Like plenty of Australian lawyers, the idea of packing up and heading over to London for a couple of years’ experience with a firm there had crossed our minds.
One of the world’s largest cities, Europe on the doorstep, plenty of travel opportunities, the prospect of big-ticket global deals on which to advise… We had prepared a convincing case for ourselves.
We researched the market, reading with part amusement and part horror of the availability of 24x7 secretaries, and the presence of ‘dormitories’ within some firms.
What we didn’t want to find ourselves landed in was a London lock-down, spending our every waking hour entrenched within a firm before being sent on our way with a happy handshake. This coupled with our reservations about getting ‘lost’ in the people at a big city law firm in London, was in the back of our minds when we started contemplating a London move.
We did, however, persevere with our investigations. We also made enquiries with our respective Australian partners, who were supportive, agreeing that the experience would be beneficial for us as well as our firms.
So how did we end up working with Herbert Smith? Well, for one thing there is no dormitory — although there are enough internal conveniences to make life easier when work gets busy including a cafe and restaurant.
Another point of difference was the recruitment process. We spoke with several firms with a variety of interview styles and recruitment objectives.
The process with Herbert Smith stood out for us both. It was thorough yet efficient and they were in regular direct contact with us throughout. During the interviews, they focussed their questions on our experience and the sort of work we wanted to do in the UK and were keen to find out what we wanted to achieve from a move to London. They were open about their interest in attracting high-quality people and finding the right lawyers for the job.
Prior to leaving Australia, we knew of the possibility of our Australian experience being ‘discounted’. We rationalised that it perhaps wasn’t the worst thing that could happen to us during our time in London. Better to go in a slightly lower level, and allow yourself some time to adapt to the different practices and procedures.
As it turned out, we need not have worried too much. Our time at Herbert Smith was set to dispel any concerns we had, and we settled quickly and comfortably into London life and European Law.