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From grad to senior associate

February 2023: "As a law student, I was looking for opportunities that would ensure that I had the best development and training at the start of my career, and a firm that would allow me to grow and advance as a lawyer," remembers Chenez Dyer Bray, now a senior associate in the Project Development and Finance Practice in Melbourne, Australia.

Her first step was a clerkship at White & Case, which she says was a great place to begin her career as a lawyer: "I was very fortunate to be exposed to extremely interesting and varied work. The clerkship also made me realize that there was a real opportunity here to be given great experience, training and responsibility, even at a junior level. This, along with the collegial and friendly atmosphere at White & Case, made the decision to start my career at the Firm a no-brainer."

A six-month graduate secondment to Japan

According to Chenez, one career highlight to date has been her graduate secondment to the Firm's Japan office. "Tokyo is not only an amazing place to live for six months, but the chance to make new connections at the Firm, whilst networking with other secondees from other law firms, was invaluable."

She says the benefits were personal as well as professional. "The exposure to a culture very different from my own, as well as areas of law that I had not previously practiced in, really enhanced my learning and gave me a real opportunity to grow as an individual and a professional."

A steep learning curve as a new associate
Following the 18-month graduate program, Chenez joined the Project Finance team in Melbourne. Her first matter presented a serious challenge: "It was a very complex transaction, with multiple stakeholders. I was very fortunate to have had the chance to take on a lot of responsibility. Managing and coordinating all these tasks was a big—but very valuable—learning curve."

A pro bono secondment to the Australian Red Cross

Apart from learning and growing as a commercial lawyer, Chenez explains how she has experienced the Firm's commitment to Global Citizenship for herself. "Throughout my time at the Firm, I have worked on numerous pro bono matters and have been heavily involved in the Pro Bono Committee in Australia. I was afforded the chance to undertake a one-year secondment with the Australian Red Cross Society in their legal team. This was a fantastic experience that really reflected the Firm's strong commitment to giving back in a tangible way."

The importance of a two-way fit

What advice does she have for anyone considering applying to White & Case? She says, "It is vital to try to understand the culture of the Firm and what it may be able to offer you in the long term, and how that aligns with your professional goals. Whilst research can get you some insight into this, I think it is far more valuable to speak to lawyers in the Firm. This includes engaging with both senior lawyers and junior lawyers to understand the type of work you would be doing and what the opportunities for growth are. Part of this also includes doing some reflective work on what you aspire to and what matters to you."

Making her mark

Finally, how does Chenez feel that she has made her mark as a White & Case lawyer in the five years since she joined? "The Firm has given me countless opportunities, but if I had to summarize, it has given me a chance to travel, work on high-profile and complex transactions, connect with clients and colleagues all over the world, and to go on secondment. It has broadened my experiences, whilst developing my professional skills, and has really shaped the lawyer that I am today."