Oct 16, 2021

Written By Thomas Cserep

International Secondments vs Client Secondments: which is best?

Oct 16, 2021

Written By Thomas Cserep

Secondments are a great way to get valuable work experience outside of your law firm during your training contract. Here, we discuss the differences between international and client secondments to help you decide which one meets your needs the most.  

Secondments: a brief outline

Known in the legal industry as a secondment, over the course of your training contract your law firm might decide to send you on a six month placement to one of their offices abroad or to work in the legal department of a client. 

This is a great opportunity to broaden your horizons and hone new skills during your traineeship. By experiencing a new environment, you will gain a more holistic picture of what it is like working in the legal industry. 

Trainees can be sent on international or client secondments, so here we will break down the differences and benefits of both pathways to help you decide which is the best fit.



Client secondments

On a client secondment trainees work in-house with a company. Unlike at a law firm, where solicitors tend to specialise, you will support clients in all legal issues, regardless of the area of law that your employer wishes to involve you in. By doing a secondment during your two-year training contract, you have the chance to get more comprehensive legal training as you will have to deal with legal matters that would not necessarily surface at your law firm.

You will also be able to see the impact of your legal advice in a real world business context, as in-house solicitors are often invited to the decision-making table for their invaluable advice. This gives you the chance to develop and build upon skills that are key for operating in the business invaluable world, such as commercial awareness and economic intuition. A client secondment is a great way for you to see how laws and businesses interact, enabling you to do much more than just dealing with clients.

If you are not sure whether you want to work for a private practice or an in-house legal department in the future, a client secondment is also a handy option to acquaint yourself with both work environments on one training contract. 


International secondments

As part of an international secondment, trainees are sent to work in one of their law firm’s offices abroad. Just like a client secondment, it is a great way to enhance your training and gain an alternative perspective on the legal industry.  But working in another country can really broaden your scope, letting you get to know the culture and ethical standards that unify the law firm globally. 

Part of working abroad could mean managing cases with legal jurisdictions that are slightly different to the ones you’re used to, gaining hands-on expertise in localised laws and regulations.

Alternatively, you may be relocated to a smaller office, which  could offer the chance of more responsibilities. If you are on a training contract, this can be a vital step in your legal education, by the end of which you aim to qualify as a fully-fledged solicitor.

Whether you are entrusted with new responsibilities or not, an international secondment enables you to work with new colleagues and clients. In addition to giving you a fresh outlook on working in a private practice, your fellow solicitors will pass on skills that you can apply and improve upon when you return to your original office. 


So which option is the best? It really depends on what you want to get out of your secondment. As you can see, both international and client secondments have their own merits and it is up to you to decide which one will benefit your legal career the best.