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My client secondment with Volkswagen Group’s in-house legal team

Amy Leech, a second year trainee at Shoosmiths shares how her client secondment has been one of the most rewarding and knowledge building experiences of her career so far.

Getting asked to spend six months of my training contract with one of Shoosmiths’ biggest clients was always going to be a fantastic experience. Whilst initially nervous about being face to face with a client every day, my secondment at Volkswagen Group UK Limited (VWG) turned into one of the most rewarding and knowledge building experiences of my career so far.

VWG has two Shoosmiths trainees on secondment with them who rotate every six months. Having a fellow trainee alongside me for the six-month ride helped the first day nerves enormously. It’s great being able to share the experience and bounce ideas off each other throughout the seat.

Once familiar with the systems and settled in with the fantastic legal team, the work starts to come in thick and fast. There is nothing like a commercial secondment to try out different types of work that would normally encompass four or five separate seats.  The legal areas I experienced during the six months included commercial contracts, commercial litigation, regulatory, data protection and compliance, marketing and advertising, intellectual property and competition law.

There is no doubt that the seat is high pressured. VWG’s business expects responsiveness and continuity from the legal team. I have been involved in numerous meetings with the business and I’ve really had to learn to prioritise and be organised to succeed in the in-house environment.

I cannot recommend a client secondment enough; it is incredibly powerful for your career, especially as a junior lawyer. It changes the way you think and approach work from a private practice perspective, as you experience first-hand how the business like their external advice structured and delivered. A client secondment will also help your CV stand out against others when it comes to applying for NQ jobs. If any opportunities arise, say yes and I promise you won’t regret it!

My main highlights and favourite areas of the secondment were:

  • Actively participating in contract negotiations and drafting for three high pressured multi-million pound business critical logistics contracts
  • Working on marketing and advertising matters including marketing contracts, defending Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) complaints and advert approvals
  • Getting to experience TUPE negotiations as part of wider commercial contract negotiations
  • Working inside the business when GDPR went live and seeing the real impact it had on VWG’s business and how it currently processes data
  • Being invited to join the Finance and Legal team day out (it’s not all work and no play!)

Shoosmiths offers a number of client secondment opportunities during the trainee solicitor programme both in the UK and abroad. It’s a real selling point enabling trainee solicitors to build their networks early on in their careers by understanding the business and legal issues from a client’s perspective.

Shoosmiths has worked closely with VWG’s in-house legal team in Milton Keynes for over 10 years. The innovative collaboration between Shoosmiths and VWG was described as "standout" when recognised in the FT Innovative Lawyers Awards 2014.

For more information on client secondments, read Dil’s blog ‘Second(ment) to non’, or Stephanie’s blog ‘Why secondments are beneficial to trainee solicitors’.

If you’d like to apply for a summer vacation placement or training contract at Shoosmiths, click here.

For anything else you, you can contact the graduate recruitment team via twitter or email.

Disclaimer

This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

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