I was very keen to go on secondment during my traineeship, so was delighted when I was given the opportunity to do so with a major financial institution. I was unsure of exactly what to expect, but I knew that an experience outwith the firm would broaden my experience of working with other professionals, push me to improve my business knowledge and give me the chance to learn new skills.
What did I do there?
I worked within the retail division in the mortgages legal team. A large part of my work involved supporting the relevant business areas by answering any legal queries that they had and helping them to deal with complaints. Before drafting my advice, I often had to undertake research in relation to a particular point of law or a customer’s past contact with the institution.
Another focus of my work was drafting and proof reading terms and conditions (and accompanying literature) for various mortgage accounts. I also spent time reviewing and analysing historic terms and conditions documents to find information required to help with future projects.
Aside from my day to day work, I had the chance to attend various trainings on different aspects of banking and its regulation, as well as on the specific business of the firm. There was also time for team bonding and community involvement, including gardening at a local children’s respite house – part of which involved preparing the ground for a go-kart track!
What did I learn?
My technical knowledge in relation to retail banking, and mortgages in particular, was vastly increased. Also, I became skilled in communicating with colleagues from across the business in a way that was easy for them to understand – avoiding legal jargon.
However, for me the best thing I took away from the experience was gaining more understanding about how large businesses operate and how lawyers can actively get involved to help make the business successful- from both a financial and ethical perspective. In house lawyers have the clear role of advising on risk, regulation and other legal issues but when lawyers really engage with the business reasons for queries coming their way, they can often bring new ideas and perspectives on issues not traditionally seen as within their sphere. Of course, this does not need to be restricted to in-house lawyers – all commercial lawyers have the opportunity to really add value to clients’ businesses.
Thinking about going on secondment?
If you are thinking ahead to applying for placements and traineeships this year, have you thought about whether the firms you are considering offer secondment opportunities?
If you are a current trainee, do you have the chance to apply for a secondment or could you speak with your firm to see if one could be arranged?
Going on secondment was a highlight of my traineeship. If you get the chance – go for it!
On January 22, 2015