About two years ago, I sat down to determine the answers to some of life's great questions: "How exactly is "Clerkship" pronounced?", "What is "commercial law"?" and "Which law firm has the best cafés nearby?". As I entered the Clerkship application process and set about working out what I thought I wanted to do, and where I wanted to do it, I tried to focus on what I wanted in my career. For me, that came down to: interesting work, friendly people and international opportunities. Applying this framework to my research of firms, Baker McKenzie emerged as a clear frontrunner, and I was thrilled to undertake a Seasonal Clerkship at the Firm in February 2019.
My Seasonal Clerkship
I was fortunate to be placed in the Corporate Markets practice group during my Seasonal Clerkship. Throughout my month at the Firm, I was provided with fantastic learning opportunities and was fortunate to receive incredible mentoring and support from my buddy and supervising Partner. I also Clerked at a very social time of year and enjoyed dumplings, Moonlight Cinema and one particularly memorable evening of lawn bowls.
Following my Seasonal Clerkship, I continued to work at the Firm as a Paralegal in the Dispute Resolution practice group. This experience reinforced my desire to join the Firm as a Graduate and helped to establish genuine friendships with employees around the office.
Off to London!
After receiving an offer to commence as a Graduate in March 2020, I applied for the International Clerkship program. I was very fortunate to receive an offer to undertake an International Clerkship in the Firm's London office, and before I knew it I was leaving the comfort of Melbourne's summer for the harsh cold of London's winter!
I was very excited to be placed in the Corporate M&A team in London. Whilst researching the Firm's offices and practice areas in preparing my application, I was drawn to Baker McKenzie's experience and expertise in advising on multi-jurisdictional transactions. With offices in nearly 50 countries, the Firm is uniquely positioned to assist clients in coordinating large-scale, cross-border deals. Hence, working in the London office, which often sits at the epicentre of these global deals, was a fantastic opportunity.
Going from Melbourne, with an office of about 150 people, to London, which has over 900 staff, I was initially daunted by the size and scale of the office. Beyond the sheer number of people, the Firm takes up an entire building - complete with a massive café (which offers smashed avo and poached eggs for a much more reasonable price than any café in Melbourne). However, despite the office's size, I was immediately put at ease by the friendliness and welcoming nature of the Corporate M&A team. It certainly helped that, in the open-plan office, I was metres away from two Australian lawyers!
On the work front, I witnessed first-hand the central role of the London office as I assisted with transactional and advisory matters. I particularly enjoyed working on a piece of advice on the enforceability of electronic signatures across European jurisdictions. Given the current remote working environment, I did not realise how relevant and timely this advice would prove to be! I was also given the opportunity to assist the Dispute Resolution practice group with a matter that is "classic Bakers": a dispute between a Chinese client and their English staff over dealings in Italy with companies based in South Korea and Kuwait! During conference calls for this dispute, I was struck by the level of interaction and cooperation between the Firm's offices, which gave me an appreciation for the Firm's capabilities to serve clients seamlessly across multiple jurisdictions (and languages!).
After the 5 o'clock bell
Although I loved my time in the office, I also had a fantastic time exploring London. From the historic pub that is conveniently located next door to the office, to the plethora of West End theatres scattered through neighbouring suburbs, I was never bored! I saw an English Premier League game at Emirates Stadium and found the time to visit friends in Oxford and in Portugal (and was amazed at the sheer number of destinations on the departures board at the airport). I was also fortunate to be at the office for the first-ever Corporate Trivia Night, where I found myself on the winning team (as much as I would love to take credit for the win, my trivia ability was nowhere near the prowess of my teammates). This was a great opportunity to socialise with everyone outside of work, and to gain an entertaining insight into the team!
I have always been interested in working overseas but never expected that I would receive the opportunity to do so at such an early stage of my career. I am incredibly grateful for this immersive experience and am very excited to continue learning and developing at Baker McKenzie.