Matthew Bambury is a Banking and Finance Associate who has recently returned from six months in Dubai.
My parents both work in the public sector and my father’s job, in particular, has a lot of overlap with the legal sector. I suppose being around the sort of work that he was carrying out influenced my decision to go into the legal field. I chose to study law at The University of Nottingham, where it was my original intention to focus on criminal law modules with the ambition of becoming a barrister. About a third of the way into my degree, however, I became much more aware of the commercial law sphere and of Norton Rose Fulbright. I had heard about the firm’s university manager program and decided to apply. The process involved a written application and an assessment day, including partner interview, which thankfully went well and I was offered the position. That then gave me a head start in getting to know the firm and the people, which undoubtedly helped me secure a summer vacation scheme at the firm and the training contract offer which followed.
Choosing Norton Rose Fulbright
I was fortunate to be able to choose between a few training contract offers. The deciding factor in choosing Norton Rose Fulbright was definitely the fantastic experience that I had on the summer vacation scheme. . There was also an air of excitement surrounding the firm at the time, with a period of expansion and innovation just beginning. In addition, the trainees at the time were really helpful and everyone I met was personable and generally very friendly. I knew I could see myself working there.
I always advise students that are choosing between firms that in addition to the obvious factors, such as focusing on firms that marry up with your own interests, they would be well advised to base part of their judgement on the trainees and associates that they meet at various events. It is the current trainees and associates that are the future of the firm and have already been recruited by that particular firm, so you can picture yourself working alongside them, then that’s a positive indication that the firm is the right fit.
International secondment opportunity
Every trainee at the firm is given the opportunity to go abroad. It was my fourth (and final) seat and I had not yet been abroad. I decided to submit my international options - Dubai being the first choice, followed by Sydney and then Singapore. My profile was then passed on to the Dubai office and as I was yet to experience a corporate seat, it was decided that I should sit with the corporate team in Dubai.
I was working within a small team of four, which gave me the opportunity to get involved in all aspects of a deal as well as exposure to a higher level of responsibility (ideal before starting life as an NQ).
During the six months in Dubai, I worked on M&A and joint venture deals across the energy, transport, pharmaceuticals, food and cosmetics sectors (to name a few). The team also advised on matters relating to IT, intellectual property, FinTech, data protection, employment, pensions, tax and insurance schemes.
In addition to the legal aspects of my secondment, the scope for business development across the Middle East is vast. Whilst balancing the billable work, I was also tasked with writing articles for local magazines such as Emirates Law as well as delivering presentations. I presented alongside the corporate team to 12 general counsels of a major international client, which was pretty nerve-wracking, but great practice. We also organised various external client events, including a diversity gala and a guided tour around the newly-opened Louvre in Abu Dhabi.
The secondment experience is certainly not all work; there is a sociable aspect to it too. Each intake of trainees sets up a WhatsApp group and on any given weekend someone will be organizing something for the group. Personal highlights include: working my way through Dubai’s famous brunches, sleeping under the stars in the Jordanian desert, snorkeling in Zanzibar and dune-bashing across the outskirts of Dubai. I also have to mention the Dubai office Christmas party, which was held on the rooftop of a skyscraper in 25 degree heat - certainly differs from the cold Christmas in London.
There are many intangible benefits to any form of secondment (client or abroad), including greater responsibility and quicker progression, along with the opportunity to grow your internal and external professional network. Outside of work, being abroad with over 60 trainees from different firms is a lot of fun and a great chance to make some brilliant friends and memories. I could not recommend it enough.