What is a secondment?

  • Last updated Aug 1, 2016 10:23:28 AM
  • By Billy Sexton, Editor, AllAboutLaw.co.uk

During your hunt for vacation schemes and training contracts you may have stumbled upon the term secondment. But what on Earth does this mean?

First things first; there are two main types of secondments in the field of law, both very different to each other.

Client secondments

Client secondments are a period of time, usually six months (or one ‘seat’ of a training contract), where a trainee solicitor joins the in-house team of one of their firms clients. For large City and Magic Circle firms, trainees can go on secondments to other large corporations, such as banks. Alternatively, client secondments can also be carried out at Premier League football clubs and nationwide charities.

Trainee lawyers relish the opportunities that client secondments offer. Trainees can often take on more responsibilities and may find themselves managing a project and negotiating with clients. This may seem like a big step up from the everyday tasks of a trainee, but the best way to learn how to swim is by diving in at the deep end (metaphorically speaking!).

You’ll develop legal skills and your own confidence, as well as building upon your knowledge of business and the issues facing the firm’s clients – a key weapon in any lawyer’s arsenal as client care and understanding becomes a number one priority for all firms.

You can read more about client secondments as part of a Trademarks, Copyright and Media seat and a client secondment at Liberty on AllAboutLaw.co.uk.

International secondments

So, with all this information on client secondments in mind, what is an international secondment? “Is it a period of a training contract where you transfer to one of the firm’s international offices?” Spot on!

International secondments are, understandably, only available to trainees who manage to land a training contract with a large City or International firm. But what else is on offer with an international secondment, other than the opportunity to visit another city and experience difference cultures?

International secondments are a great way to learn about different markets, different clients and different ways of doing business. If you’re going to work at an international firm for the rest of your career, learning about these early on is a great way to get ahead.

It also shows the firm that you’re motivated, have a proactive attitude and are willing to learn. It also provides you with the opportunity to work with a range of other lawyers, from partners to associates, developing your network and knowledge.

International secondments may also allow you to dip your toe into various areas of law as opposed to just one in a standard seat in your home office. In short, international secondments enhance your professional growth.

Of course, international secondments are usually more of a commitment to undertake than a client secondment; spending time away from friends and family in another country can be emotional. However, firms do their utmost to make sure that you settle in comfortably to your temporary home.

What’s an international secondment like? Alas, AllAboutLaw.co.uk haven’t been on secondment, but we’ve spoken to some people who have spent time in Singapore, Abu Dhabi, New York and Moscow. Not too shabby at all! 

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