François Zimeray

Partner at law, registered at the Paris Bar

Associate holding at Doughty Street Chambers (London)

Lawyer registered at the International Criminal Court

French Ambassador in charge of Human Rights (2008-2013)

Educated at Paris-II Assas University and Paris Criminology Institute, François Zimeray was admitted to the Paris Bar in 1987 and practised for 20 years at the leading Paris law firm, Jeantet.

He has specialised in both international commercial and international human rights law. Practising before both national and international courts, including the International Criminal Court and the European Court of Human Rights, he has worked on a range of complex legal challenges, such as the Khmer Rouge genocide and child soldiers in DRC. François Zimeray has been Member of the International Criminal Bar, was admitted as expert in the French Institute for international legal experts (IFEJI) and founded in Paris the Alliance des Avocats pour les droits de l’Homme.

As a Member of the European Parliament, Francois Zimeray was particularly active in the Legal Affairs committee and took part in the preparatory debates on the European Charter of Fundamental Rights.

As the French Ambassador-at-large for Human Rights, Francois Zimeray became France’s highest ranking diplomat for human rights, a position he assumed over five years, serving two Presidents, and working directly with Bernard Kouchner, Alain Juppé and Laurent Fabius. As Ambassador, he conducted more than 100 field missions covering a wide range of human rights challenges (notably in Iraq, Libya, Colombia, DRC, and Sri-Lanka). His notable work included, drafting a Strategy for Human Rights for the French Government, which included cutting edge recommendations for business and human rights challenges; engaging actors on the Rana Plaza tragedy; and monitoring the trials of Khodorkovsky and Tymoshenko in Moscow and Ukraine respectively. Assigned by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alain Juppé, Francois collated evidence of war crimes committed by the Syrian regime. He represented France three times before the Human Rights Council (UPR) and co-presided sessions on child soldiers before the UN Security Council.

In 2013, François Zimeray was appointed Ambassador to Denmark. In this capacity, he developed bilateral trade and cultural relations and created the very first Human Right’s Prize of French Embassy, awarded by Robert Badinter. On 14 February 2015, soon after Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, he survived a bloody terror attack in Copenhagen. The shooting targeted a meeting where he took part in order to support cartoonists and human rights activists.

Working languages

French, English, Spanish


“J’ai vu partout le même visage”, an essay about universality of Human Rights (Plon, Paris 2016 and Gyldendal, Denmark 2015), Pierre-Simon-Thérèse Delpech award, ethics and geopolitics.
“The mayor and the legal protection of environment” (Paris, Litec 1994, foreword by Michel Barnier)


Les droits de l’homme peuvent-ils être une diplomatie ? (Revue des Deux Mondes, 2018)
La France face aux « barbares » (Politique Internationale n°136, 1992)
Protéger l’industrie française contre une concurrence aussi déloyale qu’immorale, c’est possible (Les Echos, 2013)
Les grands contrats ne sont pas les ennemis des droits de l’homme (Les Echos, 2010)


Knight of the Legion of Honour
Medal of the Paris Bar

Jessica Finelle

Partner at law, registered at the Paris Bar

Lawyer registered at the International Criminal Court

Educated at the Universities of Sorbonne and Oxford, Jessica Finelle was admitted to the Paris Bar in 2009.

Jessica Finelle practiced for eight years at the Paris law firm, FTMS, working with Pierre-Olivier Sur (the then President of the Paris Bar). Jessica specialised in complex criminal cases in France and abroad, representing both defendants and victims in the areas of cross-border crime, white-collar crime, international criminal law, terrorism, extradition, and human rights.

Before creating Zimeray & Finelle, she founded an independent practice in 2016.

As a Registered European Lawyer and present both in France and the United Kingdom, Jessica regularly collaborates with English solicitors and barristers whose clients are confronted with issues of French criminal law (national or transnational cases) or procedures of extradition in France. Jessica also represents clients in Francophone Africa and other foreign jurisdictions, and is on the list of counsels at the International Criminal Court.

Recent cases include:

  • Defence lawyer for the main opposition leader in Congo-Brazzaville, in a criminal trial of breach of national security and illegal detention of weapons;
  • Civil party lawyer for the opposition leader of Cambodia who was a victim of a grenade attack (in a lawsuit in Paris);
  • Civil party lawyer for Cambodian victims before the UN war crimes court (ECCC) set up to try the Khmers Rouge;
  • Defence lawyer for a (former) State Minister and son of former President of Senegal in a trial of corruption and illicit enrichment before Senegalese courts;
  • Defence lawyer for in an international terrorist case.

Working languages

French, English.


