Choosing which law firm to apply to when one is still at university can be a daunting prospect. Which firm to choose? Magic Circle, Silver Circle or American? Regional, national or international? What made S&C stand out of the jungle of city law firms for me was, perhaps ironically, its size. With roughly 80 lawyers working at the London office and an intake of 5 trainee solicitors a year I felt like this would be a place where I would be valued not as “just another trainee” but as a colleague being given responsibility early on. At the same time, I knew that I wanted to be part of a firm that was working on the most high-profile deals and the most challenging cases. I was looking for a truly international firm, not only in terms of legal matters but also in terms of the people who work there.
The General Practice approach is what made S&C stand out to me. It incorporates M&A, private equity, capital markets, finance and restructuring and project finance. This rather fluid approach to these seemingly distinct practice areas makes for a collaborative environment and allows trainees to have a peek into any one of them. Because of the small size of the London office and because of the general practice approach I get to witness all aspects of a deal and it never feels like I’m working boxed-in within a particular area without any context. This helps me understand not only the wider-ranging legal considerations, but also the underlying business and strategy dimension. Moreover, trainees are truly valued as an integral part of the team from day one. By the end of my second week at the office I had already drafted and submitted two documents to the European Commission – work which otherwise an associate would have completed.
Perhaps most important of all when choosing a firm are the people that work there. At S&C I felt at home from the first time I set foot into the office. When I interviewed for my vacation scheme there were no trick questions, no traps to fall in to – just a genuine interest in me as a person. Having now started my training contract everyone from support staff to partner is extremely welcoming and helpful. Asking questions is heavily encouraged, putting me at ease and giving me confidence in completing my work. All in all everyone at S&C helps to forge a truly inclusive and open-minded environment.
The Vacation Scheme
The two week vacation scheme is a great opportunity to get to know the firm and the kind of work one might expect to be confronted with as a trainee. I sat in on a call between a partner and a client, was given research and drafting tasks. Whenever I was given work, the associates really took their time to explain the background of the deal to me so that I could understand the context within which I was working which made all the difference. With social events organized throughout the two weeks, time just flew by!
The first couple of weeks at S&C were filled with practical training sessions, including library training and sessions on typical trainee tasks. The highlight was a week at the New York office where 150 US qualified associates were starting with us. Being sent there from our small London office really made me feel as a part both of the firm and the team in the wider sense. Again, this illustrates the emphasis S&C places on creating a collaborative and pleasant working environment – be it within the same office or cross-border.