Why White & Case?
Whilst at university, I did 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 on a 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.
It can be particularly difficult to articulate why a certain firm, and this is where a vacation scheme is invaluable as it gives you an insight into the firm’s culture and the people. Having completed a vacation scheme at White & Case, I was fortunate enough to have been offered a training contract. 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. Throughout my vacation scheme, I got the impression that people genuinely took an interest in my career trajectory.
The Training Contract
The training contract is a two-year process where trainees sit in four distinct departments, each seat being six months: this effectively allows you to try four different areas of law that you are interested in. So far, I have completed a seat in Project Finance and currently sit in corporate M&A. 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.
Several of White & Case’s practice areas are regarded as some of the best internationally and this reflects the quality of work and high-profile clients that you are afforded the opportunity of working with. The complexity of these deals mean 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!
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. 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.
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. 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.
Additionally, White & Case’s real commitment to an international training contract means that in your final seat you are guaranteed an overseas secondment. For me, this was a real draw towards the firm as I am keen to work with people from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures, and hone my foreign language ability. Correspondingly, the local offices are often smaller than the London office meaning that you are given greater responsibility and so the overseas seat is an excellent training and development opportunity also.