Jaya Bagri

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Why did you apply to DLA Piper?

During my time at university studying Law with Spanish and Spanish Law, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Madrid for a year, that experience highlighted the importance of having an international element in my career. After researching DLA Piper, what stood out to me was the international reach of the firm, along with opportunities throughout your career at DLA Piper to participate in international and client secondments. The international presence of the firm allows trainees to gain exposure to multijurisdictional matters, as well as working with international teams.

The importance of pro bono work to the firm really stood out to me and it was clear from the induction and during my training contract that the firm is dedicated to pro bono work and we are encouraged at all levels to participate and dedicate time to pro bono work. This made me realise that no matter what our role within the firm is, we can really make a difference. An initiative that resonated with me in particular was DLA Piper’s New Perimeter global pro bono initiative, this includes work for social and economic development, as well as specific support for women’s advancement.

It was important to me to build a career at a firm that supported the same values and ethos as my own. Internally I discovered DLA Piper has a variety of initiatives such as LAW (Leadership Alliance for Women) and MOSAIC, a people network focused on progression of everyone at the firm regardless of cultural and ethnic background, race or religion. This made me aware that the firm is dedicated to creating a diverse, inclusive and supportive working environment, and somewhere I would feel valued.

Did you complete DLA Piper’s  Summer Internship?

I completed the internship in 2018, the first week of the internship was spent in London with the entire intern cohort. The firm gave daily insight sessions into their practice groups, sectors, initiatives and innovation, and the Graduate Recruitment Team ensured we had great exposure to all aspects of the firm. A moment that stood out to me was receiving a talk from the Global co-CEO Simon Levine, this highlighted how much the firm valued incoming trainees and the emphasis on being people-focused. Most evenings the firm had organised socials which allowed the cohort to network and build connections throughout the different offices. I then spent two weeks in one of the firm’s regional offices, where I experienced work in Construction and Litigation. Throughout the whole internship the firm was very welcoming, and instantly you felt valued and inspired by the work the firm carries out.

How are you finding your Training Contract?

My experience so far during the training contract has been more than what I could have expected and has been overwhelmingly positive. My first seat was with the Real Estate team, a practice group I have thoroughly enjoyed. I have been involved in producing draft lease and licence documents, legal application documents, transaction documents, attending virtual client meetings, and conducting legal research.  I have also had the opportunity as a trainee to participate in global initiatives. In my first six months of the training contract I participated in a New Perimeter pro bono project in partnership with the Zambia Institute of Advanced Legal Education (ZIALE), this project involved running a week long workshop and teaching negotiation skills and joint venture agreements to over 100 students. The experience was transformative and not only did I have an impact on the lives of the students but the experience allowed me to develop personally with confidence and presentation skills and professionally. Despite this experience being virtual, it was incredible to see how my role as a trainee at DLA Piper was able to give me access to international projects, and the ability to use this position to make a real difference, the experience will remain a highlight of my career and in the future I hopeto have the opportunity to visit in person.

In addition to global pro bono projects I have had the opportunity to participate in national pro bono projects such as Women in Law for Women Refugees (WLfWR), this project has allowed me to become a mentor and provide support and advice to women refugees seeking professional guidance. This shows how versatile your role as a trainee is and the skills you acquire are relevant in a variety of situations. Similarly I have participated in extensive research projects relating to combatting wildlife crime internationally, and SESG research relating to various sectors.

This snapshot of experience shows how varied the work is and how no week is the same at DLA Piper. It also highlights how many opportunities are available to trainees, and the confidence gained as trainees as each project comes with a high level of independence and responsibility. Similarly, with the firm adopting a One-UK policy, whereby the workload is distributed across offices regionally, it has meant that despite being based in a regional office there is still the exposure to high value, complex matters.

How have you found working in a virtual environment?

Despite my training contract starting virtually, the firm ensured we had everything necessary to work from home, and provided a safe environment in case there was a need to go into the office. Before starting the induction we received a large delivery of computer equipment to set up before starting the training contract, this even included hand sanitiser, tissues and stationery which was a very thoughtful touch. My team currently has two weekly virtual meetings where we are all encouraged to discuss what we are currently working on, any internal update webinars and events that are upcoming, and to have a general catch up. During this time the team has also made a conscious effort to call instead of email when discussing work so no one feels isolated and alone, and to promote healthy conversation despite working virtually. The Graduate Recruitment and Development team have been exceptional with supporting trainees and a huge support during virtual working, they run weekly drop-in sessions, and facilitate weekly trainee catch up calls so the cohort across all offices is able to connect, they also provide individual catch up calls and continuously promote mental wellbeing and a healthy work life balance. The firm as a whole has encouraged everyone to maintain a work life balance and to enjoy annual leave, there is no pressure on trainees to stay logged on until late hours unless there are work demands, and the teams work collaboratively to ensure support and guidance is provided when needed.

As a trainee you cannot help but feel an overwhelming sense of pride by working at DLA Piper, you are valued as an employee and encouraged to participate in meaningful and value driven projects and initiatives. The firm provides a supportive environment that cultivates long lasting friendships on an international scale. At a time where the firm is at the forefront of innovation and forward-thinking with a purposeful dedication to concepts such as SESG, there is no better time to build a career here.