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Exploring new cities, Firm support and a great learning curve

May 2024: London trainees Ciara Lamph, Reni Osibamowo and Alexander Ward have recently started their six month overseas seats in Houston, Stockholm and Tokyo respectively. We caught up with them at the start of their experience to find out what's in store.

What's most exciting about the prospect of six months overseas?

Ciara Lamph: The chance to live in a new place and immerse myself in a new culture for an extended period of time is an amazing opportunity.

Reni Osibamowo: I was excited about the chance to meet new colleagues and see how English law is practised from another country.

Alexander Ward: As part of my undergraduate degree, I completed a year abroad. I found living and working abroad very rewarding.

Professionally, what are you looking forward to?

AW: I'm looking forward to building my network.

RO: The chance to work on different deals with new clients and colleagues, and developing my skills.

CL: The opportunity to learn more about oil and gas, a key industry for our Firm, I've already had exposure to key market players and learnt more about how the industry is developing in response to international demand.

What were your very first impressions of your new city?

RO: Stockholm is a beautiful city that is built on 14 islands—this means it has great scenery and outdoor spaces. There are also a lot of good restaurants and shops.

CL: Everyone I've met so far in Houston has been so friendly and approachable. The city is really vibrant and there is something to do every day of the week here – I've already been to the rodeo!

Stockholm Houston TokyoShopping in the streets of Stockholm | Experiencing a classic Texas rodeo | Eating authentic sushi in Japan

AW: Tokyo is such a vibrant city and unlike anywhere I have been before. It's the world's largest metropolitan area, and there is so much to experience. Japan has so much to offer too—you are spoiled for choice, whether it's buzzing cities, tranquil countryside skiing or the beach—all of which are so easy to access on the bullet train!

Did the Firm help you get set up with accommodation and local advice?

CL: The application for a working visa in the U.S. is quite involved but I had the help of an immigration lawyer the Firm hired to make everything go very smoothly.

Ciara at the Houston office's famous chili cook-off | Remi at Stockholm's professional hockey team gameCiara at the Houston office's famous chili cook-off | Remi at Stockholm's professional hockey team game

RO: The Firm handled the visa, travel and accommodation process. This makes such a big difference when you are about to embark on an exciting but also daunting experience. I have also been provided with a cost-of-living adjustment.

AW: The process was incredibly straightforward. The Global Mobility team in London and HR team in Tokyo organised everything—all I had to do was choose a convenient flight time. Both the Firm and former trainees who completed their overseas seat in Tokyo were great sources of local advice. The Firm also provides all trainees with language lessons, which were invaluable, as English isn't particularly widely spoken in Japan.

Tokyo soccerAlex and the Tokyo team at the office's annual White & Case Community Cup

What do you think will be the same about working at White & Case in a new city, and what might be different?

AW: I'll still work on multijurisdictional matters. However, the difference is that I'm now working with colleagues from offices that I haven't previously worked with, such as Seoul, Singapore and Melbourne.

CL: I have found the same culture of friendly, approachable and hardworking colleagues. The Houston office is smaller than London so I have met people who aren't in my department, something which isn't always possible when working in a larger office.

RO: There will definitely be different nuances from working with different clients and colleagues, and this will be helpful for continuing to learn how to interact and deal with clients and lawyers from all over the world.

How do you think this experience will help you develop as a lawyer?

CL: To date I have been exposed to work in EMEA, but this opportunity has allowed me to compare how the U.S. market differs, both from a drafting and negotiation perspective.
AW: In a smaller office and team, trainees often play the role of a junior associate on deals and are given more responsibility. I think the added responsibility will help prepare me for life as a qualified solicitor.

RO: I think the opportunity to gain international experience at such an early stage in your career is incredibly useful. I have been given a lot of responsibility on deals and have been trusted with certain workstreams, which is definitely accelerating my learning and development.

What intercultural or 'soft skills' do you think this secondment/seat will help you build?

RO: I believe that I will be able to build on my interpersonal skills and be able to understand cultural nuances even more. The overseas seat is also building my confidence professionally, and I certainly feel more comfortable in taking the initiative and contributing as much as I can to a deal.

AW: This secondment will help me develop a deeper understanding of different cultures, which will be invaluable, as we work with clients from all over the world. It also takes time to acclimatise to a new city and country, particularly when English isn't widely spoken. This can pose challenges, which will help me develop my resilience.

CL: I hope this secondment opportunity will help me grow my network, opening doors to meet new people, both within and outside of the firm. In addition, I hope the opportunity to live and work overseas will allow for personal development as I'm pushed out of my comfort zone to concentrate on my resilience, become more adaptable and navigate unfamiliar situations.