I am in my third seat, having previously completed seats in our Dispute Resolution and Corporate departments in London.
Is a secondment a compulsory part of a training contract at Gibson Dunn?
Gibson Dunn has only had trainees in London since 2015 so the training programme is quite new. I am the first trainee to undertake a secondment to our Hong Kong office, although two trainees have undertaken secondments to our Dubai office, so already the secondment opportunities for trainees have grown.
Whilst not compulsory, they are likely to be more readily available for trainees going forward.
What appealed to you most about taking a secondment?
The chance to live abroad and experience a different working environment, coupled with the opportunity to explore Asia.
Which department did you sit in and what did your daily work involve?
I sat in the Corporate department but ended up doing predominantly Finance work. This was due to the fact that the Gibson Dunn Hong Kong office has fewer lawyers than London and so the trainee tends to float between departments.
While I was there, the Finance department was the busiest. The main project I worked on was a leveraged finance acquisition for a major private equity house.
To begin with, it was just me and the partner working on the finance aspects of the deal. I took on the first drafts of many of the commitment documents, as well as the first drafts of the senior and mezzanine facilities agreements.
In the run up to signing, I was in charge of the CP checklists.
Throughout the deal, I had a huge amount of contact with the banks’ counsel and the client.
How did the work/ways of doing business differ between the London and Hong Kong office?
On the whole the work/way of doing business was pretty similar to London. I would say, though, that due to there being fewer lawyers in the Gibson Dunn Hong Kong office, I had greater responsibility than in London.
This was beneficial for me going into my second year of training: taking on almost associate levels of responsibility is great preparation for qualification.
Are you expected to speak the native language?
What secondee support systems were in place?
Your accommodation is arranged and paid for by the firm, and you are assigned an accountant who helps you to navigate the tax issues that come with working in Hong Kong for six months.
I was also given a return flight and put in touch with all the other trainee solicitors in Hong Kong.
What are the benefits of completing a secondment?
Experiencing a different working environment; making contacts in the office to which you are seconded; meeting lots of fellow trainees; having greater responsibility than in London; and travel.
What did you enjoy most about your secondment?
Travelling around Asia.
What advice would you offer to anyone considering international secondment?
Go for it. Six months is a very short time in the grand scheme of things and, further down the line, you will regret having spent another six months in London when you could have been abroad.