is not simply a partnership on paper, but we personally know other lawyers in the network and can call on our Legalign colleagues to assist our clients when needed.

Do you feel that you have grown as a lawyer from this opportunity?

I’ve certainly grown as a lawyer as a result of this secondment. I’ve experienced different approaches to legal problems and gained a new perspective on Australian practices. In particular, I enjoyed learning about cyber and data protection insurance which is an anticipated area of growth in Australia. I’m excited to bring my new skills to W+K in Melbourne.

Where was a favourite place in London to visit?

London is such an exciting city, it’s hard to pick my favourite part of living there. I loved visiting the galleries and museums; where I lived in East London, there were amazing Turkish and Middle Eastern restaurants and grocers. The proximity to Europe is obviously another big drawcard – It was so easy to travel to Paris or Barcelona for a weekend.

What advice would you give other lawyers thinking of going on a global secondment?

When embarking on a global secondment, I think it’s important to be clear about what you want to get out of the experience so that the secondment can be tailored for you. It can be a great opportunity to develop client relationships, experience another aspect of insurance law, or get to know your Legalign colleagues.

What is it like being back in Australia and at W+K?

I’m really enjoying being back in Australia and at W+K. While I’ve been away, the firm has developed and grown in exciting ways. I’m looking forward to seeing where we go next.

© Wotton + Kearney 2020
This publication is intended to provide commentary and general information. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this publication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all states and territories.
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