- Lucy-Erin Hunter
What it's like working as a Solicitor Apprentice abroad!
In 2016, only a handful of law firms and in-house legal teams offered the first solicitor apprenticeships. Now, magic circle law firms are embracing this way of training and firms are beginning to offer opportunities to complete part of the training in international offices.
This year I became the first solicitor apprentice to migrate to the Middle East and continue my role as a Solicitor Apprentice internationally.
I have been in Doha, Qatar for 2 months now and within this time I have adjusted my lifestyle to a new culture working and living in this new Middle East.
Not only are my working hours different (7:00am-15:00pm) my working days are now Sunday-Thursday (finishing on Thursday is all fun and games until it comes to going back into work on a Sunday – something I don’t think I’ll ever get used to!). Being a productive morning person, I am enjoying the earlier starts and the early finishes give you more time in the evening to explore and try new things. Being a sun lover the constant warm weather is a big plus too!
Not one day is the exact same but to give a flavour, my new routine looks a bit like this:
· 5:30am – Run
· 6:30am – Taxi to the office
· 7:00am – Start work, catch up on emails, plan for my day
· 7:30am-12:00pm – Complete tasks on my to do list for example: reviewing documents, liaising with the client, horizon scanning ahead of upcoming deadlines, attending team meetings
· 12:00pm – Lunch
· 13:00-13:30pm – Catch up with my manager
· 13:30-15:00pm – More document reviewing, research tasks and drafting correspondence
· 15:00pm – Taxi home
· 16:00pm – Gym
· 17:00pm – Dinner followed by University work
· 19:30-21:30pm – Arabic lessons
· 22:30pm – Zzzzz
I’ve found working in an international office environment particularly interesting and refreshing. There is a mix of Qatari's in traditional dress, expats from South Africa, Australia, and the UK. This mixture of multiple nations all from various backgrounds makes the workplace a cultural melting pot and having a diverse workforce mean there are a variety of different perspectives making it an interesting and engaging place to learn and work. In my spare time, I have decided to take Arabic classes and learn the Qatari dialect so I can communicate and network locally and immerse myself within the culture.
Furthermore, working directly with the client has helped me see things from a unique perspective and recognise law firms for what they are – businesses. I have learnt a lot through osmosis, and it is interesting seeing things from 'the other side of the fence'. Being on the ground with the client has encouraged me to put the client at the centre of my thinking: going through a legal matter from their point of view and thinking through how you can provide a good client experience in a way that is efficient for the firm. It has given me an invaluable insight into skills clients admire and want from their lawyers.
So far working as a junior lawyer working in the Middle East has been very rewarding, I have been given high levels of responsibility. Working in a smaller team will afford you more contact with clients and partners and given the emerging market nature of working in the Middle East, I have also had greater levels of commercial involvement on matters, where I have witnessed our extensive specialist UK team advise strategically as well as from a technical legal perspective.
Lucy-Erin, IG: @alawapprentice