Solène Rowan

Solene RowanPlease write a bit about your background.

I grew up in Paris in a family that is originally from a combination of Brittany and Picardy. After my baccalaureate, keen to live abroad and discover the world, I moved to London to study law as an undergraduate. At first my English was so weak that I couldn’t follow the lectures (I distinctly recall wondering in my first public law lecture whether the references to ‘MPs’ had any relation to ‘petit pois’). My language skills improved when I met a British student who later became my husband. I went on to read the LLM at Cambridge where I also wrote my PhD. The travel bug has never left me and I have lived and worked in China, Japan and Australia. I have 3 young and lively children, Louis, Théodore, and Madeleine, as well as a cocker spaniel, Peluche.

What led you to a career in academia?

After my LLM, I spent 2 years working at Herbert Smith as a trainee solicitor. I found that the most interesting aspect of my work was research. At the same time, I was teaching French law at UCL and really enjoyed interacting with the students. Towards the end of my training contract, I put together a research proposal, which I sent to Professor John Bell, one of my former lecturers in Cambridge. He was happy to supervise my work and it all started from there.

What are your research interests and why have you chosen those particular areas?

My research is mainly in contract law and comparative law with a focus on the law of obligations in common law and Francophone civil law jurisdictions. These are fertile areas into which I fell naturally having studied law in England and France and being fluent in both English and French.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently finalising a book on French contract law entitled ‘The New French Law of Contract’, which I will publish with OUP. It analyses the recently overhauled section of the French Civil Code on contract law, in part through a comparative lens. I have also been working on several papers on punishment, abuse of rights and good faith in contract law.

A big chunk of my last few weeks has however been spent on a different kind of ‘work’. I recently returned to the UK from Australia, where I spent 3 years as a research fellow at the ANU. My time since then has been spent unpacking, settling the children into their new school and rediscovering the many idiosyncrasies of life in England.

What is your favourite thing to do in your spare time?

Being a full-time working mum of 3 dynamic children, the words ‘spare time’ have disappeared from my vocabulary. I have however created some time for myself by getting up every morning at 5:00am and taking the dog for a long walk. I love the tranquillity and seeing the first light of the day and the community waking around me. It is a moment to empty my mind or listen to a podcast. I especially enjoy an inspiring interview on Desert Island Discs. I arrive home feeling energised and ready to attack the day.

What is your favourite place to visit in the world?

My favourite place to visit in the world is Morecambe in Lancashire. Whilst perhaps not the most glamourous location, there is nothing like walking along the beach or the promenade, being battered by the wind from the Irish sea and taking in the stunning views of the bay and (on a clear day) the fells of the Lake District. And at the end of every long walk there is always a wonderful home-cooked meal prepared by my mother-in-law, as well as an endless supply of Prosecco and chocolates.

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