Alumni Spotlight: Marie-Hélène Farrelly (2007-2015; London)

March 25, 2021

To celebrate Cleary Gottlieb’s 75th anniversary, alumni around the globe are taking time to reflect on their experiences at the firm.

Marie-Hélène Farrelly, Associate General Counsel at HSBC in Hong Kong, shared her thoughts below.

What lessons did you learn at Cleary that prepared you for your future career?

Patience – with clients, with colleagues. I had the privilege of working with many patient and understanding colleagues, who gave me the opportunity to learn on the job in a kind and respectful way and who taught me how to handle multiple stakeholders with different backgrounds and experiences to my own. This is very important to be successful in a global financial institution where you often work in a very diverse environment and navigate a complex stakeholder matrix.

I also learned the importance of getting the law right. Cleary lawyers are (generally) known for being technically strong (slightly academic, some say!). But it is important to remember that you need to get the “basics” right and be rigorous in your thought process (legal or otherwise), to be successful regardless of your career.

What Cleary person and/or experience had a lasting impact on you personally?

My experience on a major Russian M&A transaction in 2013 has had a lasting impact on me personally. Exposure to some of the internal and external individuals involved gave me the opportunity to test my resilience in the face of adversity, and to learn to adjust my expectations of others. It strengthened my character and taught me to stand up for myself, which is a key life skill.

Why do you participate in the alumni network, and what would you say to someone who is considering getting involved?

I enjoy the opportunity it provides to keep in contact with old colleagues with whom I would otherwise lose touch, and to meet a network of other people at times similarly minded but pretty much always interesting, challenging and good fun. I would recommend to someone who is considering getting involved to attend a couple of events (maybe with some ex-colleague friends at the beginning so you initially have some familiar faces) – not much to lose!

To learn more about Cleary’s global alumni network, click here.