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Former Dechert associate treks to South Pole  |  Featured practice: global finance

Former Dechert associate Lucy Reynolds treks to the South Pole

"I suppose it’s quite a big thing for a normal person to do," says Lucy Reynolds. "I’ve been on some adventures – but nothing like this." In November, Lucy will embark on a grueling guided two-month trek to the South Pole, in an expedition that is as far away from the world of financial services as one can imagine.

Lucy was a Dechert associate in the London office, with stints in Munich and New York, between 2003 and 2010, specializing in hedge funds, UCITS and exchange-traded products (ETPs). One of her jobs was helping to establish ETF Securities, a Channel Islands-based asset manager, and she ultimately joined them becoming Head of Product Development.

In 2017 ETF Securities was acquired by WisdomTree, a New York-based asset manager where Lucy was European Head of Product Management.

While not the natural background for someone trekking to the South Pole, Lucy credits her time at Dechert and ETF Securities in helping build her resilience and problem-solving skills, which are key qualities required for an undertaking like this.

She is currently in the middle of a three-month training program in the UK, having previously undergone Polar Expedition training on the Hardangervidda mountain plateau in Norway. In November Lucy first heads to Chile to organize her food and equipment and then it is off to the world’s largest desert.

"After a brief stay at Union Glacier Camp," she explains, "we’ll fly to Hercules Inlet which is on the land coast of Antarctica and then it’s a 700-mile journey to the South Pole, over the course of two months." Skiing will be for eight hours a day, with occasional 10-minute breaks, picking up supplies that are air-dropped en route. "We leave around November 20, ski over Christmas and New Year, and should reach the South Pole in the middle of January."

When she started her training, Lucy had understandable misgivings.

"I thought to myself, either I will love this or hate it. Actually I loved it, and after my first ten days’ training I just wanted to do more." Her original intention was to kite-ski back from the Pole, but she seriously injured her knee kite-skiing in Norway in April 2017, and had to postpone the trip for two years. Now she has abandoned the idea of kite-skiing, and will be picked up by a plane to be returned to Union Glacier Camp – "It is my first time out there so I am not trying to break any records or do anything new, I just want to enjoy the experience."

The hazards of a polar expedition are obvious: frostbite, exhaustion, falling into a crevasse. The ambient temperature drops to minus 20, and with wind chill it can easily get down to minus 50, and in a polar summer there is no day or night, just 24-hour daylight. This is surprisingly hard for your body, which needs routine. But for Lucy the hardest part is the mental challenge: "You’re by yourself a lot, not really talking to anybody for long periods of time. So once you get over the physical challenge, that mental challenge is arguably more difficult."

The logistics and focus needed for this expedition are huge, and at the moment Lucy is concentrating only on achieving her goal of reaching the Pole.

When the trip is finished, Lucy intends to take some recovery time and then think about returning to work. "WisdomTree, who were very supportive, did offer me a sabbatical, but I decided to resign because I didn’t think I could give both the training and work the attention they deserved. I might go back to ETPs, or I might try something different. I haven’t decided yet."

Find out more about Lucy's trip.

Featured practice: global finance


Global finance is a cross-practice, cross-discipline effort, bringing together more than 150 lawyers and fee earners from specialized areas in our FRE, C&S and FS groups – including commercial real estate lending, collateralized loan obligations, commercial mortgage-backed securitization, asset-backed securitization, and leveraged finance lawyers working on the finance side of private equity transactions.

By building teams based around key clients (including Blackstone, Ares and Barclays) and forging greater interaction between partners, the Global Finance brand helps to join up lawyers across territories and skill sets, create new opportunities, and present a more cohesive picture to clients of Dechert’s finance capabilities.

“Our global ambition is to be capable of executing finance transactions and acting anywhere in the world. This vision infuses everything we do,” says Rick Jones, co-head of Dechert’s FRE practice alongside Dave Forti and part of the leadership of what Dechert clients are getting to know as our Global Finance practice.

This approach is also earning the firm industry recognition - most recently, Dechert’s excellence and innovation in the U.S. securitization market was recognized when the firm was named “CLO Law Firm of the Year” at GlobalCapital’s U.S. Securitization Awards 2019.