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The White & Case overseas seat experience

“This is the perfect opportunity to understand and appreciate the important nuances of different working cultures”

Their bags are packed and they’re on their way! Just before they depart for their overseas seat, we asked London trainees Christopher, Harriet and Viraen about what they are looking forward to in the coming six months.


First of all, was the prospect of a guaranteed overseas seat an important factor for you when applying to White & Case?

Harriet: Having studied languages at university, during which time I worked abroad for a year, I knew what a great experience working abroad would be and the fact that White & Case guaranteed this for all trainees was a big draw for me.

Christopher: Absolutely. I’ve always been interested in experiencing new places and meeting new people. The opportunity to spend time in a new working environment and building relationships with clients and colleagues will be an invaluable experience. The guaranteed overseas seat is undoubtedly one of the Firm’s biggest selling points and separates White & Case from its competitors.

So how does the overseas seat process work – can you choose where to go? How much input do you have?

Christopher: Every trainee has to submit an application. You rank in order of preference the practice areas that you would like to apply to and submit an accompanying cover letter explaining the reasons for your particular choices. 

Once this is submitted, the graduate resourcing partner committee will meet to decide on the allocation, taking into account everyone’s preferences. The whole process, from receiving the application form to confirmation of your seat, takes about three weeks.

Viraen: There is scope to make a business case about why you should be sent to a particular location. There is generally a lot of trainee input in regards to where they will end up going. A trainee might not get their first choice of department if it is oversubscribed, but they will likely get their second choice if this is the case. 


Regarding the work that you’ll be doing, what are you most looking forward to about your upcoming seat?

Harriet: I’m going to Hong Kong, and am looking forward to getting some exposure to jurisdictions that I haven’t worked in before, such as China and Cambodia.

Christopher: I will be sitting in the corporate team in Dubai and am particularly looking forward to the variety of work on offer. The department does both international and regional work for a breadth of clients, ranging from financial institutions, alternative capital providers, sovereign wealth funds and family offices, so I am really looking forward to experiencing working for such a diverse client base.

Have you received any advice on what to expect?

Viraen: Yes. I have spoken to a number of newly qualified associates who have worked in the Paris office for their overseas seat. The Graduate Development team has very helpfully put me in touch with associates who have been able to answer any questions that I have had.

Christopher: There are a number of newly qualified associates who have completed their overseas seat in the Dubai office. They have given advice on what to expect in terms of the type of work and the office culture, as well as recommendations on things to do and places to go while out there. The trainees who are currently in Dubai on their overseas seat have looped myself and the two other incoming Dubai trainees into a mailing list with trainees from other firms with offices there.


Apart from work, what’s most exciting about your new seat?

Harriet: I’m looking forward to being in Asia. Hong Kong is such a vibrant city and also promises great travel opportunities for the weekends!

Viraen:  Summertime in Paris. Enough said!

How do you think that the overseas seat will benefit your career?

Christopher: The overseas seat provides the perfect opportunity to understand and appreciate the important nuances of different working cultures and the chance to network and build relationships with clients and colleagues across the globe, which will prove invaluable as your career progresses. Given the ever-increasing and fast-paced global environment, the opportunity to gain international experience so early on in your career can only serve to enhance your development and puts you in a highly marketable position as clients now more than ever expect a strong understanding of the intricacies involved in cross-border work.

Viraen: I hope that the overseas seat will enrich me not just professionally, but also holistically as an individual. I relish the opportunity of forging meaningful bonds with my colleagues in Paris and experiencing a new work culture. I think that the overseas seat will give me valuable exposure and make me a more globally minded employee of the Firm.

Harriet: I hope that the overseas seat will help to further develop my interpersonal skills through working with a range of different people. I am looking forward to growing my network both within White & Case and externally. I think the fact that it is an entirely new experience will make me a more rounded lawyer when I qualify.

We will be catching up with Christopher, Harriet and Viraen again during their overseas seat to find out what life is like in one of our international offices.

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