Alastair is a newly qualified associate in Litigation and Dispute Resolution. He joined the firm in March 2014 after graduating from the University of Oxford with a degree in Law. During his time at Clifford Chance as a trainee, Alastair sat in Real Estate, Corporate in Moscow, Litigation and Dispute Resolution with a three month secondment to Liberty, and Finance and Capital Markets in Sao Paulo.
What has been your highlight so far at Clifford Chance?
This is a tough question, as my Clifford Chance experience has been overwhelmingly positive. Qualifying into our disputes team was great, but probably the highlight was the six months I spent in Brazil. The São Paulo office only has a handful of lawyers, so it’s a real contrast to working in the big London teams. The upshot is the trainees who go there are expected to perform. Although sometimes it was a challenge, I finished my six months there a much better lawyer than when I arrived. More generally, Brazil is probably the best place I have ever been. It’s impossibly beautiful; Brazilians are bewitching; and a beer on the beach is only a stone’s throw away.
What do you like most about working for Clifford Chance?
One of my favourite things about Clifford Chance is the international aspect to the work. I really like people and always wanted to have a career that would let me work with as diverse a population as possible. At Clifford Chance, you get to work with people from all over the world on a daily basis – each brings their own experiences and backgrounds. The work itself (particularly within the dispute resolution team into which I qualified) is also exceptionally varied. Since qualifying I have worked on everything from investor-state arbitration to a personal injury claim involving complex interpretation of EU contract regulations. It’s fun knowing you will have a few surprises when you get to work.
What advice would you give to an incoming trainee?
I would advise new trainees to arrive with enthusiasm and an open mind. Something I have noticed when talking to applicants is how readily they can form views of departments, sectors or even entire firms. Firms like Clifford Chance are necessarily diverse and something wonderful about training here is the unique experience you can have. Don’t discard an idea or ambition because someone once told you it was hard work or a waste of time. Be a sponge: learn as much as possible from the exceptional lawyers around you and make sure to ask lots of questions from the outset. Not only will you be a finer lawyer, you will make better informed decisions about your own career.