Alumni News

Catch up on the latest news from our alumni community

We love to celebrate the successes of our alumni community. If you have started a new position, won an award or achieved something special, please let us know. Email our alumni team to share your news.

Achievements and appointments

Congratulations to our alumni on their recent achievements and new appointments.

Menndez Mara Jos

Congratulations to Ashurst Board member, María José Menéndez on the publication of her second novel Juegos Malabares (Juggling Games).

Juegos Malabares questions contemporary society and human relations in the context of a capitalist system through a protagonist who breaks family ties and ends up as a squatter.

María José, how does it feel to have your second novel published?

It is a very refreshing and fun experience. As a kid I was fascinated by the idea of writing literary books; so, having published my two novels is an achievement towards that challenge. But this second time I have also come closer to experiencing a writer's life (with presentations, some interviews, signing books at the Madrid book fair, etc). It is so different to our ordinary "lawyers" environment that it almost feels like venturing into a totally new (double!) life. Then readers tell you about what they felt as they read the book, if they liked it, if they identified themselves with any characters or ideas, of if they did not like it and why! These are very gratifying, interesting and colourful conversations.

How do you find the time to write?

As I only do it in my spare time, I take a lot of time to write each book; typically I make progress during holiday periods and then slow the process down, or stop it altogether, for long periods of time. For instance, "Juegos Malabares" was incepted in 2013, when I finished the previous book; in the summer of 2021 I took a sabbatical, looked in my files and the pieces of the novel that I had already written had remained untouched since 2017… I gave it a big push during my sabbatical period and by the end of the summer I had finished it. But, more generally, I write small pieces of text every time I set myself to write, as I cannot spend a lot of time on it, so my novels are put together a bit like a mosaic.

Do you have any other writing projects in the pipeline at the moment?

The basic embryo of another story is starting to develop in my mind, but it is still very very early days.

Where can alumni purchase a copy of Juegos Malabares?

Unfortunately it has not been translated into any non-Spanish languages (yet!), and it is only distributed in Spain (and I think it might be found in some LatAm countries too). But it is available on Amazon, if anyone elsewhere wants to give it a go! Many thanks!!

Alison Campbell

Alison Campbell (London Solicitor until 2004) re-joined JP Morgan in March. Alison had previously been Head of EMEA Regional Governance at JP Morgan before taking up the Regional Company Secretary Europe role at HSBC in 2021. She re-joined JP Morgan earlier this year as Head of Governance and Controls, Global Securities Services Operations.

Alison, what attracted you to your new role?

Moving from being a regional Company Secretary to being responsible for the global controls framework around an Operations team of some 8000 people is not the most obvious move, for sure.

When leaving my last role, my CEO described it as "a leap from Board room to boiler room". I must agree with this prosaic summary! I was approached for this role to bring a perspective into the organisation that is usually not prevalent on the day-to-day, which is understanding the needs and expectations of senior management in overseeing operational risk.

Having spent a sizeable amount of my time as a Company Secretary reviewing resolution and recovery planning and reviewing regulatory responses on operational resilience regulations, it allows me a different and complementary perspective on risks and errors to those of colleagues who have been in Operations for most of their careers. I am 5 months in and really starting to piece the puzzle together, top to bottom. Which was the main attraction of the move.

Tahlia Petrosian - image by Gert Mothes
[Image by Gert Mothes]

Delighted to share news about a member of our alumni community 'Outpacing Change' in the world of classical music!

The very talented @Thalia Petrosian (Sydney Graduate, 2007) formed KLASSIK underground in 2016, a bold project that fuses classical music with 21st-century urban nightlife.

Tahlia will be performing with KLASSIK underground at Illuminate with musicians from Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra at the Melbourne Recital Centre on 4 August 2023 and at The Neilson, Pier 2/3 for ACO Up Close on 5 August 2023.

Tickets can be purchased from the venues above.

Melissa Bice

Congratulations to Melissa Bice (Brisbane Senior Associate – Environment and Development until 2014) who was recently promoted to Head of Legal at electricity infrastructure company, Essential Energy.

What excites you most about this role?

