Life in a law firm: ‘Prepping to go to Russia #fridaynightmare #byebyeweekend’

RPC trainee Sarah Pearson on what it’s like to drop everything and head to St Petersburg for work

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Followers of the @LifeinaLawFirm Twitter account — which is operated by RPC’s 40 trainees, without any editorial oversight — were earlier this month informed by second seat trainee Sarah Pearson that she was off to Russia for work at short notice.

Jetting to St Petersburg in business class at the last minute sounds glamorous, but the reality of getting all the necessary client documents together in time was rather more mundane. That’s Pearson sitting on the floor.

The Legal Cheek Careers team caught up with Pearson upon her return to find out how the trip had gone.

Legal Cheek Careers: How much notice did you get that you were off to Russia?

Sarah Pearson: I found out on Wednesday evening, then I had to rush and get a visa the next day, which was confirmed on Friday. A team of us — an associate, a senior associate, a partner and two barristers — then flew out to St Petersburg on Monday morning. The tweets above, I should add, were written by one of my fellow trainees after I had realised that the excitement of going to Russia was going to be offset by having to come in for a few hours on Saturday and Sunday to prepare for the trip.

Legal Cheek Careers: What work were you doing in Russia?

Pearson: Since I started my litigation seat in March I have been the junior member of a team working on a case for a Russian financial institution client. It has involved me going to Russia twice — once in April and this most recent trip earlier this month — to assist with the interviewing of potential witnesses for a trial that will take place early next year in London.

For me it meant preparing the relevant documents in relation to the witnesses — hence the weekend I had to work in advance of the trip — and then sitting in on the discussions with the witnesses.

Legal Cheek Careers: Did you get much time to see St Petersburg?

Pearson: Much less than if I had been on holiday. But I got out for a run in the mornings before we began work so I managed to see a bit. And in the evenings I got to see some of the city during our journeys between the hotel and the Russian firm’s offices.

Legal Cheek Careers: What was the highlight of the trip?

Pearson: Eating together in the evening with the other lawyers. It was good to be able to chat to people a lot more senior than me in a relaxed environment. I really enjoyed that. Flying business class was also nice, although I was working for most of the flight.

Legal Cheek Careers: What was the low point?

Pearson: There was no low point, but it is worth emphasising how business trips are not as glamorous as you might initially think. It was very hard work fitting everything in that we had to do. Some of the interviews were five hours long, and you have to be on the ball throughout. I was conscious that I didn’t want to mess anything up, and knew that I needed to have all the right documents to hand.

Legal Cheek Careers: Have you had any other foreign trips so far during your TC?

Pearson: Before this the most exotic place I had been to was Manchester, where on my first seat in real estate I went to issue proceedings for a judicial review of a planning decision.

Legal Cheek Careers: @LifeInALawFirm can be remarkably off-message for a corporate law firm Twitter account. What’s the deal with it?

Pearson: All trainees are given the username and password. So there are contributions from trainees in London, Bristol and Hong Kong. We’re told to use our common sense about what we tweet, with the only restriction being client confidentiality, which the firm is very strict on.

So, for example, in that photo of me surrounded by documents we were careful to ensure that it was not possible to read any client names on the papers.

Legal Cheek Careers: Do you speak Russian, by the way?

Pearson: Everything was done through an interpreter. But now I can say ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘thank you’!


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