Herbert Smith Freehills head of power and renewables quits to join key client EDF

Herbert Smith Freehills’ (HSF) head of power and renewables Julia Pyke has left to become French energy giant EDF’s general counsel for nuclear new build businesses.

Pyke, who left the partnership in June, was at HSF for more than 15 years. During that time, she was one of the lead advisers on EDF’s controversial £18bn nuclear project, Hinkley Point C.

Energy and infrastructure finance transaction partner Matthew Job will take over her role.

HSF advised EDF alongside Pinsent Masons on securing consent to build and operate the nuclear power station.

Pyke played a key role on the project alongside planning partner Matthew White, who led a team of 30 lawyers advising EDF on the project. The HSF team worked closely with current EDF nuclear head of legal Chris Hamill.

Pyke was also part of the HSF team advising on the controversial HS2 rail project, providing infrastructure, construction and rolling stock advice to HS2 Limited on what will become the first new railway north of London in 120 years.

She also played an instrumental role in drafting HSF’s flexible working policy.

HSF senior partner James Palmer said: “I am happy to say Julia is a brilliant lawyer and has been a great colleague. While we are sorry she is moving, we are delighted that it is to such an important client. We wish her great success, which we know she will achieve.”

HSF is one of five firms to sit on EDF’s nuclear legal panel and one of seven firms to sit on its wider legal panel.

News of Pyke’s exit follows a number of departures from HSF’s energy practice. In June this year, co-head of energy Anna Howell joined US firm Gibson Dunn in London. Her departure made her the second co-head of energy to resign from HSF in London in roughly six months, after high-profile partner John Balsdon left for Latham & Watkins in December last year.