My international secondment: Singapore

by James Hammond, trainee solicitor

Cityscape Singapore

We caught up with James Hammond to find out all about his international secondment and why he'd recommend the experience to any trainee.

Why did you choose to do your training contract at Stephenson Harwood?

I applied to Stephenson Harwood because of the quality of work available, the firm's international capability and their small trainee intake. Working here affords the opportunity to work on highly complex, multi-jurisdictional matters for clients based around the world. The prospect of completing an international secondment within Stephenson Harwood's global network of offices was also a big draw for me.

Why did you choose to complete an international secondment?

I wanted to complete an international secondment as I believe it is a terrific development opportunity. Firstly, to have the opportunity to develop the adaptability to work in another office and to understand and settle into a different culture, and secondly, to much better understand the firm's global offering. I had discussed the Singapore secondment with trainees in the intakes above me who had previously been on secondment, so I had a good idea of how things would be before I arrived. It seems obvious in hindsight but it has struck me during the secondment just how "international" the work here can be. Most of the matters I have been involved in take in multiple jurisdictions - the largest involved nine Southeast Asian countries. I have also had a lot more client contact than I had anticipated prior to joining the Singapore office.

What have you gained from your international secondment?

An important benefit of an international secondment is the confidence developed by being able to successfully adapt to a new environment. It also provides the opportunity to better understand the firm and its practice areas, while building an extended network of relationships with colleagues inside the firm as well as contacts outside the firm. I have developed a greater understanding of the firm's global capability and the cross-selling opportunities that arise because of the firm's international network of offices. Many of the matters I have worked on have involved other offices, and identifying opportunities to develop a client relationship from being a client of a particular practice group or particular office into a client of the firm more broadly will be an important skill to continue to develop.

Why would you recommend others to complete an international secondment?

An international secondment provides real exposure to genuinely international work. The opportunity to understand a new culture, build new relationships and understand the firm's global reach is invaluable. Outside of work, there is an endless list of things to do and places to visit. I think that such an opportunity is particularly valuable during the formative years of your career during which you develop your understanding of your role and the firm and build your internal network.