I jumped straight into paralegal work at Baker McKenzie after I graduated with a Law degree. After a bit of travelling with friends, I returned to start a Training Contract. I’d seen what it was like working at the Firm, and I wanted to stay. The culture helped persuade me – the people aren’t intimidating, you could talk to and socialise with any colleague and have a great time. It’s really not hierarchical here. Also, there’s such a scale and breadth of opportunity and expertise, that I knew I would learn all I needed to set myself up for the career I wanted. Plus the international opportunities were a huge draw. I love to travel, and to me, combining work and travel is ideal.
I spent two of my Training Contract seats in offices outside of London. First off, I worked for a huge, famous brand. It was amazing to see the work from the perspective of a client, and I felt really close to the projects as I was working on a brand that creates products I use every day!
My final seat was spent in Dubai on secondment. I spent six months there, immersing myself in the culture and getting used to the many differences in work and life. For instance, even the weekends were different – Friday and Saturday were my days off, and I was back to work on Sunday. It reminded me that there are many ways of working around the world, and now I know never to set a deadline for Friday when dealing with a client or colleague in Dubai!
The friendly culture runs deep too. You can see it in the support the Firm offers, from the top down. As a Trainee, I had a supervisor and a Trainee buddy. I’d catch up with them every few weeks, and they would help me progress and improve. They were more senior than me, but junior enough that I could ask them questions comfortably and get advice on how to make the most of my training and get to where I wanted to be in the Firm. Partners will look out for you, they’ll make time to give you guidance.
When COVID-19 broke out, this support was ramped up too. There were coffee mornings and lunches over Zoom that helped us all stay connected. Leadership updated us constantly about the situation, keeping us in the loop about the decisions they were making. It’s been really reassuring to have such a high level of contact and support through these very strange and unsettling times.