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International outlook and challenging work

For Josh Hirschowitz, bigger wasn't necessarily better when it came to choosing the right law firm to start his career.

"White & Case seemed to be the 'Goldilocks' size—just right! The trainee intake is not so big that you have to compete for interesting and substantive work. And it's not so small that there isn't a support network of other trainees—that's important both professionally and socially." One other opportunity was a decisive pull factor: "The guaranteed overseas seat was very appealing." 

A global Firm with a strong London identity

White & Case's unique market position was another 'just right' factor in Josh's decision. "The Firm competes with the Magic Circle in London and EMEA region whilst also being an American firm with an established presence and network in the Americas. This makes for interesting clients and work." His first impressions reinforced the global nature of the Firm and the people who work here. "Almost everyone seemed to have an international element in their personal story, which I found appealing." 

He says that this international outlook is all part of the experience of working in London: "Working at White & Case in London harnesses the position and energy of London as a global and outward-looking city, and this is reflected in both my colleagues and clients." Josh adds that the approachability of partners was a positive surprise for a new trainee. "Partners don't lock themselves away in ivory towers but are interested in engaging with more junior members of the team. This sense of flat hierarchy extends right across the spectrum of years qualified, with a fair share of the partnership having started out as trainees."

Valuable and varied experience in each new seat

So what kind of work does a trainee get involved with? Josh shares the highlights of his first three seats: "My first seat was in Bank Finance, and I worked on an accession to a deal that had a high-yield bond element running in conjunction with a revolving credit facility. Towards the end of this deal, I was trusted to manage the process of the accession until completion, which was exciting, nerve-wracking and satisfying in equal measure.

My second seat was in Disputes, where I honed my research skills investigating matters ranging from the future of arbitration in light of technology for an associate who was chairing a discussion on this matter, to carefully considering what the word 'payable' could mean in the context of tax indemnity given to our client.

I then joined the equity team of the Capital Markets department and so familiarised myself with the nuts and bolts of a prospectus. Of particular interest I think are the considerations that are given to the inherent tension between regulations which require certain disclosures so as to give potential investors sufficient information to invest, whilst the prospectus simultaneously serves as a marketing document wanting to portray the company in the best possible light. Since then, I've moved to New York to sit with the Bank Finance team for my overseas seat."

Defining 'challenging work'

We talk a lot about 'challenging work'—what does this mean in Josh's experience? His answer: "Firstly, the work itself is complex. It will likely be something which hasn't been done before, and so precedents will take you only so far. Secondly, there will usually be a time pressure and so managing this is tricky, especially late at night. Thirdly, balancing the first and second demands is a challenge—doing a piece of work to a world-class standard whilst under tough time deadlines. Fourthly, you'll likely be working against people equally as clever and motivated as you, so you have to be switched on. Finally, as a trainee, often you have limited visibility as to your workload, meaning plans can often change last-minute. This can be personally challenging."

Advice for future applicants

What advice does Josh have for anyone considering applying to the Firm and how can they make their application stand out? "There is a wealth of information on the Firm, produced by both the Firm (how the Firm sees itself) and external publishers (how the Firm is perceived). Find a practice group or a specific deal/case that interests you and then explain why you have found it interesting. Make your application personal to both you and the Firm."

Finally, what are Josh's top interview tips for potential applicants? Practice. Go through your application and ask questions on it. Answer these questions. Ask yourself questions to these answers and answer these questions too.

Also, remember that you can alter the direction the interview takes. If you don't know the answer, set out your thinking. Don't be afraid to take a pause—it's better to take a moment to reflect and think than blurt out the first thing that comes to mind."

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