Interviewed by Abby Ghercea
Meet our WTP7 Talent, Eve Huchon, M&A and Corporate Counsel at Osborne Clarke. In this interview, Eve talks about why she embarked on an international career, the importance of great teams, and how she measures success.
You joined Osborne Clarke in 2014 and were promoted to Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) and Corporate Counsel last year. Congratulations! Can you elaborate on how you have reached your current position? What initially drew you to pursue a career in law?
I deserve to be where I am. I got to where I am because I'm very committed, available, and adaptable. It’s also thanks to my parents to some extent, because they set high standards. They didn’t put pressure on us to go in a particular direction but told us that with hard work we could achieve anything we wanted to. This explains why I'm so committed to working hard and getting to where I want. I believe that the sky is the limit!
I am also very lucky to work for an organisation, Osborne Clarke, that in France at least is very different from other law firms, particularly when it comes to gender equality at all levels. Close to 50% of our Partners are women. When I was promoted to counsel, three out of four people promoted were women. The strong team spirit at Osborne Clarke is also important to me. My colleagues and I are aware that it takes a village to succeed: we cannot do it alone. It's about committing to the team, committing to the clients, and showing that you care.
I originally wanted to study law because, when I was younger, I was a bit of an idealist. I wanted to save the world. My initial idea was to become a children's judge, but very quickly I realised that was not for me because I knew that I would get too emotionally involved. During my time studying law I saw how varied and interesting it is, and I discovered my passion for an area that I wanted to keep up with. The mergers and acquisition world was a perfect fit for me because it combined everything that I loved about law. What we do is very pragmatic, and you can have an impact, no matter how small. It has been humbling to know when I have worked on certain files that, if I manage to close deals, people’s jobs will be saved. Little grains of sand make a desert. It is a small contribution, but it matters.
It has been humbling to know when I have worked on certain files that, if I manage to close deals, people’s jobs will be saved. Little grains of sand make a desert. It is a small contribution, but it matters.
You currently advise French and international clients on many different investment-related operations. What do you enjoy most about your job, and are there any aspects that you find particularly interesting to work on?
Working for international clients is like intellectual gymnastics because their needs vary depending on where they are from and the kind of organisation they represent. It is not only their legal culture but also their work culture, where they have been and what they are used to. I constantly need to adapt and present solutions that are going to work for them in their jurisdiction and based on their experience. Finding solutions for them is challenging, interesting, and rewarding. My job demands precision; it requires going into detail and identifying how solutions can be found.
I enjoy brainstorming with teammates, even from other fields of law, because what I practice cannot be done alone. This means people who are in my organisation, but also the team built to find a solution for the client. We get in there and find solutions together and then pick what will work for them. In our line of work, we engage with so many different profiles that we always need to adapt, and this is a very interesting aspect of my job.
In your position, you intervene in both counseling and litigation. What does this involve exactly? According to you, what different skill sets allow you to be successful in each form of intervention, and how do these skill sets overlap?
Counseling is mostly about giving advice, and that includes negotiating contracts or settlement agreements for clients. We do a lot of structuring work and work with the firm and client teams, but also commercial teams, IT teams, and whatever is needed. As a team, we work to find solutions to save costs, facilitate an acquisition, or facilitate an integration or separation. Everything must be completed within a short time frame. There is a lot of pressure and learning to cope with this pressure is a big part of the job, as well as relying on your teammates and helping them. It is important to trust people, to delegate, and to check in.
In litigation, these same skills are necessary. However, the approach needs to be quite different because in this case you are not talking to a client, you are talking to a judge, so you don’t build your arguments the same way. You can convince the judge with five or seven arguments in your brief, which you would not do with a client because you must provide the best one. You cannot adapt to the judge because you don’t know them. Litigation is also more demanding in terms of organisation because cases can be spread out over long periods of time. It can take months to be able to file briefs and sometimes years to get a decision, which can then be appealed. It is important to have a very good memory because you need to be able to pick up a case that you haven't touched in months, sometimes years.
The ability to work in a team is also key. Your teammates are there for you and support you during the difficult moments. We also have fun together; this is one of the reasons we do what we do, to enjoy it. Teams work best where they bring together people from different backgrounds, because that way you can make sure to bring in different perspectives.
You have studied in the United States and France and were admitted to practice in the state of New York in the US and France. How has this international experience shaped both your career and you personally? Where did this interest in gaining international experience come from?
I was interested in working on international matters because of the way I was brought up. I was also very curious. I had cousins who lived in the United States, and I travelled a lot with my family when I was younger. My parents spoke a bit of English and Spanish and my grandpa spoke 13 languages and dialects. I had good grades in English at school which allowed me to do a double degree in law and to study in the US. I have worked for companies and firms of various sizes in various sectors, but I have always picked ones where I knew I could use English because it was important to me.
Working in an international field is eye-opening because you meet people from all over. You learn about lifestyles, cultures, working practices, the need to adapt, and the need to put yourself in other people's shoes, and to see things from different perspectives. You learn that adapting is a skill that you must have when working on international files with international clients. The ability to see things from other people’s point of view is so important for successfully managing international files.
This experience shaped my professional life, but also shaped my personal life because I met my husband in the US, and I'm now raising my son as bilingual!
Working in an international field is eye-opening because you meet people from all over. You learn about lifestyles, cultures, working practices, the need to adapt, and the need to put yourself in other people's shoes, and to see things from different perspectives.
We are delighted that you are a participant in the 7th edition of the Women Talent Pool (WTP) leadership programme. Why did this feel like the right time to participate? What takeaways do you have from the programme?
I contributed to WIL’s work at the very early stages on some corporate matters. Over the years I followed the organisation from afar and when Osborne Clarke offered me the opportunity to join the WTP, I was thrilled because I knew it would be an amazing experience, and it was the right timing because I had just been promoted to counsel.
Being part of WIL is a very good way to learn how to cooperate, build teams, and make sure that people will follow you for the right reasons. It strengthened my will and my commitment to become the best manager and leader I can be. Having someone by your side to support you brings a great deal. It can be helpful to reach out and say, “Nobody taught me this, so maybe I need some help.” It is certainly not a weakness to do so.
We like to end the interview with a question from the Proust Questionnaire. The question we have selected for you is this: What is your greatest achievement, either personally or professionally (or both)?
I don't rank my achievements. I know what's good and what's not and I have never had this mindset. I'm competitive with myself and I like being the best at what I do, but not necessarily as compared to others. It's very difficult to rank professional or personal experience because there's so many things that I’d consider success even if others would not see it as such. For me, it's really a matter of how you measure your own success and not how others see it. Something that is huge for me is when a key client of the firm reaches out to me directly, instead of going through the usual channel, meaning, though a Partner, to ask for help. It means that I have done the job well and that I have earned their trust.
It's really a matter of how you measure your own success and not how others see it.
Video edited by Marella Ricketts