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Calum, a trainee from the Edinburgh Office, discusses the benefits of undertaking a client secondment

One of the things that appealed to me most about DLA Piper was the number and variety of secondments on offer, internationally as well as domestically. I was fortunate to be selected to spend six months as a member of the in-house dispute resolution team of a large UK bank in Glasgow. Having just finished a seat in DLA's Litigation and Regulatory team in Edinburgh, which I really enjoyed, I was excited to be able to spend another six months in a contentious role. The secondment was invaluable in offering me a different perspective on the role of a lawyer and improving my commercial awareness.

The Bank's Dispute Resolution Team deals with a wide range of matters, and handles claims in which the Bank is acting as both Pursuer and Defender in English and Scottish matters. It was interesting to observe, and receive training on, the trends in the types of actions that were being raised against the Bank, which mirrored similar trends that other financial institutions were experiencing.

The most striking aspect of the secondment for me was the difference between the role of a private practice lawyer and that of an in-house lawyer. Rather than having multiple distinct clients, the Dispute Resolution Team acted to protect the Bank's interests, although the content and nature of the advice given did vary significantly depending on which team in the Bank we were advising. The role of an in-house lawyer requires oversight of a large number of cases and often making the ultimate decision on each legal aspect. Being on secondment with the client gave me an insight into the legal and commercial considerations that go into such decisions, and I was regularly liaising with external panel firms to communicate the Bank's instructions. 

Being on a client secondment was also extremely useful for improving my commercial awareness. I attended numerous workshops within the Bank where the wider legal team discussed topics such as the Bank's product offering and the organisation's overall corporate purpose. In my day-to-day work it was clear that the role of the legal team was to advise the Bank's various departments as they furthered the Bank's commercial objectives. All these aspects of the secondment gave me a much better understanding of how the Bank operated as a business and its commercial goals.

Overall I would highly recommend undertaking a client secondment due to the new perspective on the role of a lawyer that it provides to trainee solicitors. The experience will definitely be helpful as I progress in my career.

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