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What it’s like to work at a global law firm

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Clyde & Co partners from across the firms’ international offices discuss the strategic benefits which come with being a wholly global law firm

At Legal Cheek’s latest virtual event, ‘How law firms go global’, partners from across the London, Manchester and Dusseldorf offices at Clyde & Co came together to discuss the firms’ international strategy, and what it means to be part of a global network.

The speakers

Dr Henning Schaloske, partner and head of Clyde & Co’s German office in Dusseldorf and the firm‘s German insurance practice
Milena Szuniewicz-Wenzel, partner, based in London, in Clyde & Co’s International Arbitration Group
Vanessa Splaine, solicitor and specialist in healthcare law, and equity partner at Clyde & Co’s Manchester office

A seamless global service

Clyde & Co is a law firm which is truly global. The firm’s international expansion strategy has been a huge success story, with its global network today comprising of 2,500 legal experts working across over 50 offices worldwide. Clyde & Co’s financial books have also seen similar successes, with the firm’s international expansion running alongside 22 consecutive years of consistent revenue growth.

Milena Szuniewicz-Wenzel, partner in Clyde & Co’s International Arbitration Group, explained to the virtual audience of over 400 students how the firms’ international expansion has impacted her practice area. Szuniewicz-Wenzel, who has been handling international arbitration claims for nearly 18 years, explained the difference which this global network of lawyers makes to her daily work. “The most significant benefit is the collaboration — as a lawyer, it is far easier to call colleagues at an international office to advise you on cross-jurisdictional issues than to get in contact with another law firm,” she said. This is particularly beneficial in the international arbitration arena, where there are clear cross-cultural differences in pleading styles, the type of arbitrator used, and the rules around confidentially, she added.

Head of Clyde & Co’s Dusseldorf office, Dr. Henning Schaloske, also spoke about the benefits of Clyde & Co’s global network. He explained how alternative models (such as ‘best friend’ approaches) ultimately make it difficult to build a single coherent network able to understand all of the clients’ specific needs. Having previously worked at an independent law firm in Germany and later joining Clyde & Co’s global network, Schaloske spoke to the business efficiencies which come with the firms’ international model. He said:

“I am now able to simply pick up the phone and call anyone in the firms’ international offices, confident that the response on the other end of the line will be ‘sure — I am happy to support this’. Clyde & Co has a clear strategic focus which it delivers through a seamless global service — this is a model which really sets us apart.”

Growth areas

Global insurance and reinsurance are industries which are booming at the moment given the surge of coronavirus-related claims. When asked about what it has been like to head the insurance practice at the Dusseldorf office over the past eight months, Schaloske said: “Since March I have gone through the busiest time of my career — we have been flooded with instructions from both our insurance and reinsurance clients. Policies which have rarely been used in the past are now at the heart of insurance disputes.” Given how many companies take out both insurance and reinsurance, insurance is a practice area which finds itself in a continuous spiral of global expansion, the scale of which will only increase in light of coronavirus-related claims.

The application deadline for Clyde & Co's Summer Vacation Schemes is Sunday 3 January 2021

Digital healthcare is another growth area on investors’ watch lists. Vanessa Splaine, specialist in healthcare law and equity partner at Clyde & Co’s Manchester office, discussed the vital role which technology is predicted to play in medical diagnostics going forward. For example, she is currently working alongside machines which are learning to assess foetal wellbeing in utero and make decisions on whether to expediate delivery. Although, as Splaine cautioned, the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare also gives rise to complex liability issues. She asked the virtual audience, “who is the estate going to sue; the doctor, the distributor, or the software provider?” Questions of attributing risk in digital healthcare are multifaceted and it may require an industry-wide effort to distribute the liability costs before it can really take off.

Careers advice

Considering what attracted her to Clyde & Co and her respective practice area, Szuniewicz-Wenzel explained how her route into international arbitration was not something which she had planned, having originally completed her undergraduate degree in European environmental law. She said:

“You have to be flexible and adaptable. You may have a certain path in your head, but things will come your way and you have to be open to them. I am glad I went down the route of international arbitration, and I continue to find it a fascinating landscape to work in. This is especially as the doors open for online international arbitration, presenting an exciting opportunity for the industry to become more environmentally conscious.”

Speaking to students seeking to pursue a future career with Clyde & Co, Schaloske offered this nugget of advice:

“For those interested in doing legal work at the highest technical level and shaping their workplace, Clyde & Co is the ideal spot. We are committed to growth internationally/across the regions and everyone is welcome to join us on our endeavours. We need you to help us achieve our goals.”

The application deadline for Clyde & Co's Summer Vacation Schemes is Sunday 3 January 2021

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