London trainee Lauren says that her non-legal work experience made her realise that working with clients would give her the job satisfaction that she wanted: "During my university studies, I had a mixture of government and commercial in-house legal work experience alongside a typical customer service job. It was through my enjoyment of being customer facing, interacting and helping people day-to-day, whilst also appreciating the challenge of legal work that I decided that I wanted a career that would ultimately allow me to interact with clients and problem solve amidst complex situations."
Finding a firm that fits
So how did Lauren decide on White & Case? She agrees that finding the right firm is a challenge for potential future lawyers "This is where a vacation scheme is invaluable, as it gives you an insight into a firm's culture and the people." At White & Case, one aspect of her experience made a particular impression, "I got the impression that people genuinely took an interest in my career trajectory."
When she was offered a training contract, Lauren was confident that she was making the right choice. "Accepting was an easy decision because White & Case offered top-calibre, international work across an array of jurisdictions as well as a welcoming culture that encourages you to ask questions, with people willing to sit down and spend time with you to explain things."
Exploring different areas of the law during the training contract
Lauren explains how the training contract at White & Case is structured. "Trainees sit in four different practices for six months at a time. This effectively allows you to try four different areas of law that you are interested in." What has Lauren experienced so far? "I have completed a seat in Project Finance, Corporate/M&A and I'm currently with the EMEA Bank Finance team."
She sees clear benefits to this system: "It can be hard to know what particular area of law you want to sit in, and having struggled with this myself, White & Case's open-door policy is one of its best assets, as you can speak to partners, associates and trainees in any of the departments that you may be interested in to get a better picture of life in that department."
Making a decision about what area of the law to focus on is made easier by the quality of the work, according to Lauren: "White & Case's practices are regarded as some of the best internationally and this is reflected in the quality of work and high-profile clients that you are afforded the opportunity of working with." This makes for interesting and challenging work, "The complexity of these deals means that the work is frequently testing but always interesting. It is exceptionally rewarding to see a deal that you're working on make the Financial Times too!"
Resources and support in an international setting
Lauren says that the work is always varied. "There is no such thing as a typical day when you're a trainee, and it will largely depend on what deal you're working on and the department's needs. You are, however, fully supported throughout and have the benefit of lots of resources to assist you."
The international element of the work is something that she finds both personally and professionally fulfilling. "I regularly liaise with our overseas offices, as one of the greatest services that we offer clients is seamless international legal advice across a multitude of jurisdictions. From a personal perspective, this is extremely useful in building an international network that you can call upon in the future, and the breadth of international coverage that White & Case has always surprises me."
She's looking forward to her upcoming international seat too: "In your final seat, you are guaranteed an overseas secondment. For me, this was a real draw, as I am keen to work with people from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures, and hone my foreign language ability."
Responsibility from the start
"Deal teams are often small and focused, which means you are entrusted with genuine responsibility early on. During my time so far, I have been trusted with significant client contact, drafting ancillary documents, undertaking due diligence and managing signing and closing processes," Lauren explains.
A close eye for detail is always required. "It can be difficult when you have to be incredibly methodical and have a good eye for detail in time-pressured situations, but it is worthwhile and rewarding when you spot something that has been missed. It is definitely an incredibly steep learning curve that can have intense hours, but working with people with a great sense of humour, earning the confidence of your colleagues and the satisfaction of helping the client achieve their objectives is a real highlight of the job."