Why is it a good idea to do a secondment during a training contract?
Secondments are a wonderful opportunity for you to experience working outside of your law firm during your training contract. They offer a wide array of benefits, from developing new skills to helping you decide which direction to take your legal career.
Secondments: what are they?
Over the course of your training contract with a law firm, you may be asked to move to another office or work directly with a client. This is known as a secondment and your placement would last around six months.
The type of work you do on a secondment really depends on where you’re placed. Some trainees are relocated to another department or office within the firm, allowing them to interact with different kinds of clients and experience working in a different area of the legal industry.
Some are placed in the legal department of a company, giving insight into what life is like in an in-house legal team, and helping to support the business in a variety of legal matters.
Whichever pathway is open to you, doing a secondment during your training contract is highly recommended. Here are several ways it could benefit your long-term legal career.
Private practice or in-house?
Before starting your training contract, you need to decide whether you want to work for a private practice or in the in-house legal department of a company. Both pathways have a range of benefits, often making it difficult for candidates to decide which one to take.
However, a secondment allows you to dip your toes in both. Even though you work for a private practice, an in-house secondment placement with a client is the best of both worlds.
While a six month placement will certainly not substitute for a two year training contract, you will still get valuable insight into working for an in-house legal department, while acquiring the vital skills that solicitors need outside of a private practice environment.
Your combined experience of working in a private practice and an in-house legal department will enhance your CV, putting you in a good position to pursue both career pathways after finishing your placement.
If you can’t decide whether you want to do your training contract at a private practice or as part of an in-house legal team, try finding firms that offer the chance to do an in-house secondment with a client at some point during the training contract.
Gaining new skills
Working on a secondment placement is also a great way to gain new skills. In-house legal teams are more than just solicitors; they need good commercial awareness, as one of their main responsibilities is evaluating legal risk, to increase clients’ efficiency and cut business costs.
Due to your role in company operations, you will have a say in decision-making and participate in meetings with other departments. This means you will develop valuable skills, such as business acumen and communication with non-legal departments.
A secondment with a business will also give you a new perspective on the legal industry. You will have the opportunity to see how your advice directly impacts your client.
This in turn can be beneficial when you return to your private practice as an enhanced work experience will enable you to make the optimum decisions for the clients you support in the future.
Basically, secondments are a great way to experience working in a private practice and also an in-house legal department, giving you seriously comprehensive training: anyone lucky enough to be offered one on a training contract would be wise to jump at the chance.