Working as a lawyer at a professional services firm: PwC Legal

Trainee Pooja Dabir on what makes her firm special and the career opportunities it's given her

Chances are you're familiar with PwC, one of the largest professional services firms in the world, but how much do you know about PwC Legal?

As an influential and respected law firm in its own right, PwC Legal has an unparalleled global reach with access to 1,300 commercial lawyers in the PwC network in 70 countries and a vast client base of FTSE 200 companies, several leading banks, and high net worth individuals.

Although PwC Legal is separate to PwC, there's significant crossover of work, clients and projects - the two entities work together to offer sound legal advice that makes good business sense.

This arrangement is one of the reasons that many clients seek advice from PwC Legal: they're confident the law firm can offer particularly well-rounded solutions to their issues, as part of a genuine "one stop shop".

The bigger picture

PwC Legal's membership of the PwC network gives it access to expertise that many other law firms would struggle to find within their organisations.

Pooja Dabir, a trainee at PwC Legal explains: "PwC Legal benefits from being part of the PwC network. We have access to PwC resources and when PwC has a project, we're often the first port of call and vice versa."

Depending on the case, lawyers will work side by side with experts in areas such as tax, corporate finance and human capital to provide clients with well-rounded advice backed up by sound legal expertise.

Pooja is currently sitting in corporate, where she's involved in the legal side of corporate transactions and restructuring. Here she often works closely with PwC's tax team.

"In my experience, a lot of restructuring has been tax-driven," Pooja explains. "The PwC tax team devises the structure, then work with us to ensure it's feasible, and PwC Legal then implements it."

"At PwC Legal you work with many different parts of PwC so you learn a lot more than you would in any other law firm network."

The firm is well known for its work in tax litigation, commercial real estate and banking, to name a few.

One of the star departments is immigration. PwC Legal has access to immigration law specialists in 116 countries and the London team is heavily involved in policymaking.

"The immigration team does a lot of groundbreaking work," says Pooja, adding, "there's lots of opportunity here to work on influential projects and really be involved in major contracts."

The legal teams at the firm don't just work with corporate clients either - Pooja reveals that PwC Legal has recently advised a very prominent artist.

There are also opportunities for trainees to go on secondment to PwC. If there's an appropriate opening within a PwC team, such as in financial services or forensic accounting, trainees can discuss this opportunity with their training principal and arrange to do a seat there.

Pooja adds that training with and working at PwC Legal, "you get a much more comprehensive approach to working in the business world."

"We do a lot of purely legal work, but it doesn't exist in a vacuum. You have a lot of other aspects like tax or finance to consider too and you learn to be mindful of these other factors."

Work where you want

As a newly qualified lawyer, you'll find that there are some great opportunities to travel and even live abroad.

Through the PwC network Global Mobility Programme, lawyers can search and apply for jobs in Australia or Hong Kong, for example, and once there, they can stay on secondment for up to two years.

"You can go anywhere PwC have a legal services presence and a vacancy," says Pooja. She adds, "when I qualify, I might go out to New Zealand!" Growing up in Dubai and attending university in Canada and BPP Law School in the UK, she's certainly used to changes in scenery.

It was the Global Mobility Programme that facilitated Pooja's move from Dubai, where she was paralegalling with PwC Legal, to London to begin her training contract.

"It was the first time that someone working in PwC Legal's Dubai office has got a training contract internally," she says, "and trainees in London have the opportunity to go to Dubai for a seat as well."

The culture

Training and working at such a huge firm can often be daunting at first and PwC Legal likes to give its trainees a lot of responsibility early on.

But that was just what Pooja was looking for, and she says that the responsibility she's been given has built her confidence.

"They make you feel like you can do anything at this firm," she says. "There's a world of opportunity. You can move countries, you can work part time for ten years if you want. They also understand the need to balance your work and family life, which is very important."

That's not to say that life at the firm isn't occasionally challenging for Pooja. "I do work late at times, but sometimes I find that I work late because I want to - rather than because I have to," she says.

For Pooja, this comes about through respect for the firm and her colleagues, which in turn comes from a shared positive attitude. "I've done stints at different law firms but, at PwC Legal, I find the people are very hard-working, committed and down-to-earth - which is not necessarily the case in other firms."

For her, this attitude shared across the PwC Legal team is one of the defining features of the firm's culture, along with a sense that each individual is significant: "It's easy to get lost in really big firms," she says, "but here I feel valued. I feel like the firm cares about me and that makes me care about the firm and the work I'm doing."

Why work as a lawyer in a global professional services network?

Commercial awareness

You'll get an excellent, broad insight into the nuts and bolts of how businesses work.

Shared expertise

You'll get to work with people from different professional disciplines.

Travel

You can work with PwC almost anywhere in the world.

Responsibility

Trainees are encouraged to take a hands-on approach to client work from an early stage.

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