Some trainee solicitors have the opportunity to be seconded either to a client or to one of the firm’s regional or international offices as one of their training contract seats. Some secondments can even include both – working for a client in a foreign country! There are various advantages and disadvantages to training contract secondments, which you can read about below.
As a commercial lawyer, it is crucial for you to not only have an understanding of the law but also commercial awareness. You are expected to understand how a client’s business works and advise them in the best way possible to suit their needs. What better way to learn about a client than by working with them?
Client secondments offer unparalleled insight into how businesses function. They also help you develop client relations that will benefit you throughout your legal career.
In a client secondment, you are only focusing on one client’s business in its particular industry. This offers opportunities to explore a range of different legal issues. However, if you would like to work with a range of clients or across various industries, a client secondment might not appeal to you so much. You need to carefully consider whether working in-house as a lawyer is something you are interested in as it differs significantly from working in a private practice.
Aside from awarding you the opportunity to travel and live abroad for a period, international secondments can also offer insight into different legal jurisdictions. There are several fascinating legal doctrines and laws to explore all over the world. You can get involved in cross-border, multi-jurisdictional transactions and really develop and grow as a commercial lawyer.
In addition, if you are seconded to a smaller office, you may be given greater responsibility and have more independence in your work and interactions with partners and clients. This is a crucial learning opportunity and will stand you in good stead once you qualify.
Training contract secondments vary between firms and it is worth researching what opportunities your particular firm of interest offers. It is important to note, however, that while some firms guarantee a secondment, others do not. For the latter, competition for a placement is very high and you may not be guaranteed your top choice.
It is also important to note that living in a new and different country presents its own challenges such as language barriers and culture shock.
Words: Siobhan Ali
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