An English lawyer in New York | Law on The Gateway

An English lawyer in New York

Freshfields trainee Ryan Taylor explains why a secondment abroad is a great opportunity

Many City law firms offer trainees the opportunity to spend a few months abroad as part of your training contract. Here Freshfields trainee Ryan Taylor reveals what working and living in New York for half a year was like and how the experience has helped him in his legal career.

"Working as a trainee for Freshfields in New York is a great career opportunity - not to mention one of the best lifestyles offered on a secondment! I'm nearly halfway through my six months here and it's gone extremely quickly.

Being here is great exposure to an international working environment. There may be no language barrier but, culturally, the US is a very different place to work and live."

Independent learning

"My seats in London set me up well for my secondment in New York, where I sat in Corporate, Finance and Dispute Resolution. The secondment in New York marks the final seat of my training contract and I'm spending it doing corporate work.

I've been assisting with M&A deals for companies based in the US but I'm also working for international clients in the technology and manufacturing industries.

There are also lots of Latin American matters based out of our New York office, so there's a very wide variety of work.

One of the highlights of being here on secondment is being at the forefront of corporate work in the city. Although it's been challenging, it gives you a great insight into how the New York financial and business world operates.

Another highlight is the greater level of responsibility you get. I have to manage my own work streams, organise client meetings and engage directly with clients, which, as a trainee in London, is a bit more difficult.

The reason why you tend to get more responsibility in New York is because the office is much smaller than the London one (there are only twenty people in the team here), and because the US firms have no concept of a trainee so you're often viewed as an associate.

It's something that I really enjoy and it's one of the reasons why I wanted to come to New York."

A room with a view

"I think living in New York is very different to seeing it as a tourist. It's a city that has so much to offer and the nature of the secondment really encourages you to be more independent and confident.

There are far fewer international trainees here compared to Hong Kong or Dubai so you have to work at building a social life, but you're put in touch with all the trainees here from other City firms.

While it's a challenge moving and adapting to a new city, my attitude has been to make the most of everything available, take lots of trips on weekends and take time out to see the sights.

For me, one of the best things about New York is Central Park in the summer. I live in an apartment in Columbus Circle, which is 50 metres from Central Park.

Even better, Freshfields covers the cost of the apartment and your expenses while you're out here, so you really can get a feel of what it's like living the high life in New York - something most trainees wouldn't be able to do in London for a few years yet! Being able to wake up to a view of Central Park is fantastic and every morning I head down there for a run - it's a great escape."

Advice for future secondees

"The six months you spend on secondment is probably going to be the ideal chance to take on more responsibility and learn a lot more about clients and their businesses.

I think New York really allows you to get the most out of your time away as it's one of the seats that offers the most responsibility - and it really is a fantastic city to live in."

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