By the end of my second year at university, I was starting to get a firmer sense that I wanted to work in law once I left. I wanted a job where communication was a key skill, you had the opportunity to do varied and interesting work, and you were doing it around people who you could feel inspired by. For me, Clifford Chance offered all those things and more. Having lived abroad as a child, the firm's international scope, not just in terms of offices, but the multi-jurisdictional element of their headline deals was attractive. It was also a firm that seemed to care about the world it inhabited, fighting landmark discrimination cases on behalf of minority and oppressed groups. The absolute clincher though was the unparalleled training the firm offered – both on the job by doing market-leading deals and observing the best in the business explain concepts to clients and other team members and through the more formal training programmes. I ended up applying direct to a training contract and while it was a bit daunting setting foot in the offices for the first time at interview, the interviews themselves were very friendly and I got a real sense the firm wanted to get to know me.
In the job the level of training has not let up. At the beginning of every seat, there has been a week-long induction and training in the basic concepts, documentation and processes in each practice area. This is supplemented by sessions targeted at trainees about more specialist parts of their practice and general practice updates as well as a series of Perspectives talks which range across law, business and current affairs (at which high-profile external speakers often speak).
Being a trainee is certainly not easy. You encounter something new on a daily basis. What makes Clifford Chance a wonderful place to train is that people are aware of that and take the time to explain, offer guidance and support. It's a friendly firm – helped by the opportunity to have a post-work catch-up in the on-site bar and café, which serve the world's best raspberry and white chocolate muffins. The work you actually do can really vary depending on your department. In a more advisory seat, you can be conducting research, writing up memos for review, taking notes and attending meetings and hearings. On the transactional side, you will be amending the transaction documents, reviewing due diligence or conditions precedent and co-ordinating the signing process. While there are still process-driven tasks, the firm has been an early adopter of technology and working with more diversified teams in different parts of the world to streamline processes, which ultimately means freeing up more time to observe the negotiations happening at a higher level. On individual projects, teams work very closely and you always have someone to ask a seemingly "stupid" question, although there's a real sense that there is no such thing.
Clifford Chance is also a firm that will support you to grow your career in the direction you want to go, even in difficult circumstances. When lockdown happened, and the whole training experience changed overnight, the firm offered money to buy work-from-home set-ups and put on a lot of extra resource surrounding mental wellbeing. I was offered the opportunity to go on a client secondment during lockdown. It's been tough stepping in to a new organisation, but both the firm and the client have worked really hard to involve me not just in work, but socially (it seems "virtual" goes with almost anything from coffee to cookery classes!). Pro bono is also core to every trainee's rotations and allows opportunities in wildlife conservation, refugee action, access to education and legal services. Trainees have the chance to source their own opportunities in fields they care about, which for me has meant rewilding projects and species protection. Overall, my experience at the firm has been that opportunity is the name of the game and you will find friendly, active support where you need it in what is a whirlwind of learning on your feet.