International and client secondments are periods of around three to six months (the equivalent of one ‘seat’) and can be a key part of a training contract. Why? Simply because of the experience secondments offer trainees.
Spending six months with a client of the firm or in an overseas office has so many advantages. What’s that? You want us to list them? Challenge accepted.
Whilst on a client secondment, trainee solicitors are often given more responsibility than they would normally be given at a firm. Trainees could find themselves managing an entire project on their own, which may seem daunting at first, but is the only way to develop as a solicitor. Later in your career as an associate, senior associate or partner, you’ll be managing other solicitors, delegating work and seeing a project through. If you can show your firm that you’ve successfully tried and tested these skills, your career progression could speed up slightly.
Development of skills & knowledge
“With great responsibility comes great development of skills.” That’s how the quote goes, right? No? Oh. Regardless, with secondments providing trainee solicitors with greater responsibility, this comes hand-in-hand with a development of legal skills. A client secondment will provide you with in-depth knowledge of how a specific business operates, and the challenges they face on a daily basis. An international secondment will allow you to develop your knowledge of different global markets and the legal issues surrounding them.
A different working environment
They say variety is the spice of life, and secondments can be used as an opportunity to travel to a new location or office around the world. Whilst a different working environment will simply be more exciting because it will be a change of scenery, but it will also show the firm you work for an eagerness to try new things, get involved with clients and the international work of the firm and show your commitment to your career.
Interview with trainees who have been on secondment
We may big up secondments as an amazing thing to do, but the fact of the matter is that we’ve never done one ourselves (sad face). Luckily, we’ve spoken to a few trainee solicitors who have been on secondment before, and they had great things to say.
Lorenco Lopes-Sabino, now an associate at Slaughter and May, said that an international secondment “is an excellent opportunity to experience living and working in a different environment and jurisdiction. It is also a great opportunity to grow professionally.”
Sophie Owens from Bond Dickinson underwent a client secondment at a major insurance company and explained that “During a client secondment you can establish relationships with and really understand what our clients are looking for from their legal advisors”.
Gabby Griggs from Sherman & Sterling sums things up perfectly. “Secondments are a lot of fun. You work hard and get great experience during the week, then travel to exciting places on the weekends.”