January 2022: Tadeáš Matys is an associate in the Debt Finance Practice in the Czech Republic. He sums up his experiences in this busy practice and has advice for anyone considering applying to join the Prague office as an intern or an associate.
1. It's good to know what you want to do
I started at White & Case as an intern in my fourth year of law school and, by then, I already knew that I wanted to work in Banking and Finance (as I had some experience from my previous employment). When I made that known, I got assignments from that team straight away.
2. … but it's really important to keep an open mind
However, no one expects that you already know what you want to do as soon as you join. As an intern, you might think that you're interested in transactional work, but then you try out litigation and find that you really enjoy it. At White & Case, you get to work with all the different teams. Take up all opportunities, and don't be afraid to change your mind.
3. You'll work with multiple teams
Some of the transactions that we do span multiple teams, jurisdictions and offices. Occasionally every associate in the office, across all the practices, are staffed on the same deal. This helps you develop a real understanding of how interconnected our work is.
4. The quality of the work here is essential
Working at White & Case means working on the most important deals, for major clients and with some of the best lawyers in the world. That's incredible experience to get at the start of your career. I especially enjoy having more client contact as I gain more experience.
5. Two key skills are particularly important in this field
You need to be really detail-focused, really looking at every aspect of the work to identify potential issues. On the other hand, you also need to think "big picture" and understand how any changes you make in one document might impact other documents and the structure of the transaction. Balancing the two is definitely something worth working on.
6. Time management is critical
Sometimes the volume of tasks, emails and deadlines can be overwhelming. One of the most useful things that you can do is to learn how to manage your time and also the time of the others. In our team, we work on multiple transactions at once. You learn to prioritize and plan your time well.
7. Making mistakes is expected
The only way, as an intern or an associate, that you will learn, is to have a go. You'll never get a task right the first time. As long as you don't keep making the same mistake, it's an important part of the learning process.
8. We welcome candidates who can demonstrate real interest in the law
One way to stand out in an interview is to show how you have gone the extra mile to demonstrate your interest in the law. In my case, I took part in moot court competitions as a student. This kind of experience sets you up well for the work of a lawyer: legal research and presentation skills.
9. No one expects you to know it all
There's a misconception that interns starting here are expected to know it all from day one because they learnt it all at law school. That's not true. You're here to learn and grow, and the team members are here to support you. One of the best ways to do this is to work on a transaction from end-to-end. That's a real learning curve.
10. Know that your ideas are valued
If there's something that you don't understand, or want to know, I really encourage you to ask. You might have spotted an issue that everyone else has missed. Everyone here is willing to answer questions, always.
Find out more about our Student Internship Program here.