Choosing between law firms whilst at university is a somewhat tricky, confusing and daunting process. However, S&C stood out to me for several reasons. Not only did it have a formidable international reputation for high quality cross-border work, but it also allowed me the chance to develop in a small intake and small-team environment, working closely with partners and associates from day one. This offered an excellent environment to develop in professionally. However, perhaps more importantly for me was that it offered an environment in which I did not feel like a “cog in a machine”, but someone whose opinion actually mattered. Given my international background, too, the option to gain experience in one of several international offices was a pleasant added bonus.
Two aspects to the work at S&C are important to highlight. Firstly, S&C takes a generalist approach – although a trainee is assigned a “seat” in a particular department, it is easy to find yourself working on a project financing one day and a restructuring another. As an example, today I have produced a memorandum on various legal aspects of restructuring relevant to a client; researched and written academically on credit derivatives; and also done some legal research into the implications of a new tax treaty. The varied nature of the work which I receive not only keeps me interested day in day out, but also provides invaluable training from a professional perspective.
Secondly, the work is international in the truest sense of the word. Small teams of lawyers at S&C deal with matters involving clients, law and counsel from all around the world. This keeps you on your toes at all times, as you are quickly expected to be able to handle complex questions involving international aspects that would otherwise be entrusted to associates. Furthermore, if you are lucky enough to be dual-qualified, the international nature of the work and the small teams staffed on deals will mean that you can get involved in all sorts of aspects of transactions that are rarely on offer to trainees.
To me, this was probably the most important aspect of choosing S&C. As I mentioned above, it does not feel like you are a “cog in the machine” here. From interviewing for my vacation scheme to my time at the office, people have expressed a genuine interest in me and have been both supportive and encouraging. Even when associates and partners have been extremely busy, they have often taken time out to give me feedback on my work or more generally just to check in and make me feel at home. S&C also offers a host of events for new joiners (including a week-long trip to the head office in New York) that are designed to help you feel at home and let you know that there’s always someone who you can go to for help if you need it.
The Vacation Scheme
The two week vacation scheme is a great opportunity to get to know the Firm, the people and the work we do. I was given a host of different interesting tasks, met a lot of the people with whom I work today, and was really impressed with how much effort the partners, associates and trainees all made to make me feel included. People took their time to explain the background of deals to me, to introduce me to others and show me what life is like at the Firm. Not only this, but I was always made to feel comfortable and at home.
There are a range of programs at S&C to help your professional development. To name a few, we have regular formal training sessions; group catch ups; lunch-time training sessions; direct (informal) feedback from partners and associates; and formal mid-seat and end-of-seat reviews. Whilst that may sound daunting on paper, it really helps you get better at what you do and people are always kind and supportive in their feedback.