Why do law firms offer secondments?
The benefits of doing a secondment during your training contract are endless. But it’s not just candidates hoping to qualify as solicitors that gain from the experience, law firms also reap the rewards of encouraging their trainees to participate on a secondment during placements.
What are secondments?
During your mandatory two year training contract, your law firm might give you the opportunity to temporarily move to a new company or department. This period, which lasts around six months, is known as a secondment.
Secondments can take a variety of forms. Within a larger law firm you may be moved to another department that deals with a different aspect of law. This is a great opportunity if you do not necessarily want to change your place of employment but you do want to experience working in another area of the industry. Some multinational law firms even send trainees to overseas offices, giving them the chance to work in an international environment and support clients from around the world.
Nonetheless, client secondments are the most common route taken by employees on a training contract. During a placement you will be working in-house with your employer, supporting them in a variety of legal matters. Over the course of your time there, you will also develop valuable skills such as business acumen and commercial awareness.
Law firms are more open to sending out their trainees to clients and overseas offices than ever before – and for goo
What’s in it for law firms?
By providing a secondment, law firms are able to give trainees a more comprehensive work experience. As they work closely with a business, lawyers gain exposure to the legal industry from the clients’ perspective. Additionally, law firms also recognise that solicitors can acquire a range of competencies by working in-house with a client, such as commercial awareness and business know-how.
Secondments can be understood as law firms investing into their trainees, whereby they expect them to return after their six month placement with skills and experience they can then use to the advantage of the company.
Larger law firms often decide to send a solicitor to one of their international offices to help consolidate their network around the world. As a lawyer on secondment in an international office, you act as an ambassador for your place of work as you assist with local legal matters, all the while upholding universal company values and culture that unites your firm. In turn, it is envisaged that you will return having gained skills that you can apply in your own workplace.
Firms can also use secondments to strengthen the relationship between them and the client. By hiring a lawyer to their in-house legal department from a law firm, companies are able to work with top solicitors. In fact, certain legal firms and in-house legal departments of companies run joint secondment programmes, in which the client receives a steady flow of solicitors from the law firm over an extended period of time. This relationship is advantageous both to the law firm and the solicitors involved, as clients will already have the infrastructure in place to house lawyers on placements.
Finally, it is actually financially beneficial for law firms to provide secondees to work in-house with clients. Lawyers on training contracts are not the most productive employees in a law firm. For the duration of their secondment, firms will not have to continue to provide training for employees, all the while receiving a fee from the client for the use of secondees’ services.
A win-win situation
While they enhance the experience of solicitors on a training contract, secondments also benefit law firms, thus creating a win-win situation for both parties involved.