French exchange: a seat in Paris

We spoke to Hogan Lovells trainee Sarah Parkin during the first few weeks of her seat in the French capital

Why does Hogan Lovells have an office in Paris?

France is an important economic hub - it's at the centre of the European Union and is one of the world's largest economies. Its markets are heavily regulated, so there's a great need for the services of business lawyers provided by firms like Hogan Lovells.

How does the Paris office compare to the London office?

It's a lot smaller and there are fewer lawyers. Most of them are from France, though in the corporate group my supervisor is English and there's one English and one American partner. Communication in the office is generally in French (I'm fluent as I studied the language as part of my degree), but some of the documents we review are in English.

So far I've found the office to be friendly and welcoming, just like in London. If I have a question about French law, the French lawyers are very willing to answer it and to explain the different legal processes over here.

People take much longer lunch breaks than they do in the City, often around an hour to an hour and a half. There's no culture of grabbing something quickly and eating it at your desk - instead people often go out to one of the restaurants near the office.

What kind of work are you doing?

I've been working with the corporate group, which spans corporate finance, commercial work and also regulatory matters. I've helped to redraft a commercial contract, reviewing the provisions and incorporating some of the standard clauses that are needed in most contracts. I've also been involved in reviewing a loan agreement and producing a summary of its main terms to be sent out to the client.

What are you hoping to learn about being a lawyer in Paris that you wouldn't be able to learn in London?

I'd like to broaden my knowledge of the firm, including getting to know people in the Paris office. I hope I'll be able to keep in touch with them when I'm back in London, which will be useful later on in my career.

Much of the work done in Paris is in connection with international deals and is done under English law, but I also want to get some experience of French law work. The extent to which I can be involved in it is limited because I'm not French-law qualified, but I'm hoping to improve my knowledge of French legal terminology.

Are you finding anything about being abroad difficult?

One of the hardest things so far has been opening a bank account - there's a lot of bureaucracy involved!

But the firm has helped to make the transition as smooth as possible - for example, they've provided accommodation, so there's been no hassle in that respect.

What's the best thing about being in Paris?

The food! Also the opportunity to sightsee and to explore different parts of the city. So far, I've been to the Musée d'Orsay, and I went to Sacré Coeur recently on a lovely sunny day.