March 2023: "One of the main reasons that White & Case appealed to me is because of the guaranteed overseas seat," explains London trainee Steph Lartey. "Not only do you get to try out different areas of the law over your three previous six-month seats, it's a chance to round off your training contract with the chance to work as a trainee in a different country."
With seats in Debt Finance, Capital Markets and Corporate Private Equity under her belt, Steph applied to do her final rotation in the Project Finance team in the Houston, Texas office. "No matter where you go, the Firm is there to support you, with everything from your flights to setting you up in an apartment and connecting you with people in your new office."
Making the choice: Why Houston?
One of the fastest-growing offices in the Firm's 44-strong network across 30 countries, the Houston office opened in 2018. "Houston seems like a really good option because they do a lot of Latin America work, a lot of emerging markets work, but it's slightly different to what is done in London," explains Steph. "So I would get exposure to a whole new market, but still be able to draw on what I had learned so far."
She says that there are definite advantages to working in a smaller office. "The size of the team means that we can all get to really know each other in person. I get to speak to almost everyone in the office every day. It's a nice, informal way to expand my network beyond just the team I'm working with."
'One Firm': What that means in reality
On the other hand, some things are the same, no matter which office you're in: "In terms of the way we do our work here, it's exactly what we do in London. So that's been good to see, because it just means that you can really work with anyone from any office. You know that the way that you're going to do the work is the same. The idea that we are all 'One Firm' around the world comes to life when you actually experience it."
Steph's verdict on her time in Texas
As she comes to the end of her time in Texas, what's her verdict? "The work out here has been really good. I've been given a lot of autonomy and responsibility to run things as if I'm an associate. On the whole you can run with the deal, check in with the partner if you need to, but basically it's your responsibility."
Another aspect of Houston life has appealed to this Londoner: the weather! "Love the weather, and it's great to be somewhere that's not raining all the time. The city is great, with an amazing food scene, which I've definitely enjoyed exploring."
Listen to our interview with Steph about her time in Houston and her career so far in this episode of On The Record with White & Case: