Before starting my traineeship I had the opportunity to spend some time living and studying overseas. I did law and French at undergrad, so was expected to spend my third year in a French-speaking country. I chose to study at Sciences Po in Paris, where I took French law classes in French. It was at the end of this year that I did my summer placement with Brodies.
First stop: Paris
I absolutely loved living in France, and getting to know a different culture and a fairly different legal system. The experiences I had, and the challenges that come with getting used to living in another country, ended up being some of the things I spoke about during my summer placement interview, and then again during my interviews for the traineeship. I've found that speaking another language or having lived overseas is always a good USP to throw in. Spending a year exploring Paris, baguette in hand, wasn't bad either!
Now that I'm past the interview stage and one year into my traineeship, my time in Paris still comes in handy. When I meet French people through work or even just other people who have lived in France or overseas in general, I have an instant connection with them. I've also been able to use my language skills when corresponding with clients in France and Belgium, especially during my first seat in the corporate team.
Second stop: Amsterdam
Having loved my year in Paris so much, I decided one international experience wasn't enough and went looking for another. I chose to do a Masters before starting the Diploma, and settled on an LLM in European Private Law at the University of Amsterdam. The courses that I took on my LLM have really helped to prepare me for the international work we get involved in - cross-border mergers and international arbitrations, to name a couple.
The impact on being a trainee
My team members have been really interested to know more about other jurisdictions. I've even done a presentation to my current team (commercial litigation) on how "good faith" in contracts (basically a presumption that those involved in a contract will deal with each other honestly and fairly) works in other jurisdictions like France and Germany, and how it compares to our own law.
My knowledge of how European private law works has also given me a different perspective for tackling legal issues here in Scotland. Often I'll remember a case we talked about on the LLM from another jurisdiction with similar facts to a case we're dealing with, and it can be helpful to know how the courts dealt with that matter, even if it was overseas.
For me, spending time overseas has benefited me hugely - both personally and professionally - and I'd absolutely recommend living in another country, if you get the opportunity. If you're lucky enough to have already done so, make sure you include your experience in your traineeship application - this will help to make your application stand out.