I first came to the firm on the winter vacation scheme, while I was studying Law at KCL. Although I grew up in Singapore, I was keen on the idea of staying abroad after my studies and working overseas – plus, the incredible global footprint of Norton Rose Fulbright had meant they were always on my radar.
When I did get here for the vacation scheme, I honestly enjoyed myself so much. Everyone that I worked with, everyone that I met; they were all incredibly supportive and gave me constant feedback on what I was doing. They made me feel like I was part of the team.
Arbitration and communication
After I joined as a trainee, my first big piece of work was assisting a large-scale arbitration; a dispute between two Middle Eastern telecommunications providers. It was a fun learning curve for me. Besides being close to the evidence and helping to find legal cases in support of our arguments, I enjoyed being immersed in the niche technical terms of the telecoms industry.
I came into the team at a time the arbitration was just going to trial. That was a fascinating experience, because it was very different from what I expected from a court trial. The setting is much more private and informal, and since we had not engaged a barrister, we did our own advocacy.
One of the most memorable parts of the case was helping to reassure witnesses and take their minds off the pressures of the case. I spoke to people from many different cultures, and learnt about their backgrounds and how our client’s business was structured. It taught me a lot about client care – the simple value of being a reliable, reassuring presence. Aside from our legal product, our client was grateful for us calmly walking them through what was a stressful time for them.
A change of scene
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced so far was when I moved from disputes into banking. It’s a very different environment, and you have to develop a different skillset very quickly. While contentious work can involve more out-of-the-box thinking, banking can initially come across as being far more logical and process-driven – and it can be a tricky mental shift.
On that front though, I was really fortunate because I worked with partners and associates who were very keen to mentor me. Even though one of the associates worked very long hours, he would take the time (on one occasion, even two hours) just to sit with me and explain basic concepts, and to answer any questions I had.
These weren’t just questions relating to our immediate workload either. As the kind of financings we worked on were quite technical, I was grateful that he would make sure I understood how the different documents fit together and appreciated the bigger picture. At the same time, he would also give me general career advice, so that I could plan for what I might want to do beyond that seat.
Making a difference for others
Throughout my training contract, I’ve had the chance to support others too, being involved, on an ad hoc basis, with our social mobility initiatives. For example, the firm recently ran its flagship social mobility scheme in the form of the PRIME work experience programme. Some of the students who participated were the first in their families to have a shot at going to university, or who came from an income bracket where there aren’t as many opportunities to access a sector like law.
It was very humbling to take those students around the firm and give them advice on their aspirations, on navigating school, and on applying for careers in legal / non-legal sectors alike. It feels exciting: as with the firm’s other initiatives, we’re not just looking at improving diversity within Norton Rose Fulbright, but also looking at intersectionality and considering how we can help improve social mobility more broadly.
Our commitment goes beyond legal careers too. I’ve also been part of some really great pro bono work with places like Croydon Law Centre. As part of the NRF Charity Commission, some of us were also invited to a breakfast session at Centrepoint, a charity which works with vulnerable youths who are at risk of homelessness or are homeless. The emphasis was not just about helping them in the short-term by giving them a roof over their heads, but working with them over a sustained period to help them gain the confidence to go out into the job market. For me, it’s really meaningful that the firm supports charities like that, and that trainees have the chance to be involved.
‘After I joined as a trainee, my first big piece of work was a large-scale arbitration; a dispute between two Middle Eastern telecommunications providers.’‘One of the most memorable parts of the case for me was helping to reassure witnesses, taking their minds off the pressures of the case.’
‘Throughout my training contract, I’ve had the chance to support others too, being involved on an ad hoc basis with our social mobility initiatives.’
‘I’ve also been part of some really great pro bono work with places like Centre Point.’