A Client Secondment at a Major Insurance Company
Sophie Owens is a trainee solicitor at Bond Dickinson and is currently undertaking a client secondment with a major insurance company. She believes that her experience of the client’s business has broadened her commercial awareness which will, in turn, benefit her approach to providing legal advice in the future...
Could you get us a quick description of what area you're doing your client secondment in and the kind of work you're undertaking?
I am based in the Corporate/Commercial team of a major insurance company in London. I am currently working on the roll out of new insurance projects across a number of jurisdictions, a range of commercial contracts with partners and suppliers and I have been involved in the updating of policy documentation.
Did you choose to undertake a client secondment, or is it part of the training contract programme at Bond Dickinson?
I choose to undertake a client secondment and at Bond Dickinson we are really lucky that the firm has a wide range of rolling secondment opportunities with some of our major clients.
How does a client secondment experience differ from a more general secondment?
During a client secondment you can establish relationships with and really understand what our clients are looking for from their legal advisors which allows us to better understand the trends and pressures in their business sector.
What do you feel are the benefits of doing a client secondment?
Secondments are a fantastic way to take on extra responsibility. Working within an in-house team also exposes you to a number of different areas of law as you need to adapt and respond to the needs of the business. Within the Corporate/Commercial team I also worked on Regulatory, Licensing and Property matters.
Since a client secondment is different from an in-firm programme, is there a support system in place for you?
I have been allocated a supervisor within the in-house team and a separate supervisor back at Bond Dickinson who I am in regular contact with. As well as this I have a mentor who is a final seat Trainee back at the firm who has previously completed a client secondment.
How much interaction is there with your firm during your secondment? For instance, how do you receive feedback?
I am in regular contact with my supervisor and fellow trainees back at Bond Dickinson. If I have any questions or get stuck on a particular task I can contact my supervisor and if he is unable to help he will point me in the direction of someone else at the firm who will be able to assist. Feedback is received from the lawyers in the in-house team on particular tasks and at a mid-seat and end-seat appraisal.
What has been your most memorable or valuable experience in your secondment so far?
As part of my secondment I have been lucky enough to spend time in different parts of the business. A few weeks ago I was able to spend a day shadowing a Financial Lines Underwriter. As well as attending meetings at Lloyds with brokers on new business I learned a lot about the types of business areas our client is looking to explore in the near future. Experiences like this have really broadened my commercial awareness which I think will really benefit my approach to legal advice when I return to the firm.
What is your main piece of advice for those considering undertaking a client secondment?
Don't dwell on the fact that you will be out of the firm for six months of your Training Contract. In my experience, the work can be challenging which really stretches your ability and you gain invaluable client awareness which departments back at the firm will be impressed with on your return.
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