The year of 2020 has been hallmarked by turbulent change and ambiguity. However, something that remained consistent was the quality and opportunity of the DLA Piper Summer Internship.
I first experienced DLA Piper during the Insight Programme as a first year Law Student. Whilst having initially approached this with a degree of apprehension, I was soon struck by the authentic and friendly culture, and left the Insight Programme fuelled with knowledge.
After a stimulating and collaborative assessment centre process in January, I was thrilled with my success and felt eager to begin. The firm enthusiastically welcomed the intern cohort, assigning a Trainee ‘Buddy’ who was on hand to answer questions and with whom I built a friendly connection. A particular highlight was receiving an iridescent internship package by post, alongside some Just Eat vouchers!
It is evident DLA Piper was unfazed by the transition to a virtual working environment, as the internship was superbly structured, and all employees were promptly delivered IT materials when the country went into lockdown. This is reflected in the adaptive and progressive atmosphere and captured by four values which embody the firm: collaborative, supportive, bold and exceptional. The Graduate Recruitment team helped all interns to feel comfortable in the virtual setting; that is not to say though that the inevitable, albeit rare IT hiccup (slurring audio and unplanned, amusing backgrounds) did not occur, though this only served to make the experience personable, inviting and real.
I knew I wanted exposure to the sorts of tasks I could be completing as a Trainee. Fortunately, this was easily accommodated as the programme comprised a varied array of opportunities. These encompassed Diversity and Inclusion talks, Pro Bono and Responsible Business insights, and discussions with the CEO, UK Head of Corporate , the UK and the Ireland Manging Partners, the Managing Director of Europe and many other impressive people. I felt especially welcomed in the Leeds, office-specific session. Here we appreciated collective wisdom from a carousel of commercial lawyers, who offered detailed explanations and relevant examples of their work in all eight of the legal practice areas, including tax, restructuring and litigation.
Despite the necessary absence of face-to-face contact, there were interactive elements with multiple occasions to participate. A focus for the week was working with fellow Leeds interns to research, prepare and then pitch a project to several Partners, who subsequently questioned us on the content of our pitch.. Whilst seemingly an intimidating experience, the culmination of my team’s work and the chance to demonstrate my intellect, was extremely fulfilling.
A crucial aspect of DLA Piper’s culture, immensity and presence is that ambitious Graduates are able to excel, working on tangible projects to suit each person. These range from time-critical, emergency contracts in the context of Covid-19, to longer-term, meticulously planned construction, infrastructure and windfarm projects. This was echoed during the Trainee Question & Answer session and is evidenced by the client and international secondment programme. I think DLA Piper’s ‘One-UK’ approach, further enriches the workplace, as work across the firm is seamlessly integrated and combines both local and national knowledge. I was able to witness this first-hand, by arranging calls with several lawyers in the Leeds office, whose ingenuity and charisma contributed to my decision to accept the firm’s offer of a Training Contract.
It is apparent that lawyers at DLA Piper are diverse, competent and unique. You do not need to conform to a certain mould to join the firm and you are able to flourish as an individual. I would advise future applicants or interns to be enthusiastic, to have confidence in your abilities and to discover as much as you can about DLA Piper prior to the programme, but also recognise that you are not the ‘finished article’ and have a lot to learn.
Best of luck with your career and personal goals.