Secondments – Why Do We Go?


Client secondments offer trainees the chance to understand the ins-and-outs of a particular client and to test their skills as they become another member of a client’s in-house legal team. Bristows offers all trainees the chance to spend three months at a client. I’ve recently returned from a three month stint at a global IT services provider and it gave me the opportunity to test myself in a different environment.

In addition to getting to understand more about the client’s business operations and dealing with a wide range of matters, I really enjoyed getting to know and becoming part of another team outside of the firm, working with individuals from across the UK and Global Legal team as well as the internal “clients”. These were individuals and teams from across the client’s business groups and departments. It’s a great chance to practice those “interviewing and advising” skills from the LPC on your “internal clients” as you will have direct contact with these individuals and teams and have to understand the background and contexts to legal queries to establish the problem, determine the next steps and explore what legal issues need addressing.

The role of a trainee on secondment is to provide support to the Legal team across a wide range of matters and to also take on matters of your own. This can include providing advice on legal matters relating to the client’s own client-facing operations as well as working on internal projects. For example, I reviewed a variety of different types of agreements, drafted amendments, suggested how issues could be addressed and negotiated, researched complex legal areas and also worked on internal projects covering matters such as Intellectual Property and Data Protection.

Overall it was a fantastic experience, where I was given a large degree of responsibility to deal with matters while receiving support from the rest of the internal team, who were always there to discuss thoughts around complex legal problems and help out with any questions. All secondments can vary in the nature of the work a trainee is exposed to but it’s a great opportunity to explore what it’s like to work in-house, appreciate the pressures that clients face in their day-to-day operations and realise that this is the ultimate experience in “commercial awareness”.

Katy Gibson