I thoroughly enjoyed my time during the summer internship and it confirmed that DLA Piper was the firm I wanted to train at and forge my legal career with. I feel fortunate to have met hugely impressive and inspiring people, and I would start my training contract yesterday if I could. I want to share my experience by talking about the culture of the firm, the induction and my two weeks in the Edinburgh office.
Week One - Induction
The internship spanned across three weeks: a one week induction in London, followed by two weeks in the office where we applied to. The induction in London was comprised of talks from very senior members of the firm, including the Global Co-CEO and Managing Partner, Simon Levine. The talks were extremely informative, for example, we learned of the organisational structure of the firm - how it is unique and how it enables DLA Piper to deliver its services better. Nicolas Patrick, Head of Responsible Business, spoke to us about the pro bono work DLA Piper does and brought along a representative of one of the firm’s charity partners to discuss fundamental human rights cases they were working on. We were humbled to learn of the diversity and inclusion agenda, including the widespread commitment to addressing mental health in the workplace. I learned something new every day of the induction and was made to feel valued and involved by the graduate recruitment team, my peers and the presenters.
Week Two - Real Estate
I sat in Real Estate for my first seat and I was suitably terrified as I approached my desk. Despite it being my second week with the firm, it suddenly felt very real and very scary – this was a two week interview! I soon relaxed when one of the trainees took me round and introduced me to everyone. Everyone was friendly and chatty. It reminded me that I had just walked into a room full of human beings and I found myself being reminded of this constantly during my time with the firm. The Head of Real Estate took myself and Jessica, the other intern in Real Estate for the week, on a tour of a site the team was involved in. He helped us see how the department works in practice, taking abstract legal knowledge and applying it to real business. The entire team welcomed us openly, speaking to us about their families and careers, and even arranging a meeting about road law when Jessica had expressed an interest in learning about it.
During the week I also had the opportunity to complete work for a partner in Planning, highlighting the cross-functional nature of the practice groups. I was nervous about working on something I didn’t have strong knowledge (or even any knowledge) on but it turned out that it wasn’t about being an expert, it was about engaging with the work, being curious and asking questions.
Week Three - Corporate
One of the greatest aspects of completing an internship is the opportunity to try your hand at an area of law you are interested in and confirm whether it is what you thought it would be. I was delighted to be provided with the opportunity to spend a week in Corporate as I hadn’t had much exposure to it before this point. The team were supportive, notwithstanding their workload, and were genuinely interested in talking me through complex topics that were unfamiliar to me, such as private equity.
One of my tasks for the week was to work through a “Corporate Quiz”, encouraging me to conduct my own research and to ask members of the team about their work. At the end of the week my supervisor went through the answers with me and explained anything that was more technical. I felt like I was taking home really valuable knowledge; knowledge that would inform my future research.
Part of the internship involved delivering a pitch for tender in front of partners and a member of graduate recruitment in the Edinburgh office. This was quite a challenging piece of work which tested our organisational, team working and prioritisation skills. It was our responsibility to etch out time to balance the workload given to us by our line managers with the preparation required for the pitch. My group spent some evenings working on the presentation as we wanted to make the most of the opportunity to work together and support each other. The pitch itself was a great experience, made more enjoyable by the fact that the members of the panel were warm and encouraging.
The most striking part about the firm, for me, is the co-existence of diversity and similarity. The internship exposed me to individuals carrying out many different roles, with very different personalities and from very different backgrounds. Despite this, I don’t think the firm could be any more cohesive.
At every juncture of the experience myself and my fellow interns were treated with respect. Our names were learned, it seemed instantly, and we were communicated to frankly and often. Extremely senior members of the firm seemed to share a self-deprecating sense of humour, levelling with us in their talks about their mistakes and regrets, but also inspiring us to think we could be standing in their shoes one day. They were open, personable and passionate about lawyers of the future.
Despite there being so many of us, I felt like I could approach any one of my fellow interns. After just three days, we all interacted like friends and at no point did it feel like we were competitors. DLA Piper boasts an environment where you are supported to be your best self, not intimidated or pressurised into being the best self.