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White & Case LLP

Employee profile

Gemma Kean

Trainee Solicitor

Why White & Case?

After attending White & Case’s open day, where I learnt more about the firm’s international client base and expertise in complex, cutting-edge projects, I was eager to find out more about life at the Firm and applied for the spring vacation scheme. It is important that you work at a firm that is the right fit for you, and the vacation scheme provides you with a hands-on insight into the Firm’s culture and clientele. The key attributes that stood out for me from the vacation scheme were the Firm’s welcoming nature and bustling atmosphere, and the opportunity to work alongside and learn from some of the best lawyers in the industry. Following the vacation scheme, I was fortunate enough to be offered a training contract.

There is no ‘fixed’ White & Case trainee, and trainees are welcomed for their individuality. Each intake includes a mix of recent graduates (law and non-law) and career changers. I opted for the non-law route and completed a History degree at Newcastle University. I was offered the training contract towards the end of completing my GDL.

The training contract

White & Case recruits two trainee intakes a year, with one group starting in September and the other starting in March. The Training Contract is a two-year scheme, which comprises of four six-month seats. Completing a finance seat is compulsory, and there is also the guaranteed overseas seat (a major asset of the White & Case training contract), which is taken in your fourth and final seat. Client secondments are also offered in some instances as part of the training contract. Trainees submit three preferences for their next seat before each rotation. I am currently sitting in the Contentious Construction Department, which was my first preference.

Trainees usually share an office with their supervisor, which means you are provided with continued support and guidance. Although everyone has been working remotely during the Covid-19 outbreak, regular video calls and meetings have ensured that trainees continue to receive the same level of training and supervision. Whether it is to discuss work, talk about your progress and development, or just for a quick chat, there is always someone available at the other end of the line.

As a trainee, you continually interact with colleagues in our overseas offices. This is a great way to build up your network and career internationally.

Life as a White & Case trainee

Life as a White & Case trainee is extremely stimulating and rewarding. From day one, you will be involved in working on complex, multi-jurisdictional projects or deals for high-profile clients. It is a steep learning curve and at times it can be testing. However, White & Case’s collaborative and encouraging environment makes it easy to ask questions and reach out for guidance when needed.

Training is practical and hands-on. I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of responsibility I have been entrusted with as a trainee in the Construction team. Each day is different and the work is incredibly varied. Typical tasks include attending and documenting weekly client calls, drafting client emails, carrying out legal research and writing research memorandums, managing and organising documents, and preparing materials (such as chronologies) to assist in understanding the facts of our case.

As a Construction trainee, you also prepare and present a monthly legal update on developments in construction law, recent cases, articles, or topics which you think the department will find interesting. This provides a great opportunity to keep on top of legal developments, display your knowledge in an area that interests you and hone your advocacy skills.

Trainees are a key member of the team at White & Case and are expected to take ownership of their work. You will be rewarded with greater responsibility if you can show that you are diligent, organised and enthusiastic. A highlight for me has been working on the preparation of witness evidence. This has involving drafting the questions for, and attending, the witness interview (and even asking some questions during the interview!). I have also produced detailed attendance notes of witness interviews and the first-cut of a witness statement.

As well as client work, trainees are actively encouraged to be involved in the firm’s international pro-bono program. Not only is this a great way to further develop your skill set and work with associates and partners across the firm, it also enables you to make a positive contribution to others. For example, I have recently been involved in researching children’s rights in Uganda for a global children’s rights advocacy network.

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