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Clifford Chance

Employee profile

O’Neil Ouinsou

O’Neil Ouinsou

Future Trainee

My journey with the firm began quite early during my time at Sixth Form, I had a keen interest in commercial law and the innovative philosophy of Clifford Chance in particular. It was through the ACCESS scheme that I was first able to experience the atmosphere of the firm and gain real insight into commercial law. Having nurtured a curiosity for law, yet never studied the subject previously, the ACCESS scheme provided a holistic opportunity to gain divisional insights into the operations of such a global firm. This not only involves showing students around the office but also the chance to gain a real insight into the nature of the work of a trainee through a case study of a M&A transactions from deal origination to the presentation and pitching process. The scheme played a beneficial role in my early development through its comprehensive seven-tiered schedule of programmes offering the opportunity to engage in skill workshops, charitable initiatives and coaching insights. They often say the culture of a firm is what sets it apart - for me, it was the most formative part of my experience. I was able to develop a dynamic network of connections who were happy to learn more about my journey into law and willing to take the time out of their day to answer any question I had. Following the scheme, I integrated into the firms ACCESS network which provided a platform for the cohort and alumni to engage and provide support with any queries. 

Having enjoyed my experiences with the firm I frequently re-visited the offices through the ACCESS reunion as well as during thought leadership presentations on technology and diversity. The truly open-door culture allowed me to meet employees from various departments within the firm during my visits alongside my trainee buddy who I frequently met up with to discuss my transition to University life. 

Following on from this, I applied to the award-winning SPARK scheme the firm offers for first year undergraduates. To my surprise the interview process really is an enjoyable experience, and all throughout both interviewers were passionately engaged in what I had to say, particularly concerning my commercial interests, understanding of developments within the industry, as well as my experiences with the firm and even general interests and hobbies. I left feeling I was able to be my whole self and convey my full capabilities in a natural light.  

Upon starting the SPARK Scheme, I was able to experience the pioneering work of the firm in anticipating developments within the industry through gaining exposure to the tech leadership programmes and the innovative work of the emerging capital markets division in leading precedent transactions in some of the most challenging developing markets. The most anticipated part of the scheme for any first-year undergraduate was the, two-day trip to one of the firm’s international offices. During my scheme we visited the firms Brussels office. The experience truly highlighted the openness and breadth of opportunity the firm offers to its trainees to gain versatile exposure, whether through its international secondments or client secondments, there is a real sense of value for the unique opportunities for professional development such experiences offer. Most strikingly I was surprised at the similarities between both the firms Brussels and London offices, and took away from this an appreciation of the seamlessly integrated nature of the firm; it really is true! Clifford Chance is one global partnership.   

Another, important aspect of the Clifford Chance experience is the ambitious outlook of its teams. The firm really does yield a can-do attitude and from your first days at the firm your encouraged to ask questions and gain a grounding of the practices you’re interested in. Sometimes it can be hard to choose; with so many market leading divisions I was able to talk with a range of partners and associates in the capital markets, restructuring and private funds divisions. Alongside this comes the collegiate system the firm boasts, at such a global firm, I was surprised to say I never felt lost due to the personable support network of the f impressive trainee development and recruitment teams in providing guidance and support when necessary.  

Even beyond work individuals are encouraged to pursue their key interests and social life doesn’t fall short here. The firm has an outstanding commitment to its Arcus, Reach and Accelerate networks and the wholesome contributions individuals bring to its workplace. Not to mention the firms pioneering works in actioning environmental and social governance through leading environmental pledges and fostering an altruistic culture of pro-bono engagement through the Clifford Chance Foundation.   

If you’re an individual with great interpersonal skills and the ability to solve business related problems in a fast-paced team environment, then I truly believe this is the firm that will allow you to realise and develop your potential.