Working within an in-house legal team is very different to working in private practice. The legal team is integrated within the other business service functions, giving valuable exposure to other key areas of the business. I am involved with the day-to-day activities of the business, with significant interaction on specific projects, which has given me real insight into the client’s operations and objectives. This experience has helped me develop a greater understanding of the demands and needs of the business and its legal function.
The type of work I have carried out on a daily basis has been varied and diverse, which has greatly widened my technical knowledge. I have been involved in drafting and negotiating a wide range of commercial agreements in areas including supply and distribution, IT, confidentiality and intellectual property. As part of an in-house team, I have also been required to regularly research and advise on niche points of law outside my scope of expertise, from specific aspects of financial services to trade mark infringement.
Coming into a new environment I had to adjust as quickly and smoothly as possible. Although I have previous experience of managing workloads and deadlines, the demands and pressures placed on an in-house legal team required a fresh approach in prioritising tasks. The business expects clear answers and strategies from the legal team, which has required me to confidently deliver clear and commercially focused advice. I feel I have strengthened and developed my current skills by applying them to new working practices and processes.
The secondment has given me the opportunity to network with a new set of colleagues and an added bonus is a completely new group of friends. I feel I have become an important member of the legal department, and a main point of reference within the business for legal queries. I’ve learned how important it is within the business to be able to quickly build working relationships, be as helpful as possible, and ensure that my advice is presented in a manner that is clear, comprehensible and tailored to the user’s familiarity with the law.
My experience as a secondee, although challenging, has been enjoyable and very rewarding. The support I have received, from both my firm and the client, has been excellent and I have always been made to feel a valued member of the team. As well as expanding my horizons, my secondment experience has certainly helped me to identify what my own aspirations and priorities are for my career development. It has been invaluable for me to work in a new setting, seeing that the skills I already had were transferrable, and that I am able to acquire new skills with confidence and interest. I feel I have benefitted both personally and professionally from this experience and I would encourage other trainees to take secondment opportunities and push themselves that little bit further out of their comfort zone. I will be sorry when my secondment comes to an end but I know I will want to keep in touch with my new friends and colleagues.