Interview with Gabby Griggs, Shearman & Sterling International Secondee in Singapore

Gabby Griggs is a trainee solicitor at Shearman & Sterling, currently undertaking a secondment in Singapore. From weekend trips to Shanghai, to work in jurisdictions such as Pakistan and Indonesia, Gabby encourages students and trainees considering a secondment to “Stop considering it and just go!"

  • Last updated Feb 11, 2018 9:20:54 AM
  • By Billy Sexton, Editor, AllAboutLaw.co.uk
Placeholder

Could you give us a quick description of where you’re doing your secondment and the kind of work you’re doing there?

I am on a six month secondment to our Singapore office, working in the Project Development and Finance team. We work on power, oil and gas, infrastructure and other large projects all over the world. In Singapore our projects are often in interesting jurisdictions such as Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines. 

 

Did you choose to undertake an international secondment, or is it part of the training contract programme at Shearman & Sterling?

A secondment to the Singapore office was my first choice but I would have been happy with any international seat. It is by no means compulsory at Shearman to undertake an international secondment but the opportunity is there and it is actively encouraged from the beginning of your training contract.

 

What do you feel are the benefits to life as a secondee?

Secondments are a lot of fun. You work hard and get great experience during the week, then travel to exciting places on the weekends. Singapore is especially good for this as it is so well connected to southeast Asia. I have also really enjoyed the experience of living and working in a new country, discovering new favourite places and I’m always trying to make the most of my time here.

 

What has been your most memorable or valuable experience at your secondment so far?

This has to be being invited along to our annual Asia Lawyers Weekend in Shanghai. There I met lawyers from Shearman’s Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong offices as well as senior management from New York. It was invaluable to learn about the work we do in the rest of Asia, increase my network within the firm and have an incredible weekend in Shanghai!

 

Did you find yourself in a state of culture shock when you first started? Was there a support system in place with Shearman & Sterling to help you get to grips with your new post/home?

One of the reasons secondments abroad are so great is because there are support systems everywhere. Shearman lawyers who had been out to Singapore when they were trainees gave me a pack with a guide of hints and tips for living here. As Shearman is organised by practice group rather than office, I have a lot of support from the Projects team in London, who make me feel like part of the team there as well. The trainees from the other firms are another close support network who are going through the same things as you. 

 

How does the work differ from what you were up to before your secondment? For instance, is it structured differently in relation to seats, and are you working within the firm or as part of an in-house legal team?

I am still working within the firm. Because our work is international, I work with the London office quite a lot so some of my work is similar to that in London. However, as this is a smaller office I get greater responsibility and am treated more like an associate. We also have more deals centred in Southeast Asia so the jurisdictions I work with can be different.

 

What’s your best piece of advice for anyone considering an international secondment?

Stop considering it and just go! It is an incredible opportunity that many other jobs don’t offer in the same way. Go with a real commitment to making the most of the experience and you will have a great time. 

More like this

  • The life of a trainee solicitor: London edition Becky Kells, Editor, AllAboutLaw

    For many, the journey to qualifying as a solicitor starts in one city: London. With a huge array of clients and practice areas to choose from, it remains one of the most exciting places to do your training contract. Mabel O’Connor, a trainee solicitor at Addleshaw Goddard, tells us more about what it’s like to train in the capital.

  • “For us, change is not in any way threatening, it’s what we do every day here”: Introducing the M-law Becky Kells, Editor, AllAboutLaw

    Combining a qualifying law degree and the legal-practice course, the undergraduate Masters in Law Honours (M-law) programme is a possible direct route to a training contract. John Clifford, head of law at Pearson Business School, talks us through the M-Law and addresses how it fits in with the wider future trends in the profession.

  • What is life like as a legal trainee within HM Revenue & Customs?Article Provided by Government Legal Profession

    Doing your training contract in government is a unique and exciting way to qualify. We spoke to Charles, a trainee in HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) Solicitor’s Office, to get the lowdown.

  • A new chapter: flexible working in law Sophie Nevrkla

    In our rapidly changing working environment, more and more young lawyers are choosing to work flexibly rather than in an office environment with fixed contracts and working hours. As this pattern becomes more and more common, what effect will it have on the legal profession?

  • Freshfields: diversity for success Article Provided by Freshfields

    At 275 years old, Freshfields is the world’s oldest global law firm. This long history is based on being adaptable and open to new ways of working. Today, that means being a responsible, diverse organisation.