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What's it like to work as Legal Counsel at EDF?

Posted January 30, 2022

Our Legal Counsels support all areas of the EDF business, from our construction and generation teams, to our corporate and customer-facing teams. Here, Emma Brown, Jo Ryan-Smith, Ben Sealy, Abby Lloyd and Jack Baumgardt share their experience with us…

What attracted you to the energy sector and, specifically, EDF?

Jo: I fell into the energy industry when construction work dried up in all other sectors following the credit crunch.  It felt meaningful to work in renewables and nuclear, and I joined EDF for the opportunity to work at Hinkley Point C, the biggest construction project in Europe.

Jack: It’s a crucial and interesting industry in so many respects. It's a key part of dealing with climate change, a global challenge, and it’s also important in the short term for everyone’s day to day lives – keeping the lights and heating on isn’t optional. There are a huge variety of projects to work on; the challenges facing the nuclear fleet are very different from those facing thermal assets, or renewables projects. It’s also an industry facing a lot of change and innovation – it isn’t stagnant or boring, which always keeps things interesting!

Emma: It’s an industry which is constantly changing, particularly in light of COP26 and other recent developments with regard to how we approach the climate crisis. It's an exciting industry to be a part of and, because of it’s dynamic nature, drives professional and personal development. 

Having worked in private practice for a few years, I was ready to make the move in-house but wanted to do so with a prestigious and well-known company. EDF was an ideal choice. I was also keen to be part of a business whose values are aligned with my own, so EDF’s commitment to Net Zero is something that is very important to me.

How is your experience at EDF helping you develop your legal career?

Jo: We have a lot of external panel firms who are always keen to give us training, which they’re happy to tailor to our specific needs. So it's really easy to access training to learn new things or get a refresher.

Abby: I've been given a great deal of responsibility for this stage in my career, which I'm grateful for, but also offered the support needed to make the most of that responsibility. I've been able to truly think about the impact that the documents have on the business which I was not able to do in my previous job.

Jack: I’ve been given the opportunity to work on some significant projects which I don’t think I could have done yet in private practice. You also get a real breadth of legal issues to work on and my day to day varies hugely. Whatever legal area you're interested in, there will almost certainly be a big project influenced by it which you can get involved with.

It's demanding and complex work. I feel if I can work on these projects I can work anywhere.

Jo Ryan-Smith, Legal Counsel, Construction

Getting the balance right

Ben: Whilst we work hard to provide quality and timely advice to the business, there's an understanding that we all have commitments outside of work (family, hobbies), and care is taken to ensure that workloads are manageable.

Jack: The team’s found a pretty natural balance of home and office working, which seems to benefit everyone – we have team time face to face for joint projects and meetings, but home time for detail work, which can help avoid interruptions!

Jo: I work part-time, and I’ve had both my children whilst working here. I’ve been very supported in that respect – even before COVID, I worked a day from home (hard to believe now that that was once a rare thing!)

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