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Clifford Chance

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Ollie James

Ollie James

Trainee Solicitor

Following SPARK, Clifford Chance's first-year scheme, I was offered a training contract. In the space of a few months, I had gone from a fresh-faced fresher knowing relatively little about the 'commercial law world', to having secured a training contract at a firm sitting at its very core. 

A question anybody applying to any firm needs to convincingly answer, is the dreaded 'why?': be that when answering a grilling question in your case-study interview, or the age-old, 'Why XYZ firm?'. In answering the latter question, for Clifford Chance it isn't the promise of a swimming pool, international secondments, or a 30th floor office that does it for me (though they don't hurt). It is instead the value placed on each individual, with this being tangibly felt. Though billable work for our clients of course take priority, this does not mean there is no room for tailoring one's own training contract to one's own interests or goals. There are endless opportunities to further professional and personal skills via the Clifford Chance Academy, alongside the chance to get involved with an array of different committees which effect change across the firm. Together, these amalgamate to create a diverse, valuable workforce, where one's own individual, as well as collective development, is at the heart of the firm's strategy. 

Starting a graduate job from your bedroom is quite a bizarre experience. Though nobody is claiming it is the best way to start work, Clifford Chance sought to allay our intake's concerns by putting on a thorough virtual induction. The comprehensive training is the first thing you experience once 'inside' the firm, and this is something that stays for the duration of the Training Contract. Though being 'thrown in at the deep end' is expected when starting any graduate job, CC ensured that we would not drown once 'at our desk' (even if this was at home). Once familiar with the technology, internal processes, and how the next two years look as a trainee, we started our individual practice area inductions.  I am currently sat within the financial regulation department of the Global Financial Markets group, and though mammoth in its breadth as a group, the education team at CC gave us a great overview of the work we would all be doing individually, as well as collectively within the group. Knowing where you fit in the general work done by the group is not only interesting, but helpful if needing answers to questions later on at work (of which there are many). These few weeks to start the TC are invaluable, and seeing how much the firm invests time and effort in our induction, paints the right impression; being, that the firm cares.

To create the value above-mentioned, the training we receive at the firm is continuous. It is certainly reassuring that everyone continues learning, from partners to trainees, and the firm encourages this. In the rare instance that there is not a relevant topic guide or training session on a particular area pertinent to one's role, someone is easily contactable who can point you in the direction of success.

What we do as trainees at the firm is largely an impossible question to answer succinctly, given the endless variability. As a first seat trainee currently sat in Finance: Derivatives & Financial Regulation at the firm, I have been exposed to drafting, intricate legal research, and the ability to be the first eyes on a jurisdictional questionnaire for a major client (to name but a few matters). After only a month at the firm, I can tell that the answer to the question of what we do as trainees will only become more elusive. What we do as trainees is ever-changing, and perhaps it is therefore better to describe how best one can be prepared to 'do what we do'. Simply put, the role necessitates an agility and enthusiasm for constant development/learning, and these are traits I see in everyone who works at the firm.

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