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Working in Madrid – Pinsent Masons STRIDE programme

Rachel spent 5 months at Pinsent Masons Madrid office working with our top international clients. We asked her what it’s like to be a banking lawyer and how she found her STRIDE secondment in Spain.

Do you have any tips for choosing the area of law to qualify in? 

I think it is key to find an area of law that you enjoy – the hours can be long and the deals challenging at times so you need to like what you do.

It was four years ago for me now but I really enjoyed my training contract. My route to qualification was quite normal really, I did seats in Property, CAD and Banking (and I loved it!). The Partner then offered me the chance to go on a secondment to Ulster Bank in Belfast and that sealed the deal – I was going to be a banking lawyer. A lot of interview prep and an interview later, I was offered the chance to join the Banking team in Edinburgh.

I might point out, at the start of my training contract I had never imagined that banking law was where I would end up, but it is a hugely interesting and integral part of our market and economy, and I loved it.

If you could send a message to your student-self, what would your advice be?

Be honest with yourself – if you having a burning desire to practice criminal law then a large commercial law firm probably won’t be for you! And do your research – understand what the firm does and what it stands for, and allow that to inform whether you think you are a good match for that business based upon your strengths and your interests.

Can you tell us more about the work you currently do in Banking?

I am a commercial banking lawyer which means I get involved in a wide variety of work on a day-to-day basis in the UK and also internationally. Most of my work involves acting for Lenders in areas like commercial real estate finance, corporate finance, trade finance and larger change projects. I also have the chance to work with some of our legal technology offering, such as TermFrame (AI platform used to extract, review and analyse key contract risks, and provide actionable risk reports).

What is STRIDE and what made you apply for the programme?

STRIDE is a secondment program aimed at the junior lawyers in the firm providing them with the opportunity to spend time working in our international offices. I had previously been working with our colleagues in Madrid and when the opportunity came up for a banking lawyer to spend some time there, I jumped at the chance to develop that relationship further.

Can you tell us more about the differences and similarities between the two offices?

My home office is Edinburgh (I am back now!) but I spent 5 months in Madrid. Similarities – the people for sure. Everyone was really friendly and supportive, just as I had come to know them in the UK. Differences – the Madrid office is one of our newer offices, so it was great to see what a new office environment was like and learn about their goals and strategies as they established themselves in their market. The food and weather were pretty different to Scotland!

Were you required to have previous experience working with clients in Spain or speak Spanish?

No. Having worked with the Madrid team previously definitely helped me settle into the team. I tried to learn a bit of Spanish along the way, but previous experience with their clients and fluent language skills weren’t required for my secondment.

What was your experience of working internationally before participating in STRIDE programme?

I have been lucky enough to work on transactions involving lots of different jurisdictions, from the US to all over Europe. As I mentioned earlier, I also seconded to Belfast as a trainee, and did some work between Belfast and Dublin during my 6 months there. We work a lot with our colleagues across the UK, on an almost daily basis, so you are never just working with the colleagues sat around you.

Describe your STRIDE team in 3 words

Great Spanish Hospitality!

 

What three things have you learnt in your time abroad that you will take back and use in your everyday working life?

 

(1) A bit of Spanish (I’m trying!), (2) How to really recognise and appreciate different working cultures in an international law firm, (3) How to develop strong working relationships with my colleagues in other countries.

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