Talking secondments

Julian Ried of Slaughter and May talks to us about the benefits of secondments, opportunities abroad and the selection process for trainees.

  • Last updated Feb 11, 2018 9:02:17 AM
  • By Julien Ried, Slaughter and May
Image courtesy of Slaughter and May

How do international secondments work at Slaughter and May, and where can a secondee expect to go?

All trainees can apply to go on an international secondment in the second year of their training contract. Secondments are for six months and trainees can go to range of places - Sydney, New York, Tokyo and Stockholm to name but a few. These vary slightly every six months, but there are always exciting destinations on offer.

In locations where we don’t have an office, secondees are hosted by one of our relationship law firms which will be a leading law firm in that jurisdication. In addition to the six-month international secondment, trainees can spend three months in our Brussels office as part of a seat in our Competition department.

What are the benefits to undertaking an international secondment?

There are many benefits to undertaking an international secondment. Firstly, the secondee gets a unique insight into what it is like to work in an overseas jurisdiction. Also, secondments are great opportunities to learn a new language, to live and work in a different culture and to travel.

Slaughter and May puts a lot of emphasis on building close ties with the leading law firms in jurisdictions where we do not have an office. International secondments are key to this strategy with trainees playing an important role in developing the relationship with the host partner law firm.

Is secondment selection very competitive? If so, what can trainees do to stand out?

Yes, it is competitive to get an international secondment, but the majority of trainees who want to go abroad usually get the chance to do so. Trainees can stand out by having a clear rationale for choosing a specific destination (e.g. wanting to experience a particular type of work done in that jurisdiction) rather than simply wanting to go abroad.

Moving abroad to a new workplace is a big jump – does Slaughter and May offer a support system for secondees?

Slaughter and May has a great support system for secondees. The firm takes care of all the logistics, including accommodation, flights and work permits. HR and Learning & Development are always available for support if you need any advice even when you’re abroad – they check in from time to time to make sure everything is going smoothly as well.

Not only that, but each secondee is assigned a supervising partner who will monitor your progress when you are away from the London office.

How does the work during a secondment differ from work before a secondment?

While on secondment, trainees often face exciting challenges and can be given more responsibility. Thankfully, the responsibility given to you in your first year with Slaughter and May prepares you for the challenges you might face. Generally speaking, trainees work in a Corporate or Financing department when they are abroad.

There are also opportunities for secondments to high-profile clients - these are a great way to develop client relationships and gain an inside perspective on how the business operates.

What is your main piece of advice for those who are considering an international secondment?

My main piece of advice would be to just apply! I am always surprised by how few trainees want to go on secondment by the time they are in the second year of their training contract – by then, many have mortgages, long-term relationships and qualification on their mind. But then, opportunities to live in a foreign country, and getting paid for doing so, do not come around every day!  

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