We caught up with Idil, Watson Farley & Williams trainee, about her experience on an international secondment in Bangkok.
Tell me a little bit about your journey to becoming a trainee at WFW.
I studied Law at the University of Kent and graduated in 2017. I took part in the WFW Summer Vacation Scheme in 2018 and worked as a paralegal in a civil litigation team before completing the LPC at BPP University. I started my Training Contract in August 2020 and I'm now a third seat trainee. My first seat was in Dispute Resolution, second seat was in Assets and Structured Finance and now I’m in the Corporate seat in Bangkok.
What stood out to you about WFW when applying for opportunities in law?
I really appreciated the strong international focus of WFW, especially as it was one of the only firms I found at the time that had a guaranteed international secondment. I know sometimes in other firms it can be quite tricky and competitive to get international secondments, so I was pleased to hear it was guaranteed at WFW. When I was looking through the offices that were available I was really impressed, and Bangkok stood out to me even at that stage so I’m so grateful to be out here now, especially given the circumstances.
What appealed to you about the opportunity to work abroad?
I'd always heard about the various advantages of working abroad and really wanted to experience this for myself. One of my favourite aspects of working at WFW so far has been getting the opportunity to work with clients and colleagues across the world in locations such as Chile, Singapore, New York etc. so I knew that the experience would be even more invaluable when coupled with actually living and working abroad.
Why did you choose Bangkok?
One moment that stood out to me when I was doing my Vacation Scheme with WFW was speaking with some of the trainees who had just come back from their international secondments in Bangkok. It was really interesting to hear their first-hand experience of what the culture of the city and office was like and I knew from then that Bangkok would be one of my top choices.
What kind of work have you been exposed to on this secondment?
Despite currently being in a Corporate seat, we have a substantial disclosure exercise ongoing with the Dispute Resolution team that I've been working on. This has been a great experience for me as I had already done a seat in Dispute Resolution and it’s an area I’m keen to explore further. I’ve been spending at least 4 hours of every working day for over a month now reviewing documents and deciding which documents are relevant and irrelevant based on a set of disclosure tagging instructions. I’ve not been involved in a disclosure exercise of this magnitude before, so I've really appreciated being able to get so involved.
What advice would you give to someone about to undertake an international secondment?
As an English trainee going to an international office, one of the tasks you might be asked to do quite regularly is proofreading documents. One thing I’d advise future international secondees to keep in mind is to stay as open minded and enthusiastic as possible, even if you think the task doesn’t seem very important. Proofreading legal documents can be a really important task especially when you realise that the smallest mistakes can sometimes have very significant legal consequences. Also, the lawyers in your team will notice your hard work and enthusiasm and may ask you to carry out more challenging tasks moving forwards, so my advice would be to try your best with every task you're asked to do.
How would you describe the culture at WFW?
I would describe WFW's culture as very welcoming and supportive. My intake has joined at a strange time where it's been largely virtual, so it's been nice to see the firm make a lot of effort to reach out to the trainees and help us feel like part of the team. I think this cultural element translates into the virtual working conditions because even though it's not that easy to knock on someone’s door, everyone is only a Skype message away. This has definitely carried over to the Bangkok office too, because you're always in contact with your team even when working virtually.
What has been your favourite part of the international secondment?
My favourite part of the international secondment has definitely been getting to meet and work closely with the team in the Bangkok office. It's been really easy to feel like part of the team as everyone has been so friendly and welcoming. I've also really enjoyed being able to travel around Bangkok and the neighbouring provinces on the weekends too.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
The classic piece of advice would be to do as much research into the firm as possible to see what differentiates the firm from others and decide if this is something that interests you. For instance, WFW has a strong sector focus so this may be an area to look into further. Also, I’d definitely advise trying to attend any open days or events that WFW is attending to learn more about the firm. Getting in contact with current trainees on LinkedIn is also a good idea if you have any questions about the firm or if you'd like to hear about our experiences so far.