At Essential Energy we look after the poles and wires that deliver electricity to 95% of NSW and parts of southern Queensland (powering around 840,000 homes in regional, rural and remote areas). Electricity distribution networks are playing a key role as the energy transition gathers pace whilst also facing the challenges of extreme weather events. As Head of Legal, it is a privilege to assist the business in working through the complex legal and regulatory challenges of enabling a distribution network of the future, in line with customer expectations for a reliable and resilient energy network as the industry transitions to net zero.

Do you have any advice for lawyers looking to move in-house?

I found the biggest difference between private and in-house practice is the wider lens through which advice is delivered in-house. This requires getting to know your stakeholders, your business and industry extremely well and being able to deliver commercially astute advice across a very wide range of issues. For lawyers looking to move in-house, my advice is to develop specific industry expertise and knowledge of emerging trends facing the business you want to work with, and build solid relationships with experts and leaders in your chosen field.

Sean Keaton

Sean Keaton (Canberra & Melbourne, Government and Commercial Solicitor until 1996) has recently taken the role of Head of Legal at Neom, the sustainable megacity development in northwest Saudi Arabia.

Sean, please tell us a bit about your latest role at Neom?

My role is to lead a team of internal and external lawyers to draft a complete set of founding laws to establish Neom as an entity. Our focus is to provide the most business friendly, most environmental friendly and most lovable community anywhere in the world. NEOM’s ambition is staggering.

What will your biggest challenges be in 2023?

The biggest challenge we have this year is to have our establishment law passed by the King. We hope to have this passed for the opening of the first attraction in NEOM; Sindalah Island.

Do you have any advice for lawyers looking to move in-house?

My advice to lawyers looking to move in-house - the experience is extremely rewarding but quite different. You are doing leas pure legal work and quite a bit more stakeholder management. It is definitely true to say that you are able to get a lot closer to the business. I have experienced being in the receiving end of external advice; the good, the bad and the ugly. Key to being effective in house is developing both internal and external relations. The relationship between in-house and external counsel is very important and is to be nurtured. Resist the urge to treat your external lawyers as badly as perhaps you may have been treated in the past!

Gloria Lakati

Gloria Lakati (Port Moresby Litigation Lawyer until 2018) was recently promoted to the role of Senior Lawyer at Steamships Trading Company Ltd.

Congratulations Gloria! Please tell us a bit about your role at Steamships Trading Company Ltd.

For my role as a Senior Lawyer, I provide support to the company's Group Legal Counsel primarily in the disputes practice within the Steamships Legal Division. The Steamships Group is the largest conglomerate in Papua New Guinea trading in the areas of hotels, logistics and properties. As an in-house disputes lawyer for a large company operating in a volatile market like PNG, my team and I are at the forefront of every disputes with relevant stakeholders. This requires onsite immediate action for urgent matters, a good understanding of the law and procedures and the ability to act fast yet remain calm under pressure. My team and I administer proceedings on an array of matters for the company and are the first line of legal defense for any claims against the company.

What is the most challenging aspect of your role?

There are many challenges but the two that stands out for me would be:

  • Problem-solving and result oriented rather than focused on going to court for every single dispute matter. Understanding that the internal client is not in the business of "going to court" all the time unless it is absolutely necessary.
  • Constantly finding ways in which my disputes background can help the company manage legal risks and potential exposures at a high level.

Do you have any advice for lawyers looking to move in-house?

Have a ''growth mindset". Be open to learn and willing to take on new challenges that comes with the type of business your internal client does.

Other news

Ian Scott

Former London partner, Ian Scott passed away on 19 June 2023.  His Ashurst friends remember him here.

Read more

Diane Gates

Ashurst CMO, Diane Gates talks about the origins of the new Ashurst brand - Outpacing Change.

Read more

Lisa de Marco

Former Melbourne Senior Expertise Lawyer Lisa tells us about her career pivot to Ashurst Reach Consultant.

Read more

Two men shaking hands sitting on side of moored yacht

London partner Cameron Smith and British yachtsman James Harayda discuss Ashurst's new partnership with the Gentoo Sailing Team.

Read more

Image of digital graph

Seventh consecutive year of growth – Ashurst announces FY23 financial results.

Read more

McLaren racing car

Ashurst and McLaren Group announce multi-year partnership extension.

Read more

Alumni contact