My international secondment: Seoul

by Max Darke, trainee solicitor

Cityscape Seoul

With an international background, Max Darke was drawn to the unique opportunity to work in and experience another culture and, ultimately, become a better lawyer.

Why did you choose to apply to Stephenson Harwood?

It was Stephenson Harwood’s reputation in the shipping sector that attracted me. Stephenson Harwood was, and is, a leader in giving trade-specific advice to its clients, not only responding to real-time situations and disputes, but also advising within the context of the challenges facing the industry.

Why did you want to join an international law firm?

Born in Cairo, growing up in Dubai and having worked in Lisbon, international travel and understanding different cultures has become natural; an international law firm dealing with clients centred overseas and multi-jurisdictional matters, therefore, comes as an instinctive fit. Where the nature of complex transactions and disputes is global and the structure of law firms is necessarily client-driven, to perform the more challenging work for significant market players, only an international law firm can fit the bill. It’s this type of work that is most rewarding for someone wishing to be stretched in order to become, ultimately, a better lawyer.

What made you want to apply for an international secondment?

An international secondment is a unique opportunity to work in and experience another global metropolis besides London for six months. It offers the chance to understand a different business and legal environment set in an unfamiliar culture on the far side of the world.

Why did you choose to apply for the secondment in particular? What made this opportunity stand out for you?

Stephenson Harwood is one of only a handful of international law firms offering a trainee secondment to Seoul. Being a new and expanding office, Seoul offers the chance to take on the high-level of responsibility that comes from a smaller team. Since the ‘Miracle on the Han River’, South Korea’s growing pre-eminence in the shipbuilding industry makes it a fascinating time to work there amid a nascent international legal market.

How do you think the secondment will contribute to your career development and future career progression?

A secondment to Seoul will provide invaluable exposure to challenging legal work which serves as a perfect transition from a trainee to a qualified lawyer. At the same time expanding and broadening my network of contacts and colleagues will build my understanding of the firm and its clients.

What’s the best thing about working at Stephenson Harwood?

I've really enjoyed the varied work –  each case bringing its own set of facts and a case will often only come to us when the stakes are high, both in terms of its complexity or value.