Without it sounding like too much of a cliché, I don't believe I'd be in the position I am at the moment, had I not gained experience working overseas.

My parents live in Switzerland so I was able to take full advantage of this immediately after university. I wrote my dissertation on the European laws in force during the time of the 2016 refugee crisis so I was keen to get some practical experience in the field. I applied for an internship with a human rights non-governmental organisation called International Bridges to Justice, which is an anti-torture organisation set up to help lawyers in developing countries, to increase access to justice. This was a great opportunity to work in Geneva and see first-hand how the international organisations operate.

I gained a lot of experience from this and although there was the human rights aspect, a lot of the job involved drafting tenders for grants, to help fund the organisation.

My aim during my year out was to try and split my time by gaining some human rights experience and then some commercial experience. After spending five months with International Bridges to Justice I began a legal internship with the International Hockey Federation. I've always been interested in a variety of sports so I was delighted when the opportunity to work there arose. Mixing with the various organisations based in Lausanne and working on a variety of large commercial contracts which covered all aspects of the federation e.g. media, sponsorship, players' contracts and overviewing the anti-doping procedure was great for my personal development and I quickly realised I was probably more suited to a commercial role.

In terms of what I gained, I would say that the experience as a whole was invaluable. Working in both Lausanne and Geneva with colleagues from all over the world means you get a sense of working in different environments and different cultures. The common working language was English but being in the French-speaking part of Switzerland meant that I was able to practice French on a daily basis. In this way, the experience of living and working overseas was not only beneficial for my professional development but on a personal level too.

Whenever I attend events for prospective trainees or people who are applying to university, I always make a point of highlighting the benefits of working or studying overseas. The opportunity to learn a new language and get out of your comfort zone, particularly today when the modern workplace can be multi-national and multi-cultural, is one that cannot be passed up.

Both internships were brilliant for my own development and I think it made the transition to the traineeship much easier. I was able to transfer a lot of the skills I picked up over the year, into what I'm doing now.


Stephen Flynn

Trainee at Brodies LLP