Member of the European Criminal Bar Association (ECBA)

Member of the Defence Extradition Lawyers Association (DELF)



Catalina de la Sota

Associate lawyer, member of the Paris Bar

Educated at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland, Georgetown University in the Unites States, and at the Sciences Po Law School, Catalina de la Sota joined the firm in August 2021.

Prior to embracing a legal career, Catalina de la Sota spent three years as an analyst in an economics consulting firm in Brussels. She thus has a particular knowledge of economic regulation issues as well as of the European institutions.

Alongside her legal education, Catalina de la Sota was a judicial assistant to two senior judges in charge of pre-trial investigations in white collar crime and fraud cases. For one year and a half, she prepared interrogations as well as investigation closings, and attended several hearings. This time working with specialised judges enabled her to develop an expertise in white collar crime and criminal procedure.

Catalina de la Sota then joined Vey & Associés for six months, as part of the training programme of the Paris Bar School. She worked on multiple human rights cases, as well as on a variety of criminal proceedings.

She finalised her Bar school training at Antonin Lévy & Associés, where she worked in particular on business and human rights cases.

Working languages
French, English and Spanish

Blandine Gentil

Associate lawyer, member of the Paris Bar

Educated at the universities of King’s College London, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and Paris II Panthéon-Assas, Blandine Gentil joined the firm in May 2023.

Blandine Gentil holds both a French Masters degree and an English LLB in French and English law (honours). Having a strong interest in European and international issues, she interned at the CJEU with the British judge and with the European and International Affairs Department of the French National Commission for Information Technology and Civil Liberties (CNIL). 

During her training at the Bar School, she completed a six-month placement with the Paris tribunal unit of judges leading pre-trial investigations on crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocides, developing an acute knowledge of criminal procedure and of the functioning of the judicial institution. 

Blandine Gentil completed her traineeship with the law firm Ancile Avocats, gaining experience in criminal law matters, international criminal and human rights law. She also dinterned within the banking-finance department of De Pardieu Brocas Maffei law firm, gaining an insight into the business world. 

Blandine Gentil holds a Master’s degree in Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (cum laude) from the University of Paris II Panthéon-Assas, where she taught as a tutor to Master’s students on the law of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Working languages
French, English.

Charlotte Michon

Lawyer, CSR and human rights consultant

Charlotte Michon is a pioneer in business and human rights.

Before joining Zimeray & Finelle, she has been, since its creation, the General Delegate of Entreprises pour les Droits de l’Homme – an association of 20 major groups in various sectors. In this context, she has supported major French companies in their duty of vigilance.

Holder of a double master’s degree in international and European law and a postgraduate degree in international human rights law, she has been working with French companies since 2008. She is familiar with the realities faced by companies, their constraints and expectations as well as those of their stakeholders, and accompanies them in a pragmatic manner and with equal concern for operational and risk prevention.

Charlotte Michon regularly publishes legal articles on the practices of companies in relation to human rights and their duty of vigilance, and and provides training on this subject to professionals and students.

Charlotte Michon has decided to join the Paris Bar. She is currently a trainee lawyer at Zimeray & Finelle Avocats.

Working languages
French, English.

General Delegate of the association “Entreprises pour les Droits de l’Homme

Cécilia Pechmeze
Cecilia Pechmeze_portrait bw

Lawyer, dedicated to the regulation of armed conflict

Educated at the University of Toulouse Capitole and at the London School of Economics, Cecilia Pechmeze is dedicated to the regulation of armed conflict.

Having starting off her career in NGOs documenting violations of international law in armed conflict, Cecilia Pechmeze developed a robust expertise of international humanitarian and criminal law, in particular in the context of the Syrian conflict, heading investigations aiming at documenting war crimes and crimes against humanity, collaborating with United Nations agencies, and liaising with embassies and ministries involved in the resolution of the conflict.

She assists companies operating in conflict zones to prevent the risk of criminal liability, and advises them on matters pertaining to international law compliance, export control and foreign investment control in relation to the production of military material.

Working languages
French, English

trainee lawyers
Judith Derouet

Judith Derouet is a trainee lawyer at the “Haute École des avocats conseils” (HEDAC). She holds a Master’s degree in Human Rights and Humanitarian Law from the University of Paris II Panthéon-Assas and a Master’s degree in International and Comparative Criminal Law from the University of Paris Nanterre. She will further her academic training with a Certificate in Criminal Sciences from the Paris Institute of Criminology and Criminal Law. Her various professional and volunteering experiences have enabled her to develop a strong interest in the defence and protection of human rights. She is also hoping to train in restorative justice.