Michelle is a Legal Director in the Construction & Engineering Team, having qualified as a solicitor in 2004. 

Until 2017, she worked directly on clients’ projects, giving practical and commercial legal advice on a wide range of projects – from renewable energy (on and offshore wind, solar, wave, tidal, and biomass/waste to energy), to engineering infrastructure (rail, bridge, and road), to commercial developments (new builds, refurbishments, and town centre re-developments). Her clients included developers, local authorities and public bodies, landlords and tenants, funders, contractors and consultants. 

Since then, in her Practice Development Lawyer role, Michelle has been responsible for our Construction & Engineering Team's legal and commercial knowledge, leading on technology and innovation, and growing the firm’s practice.

Using her technical legal expertise and commercial prowess, she supports our key clients, delivers well-received training, organises our successful industry conferences, and actively connects different parts of our business. Her valuable insights are regularly published in the industry press, on topics ranging from building safety to ESG.

A keystone of information, she keeps her team well on top of legal and industry changes and trends, drives efficiencies, establishes best practice, is immersed in our business and marketing strategies, and is engaged in a number of firmwide initiatives.

Michelle founded and leads our WBD Disability Network, instigating changes in policy and practice across the firm. She is also a WBD Environmental Representative.


Examples of experience include advising on:

  • Several onshore wind farm projects throughout England and Scotland, with varying numbers of turbines (both with and without bank financing)
  • large offshore wind farm project off the coast of England
  • Several other renewable energy projects including a wave energy project in England, a tidal energy project in Wales, a food-based waste to energy project in the South West, and one of the first solar energy projects in England
  • An engineering project involving the relocation/reconstruction of railway infrastructure in Wales
  • The new builds and refurbishments of commercial properties around the UK for a well-known commercial tenant
  • wide range of contracts such as JCT, FIDIC, MF/1, ICE, LOGIC, NEC, ACE, GC/Works, Beama and RIBA.

“Michelle Essen does a great deal of work on energy and engineering projects. She is praised by market observers for being a hard-working ‘efficient and pleasant’ construction practitioner”.


Chambers and Partners