My route to Freshfields was rather circuitous but it actually gave me a firm base for my career. I spent time studying in both Paris and London, with training and internships in Paris, London and Brussels, including 19 months at Freshfields' Brussels office. I am a French qualified lawyer but with a good international experience, which is useful because most of the cases I handle here are international.
Prior to qualification, I decided to apply for an internship to a few firms in Brussels. I had several interviews and offers but Freshfields was the obvious choice. I found their reputation in competition practice was excellent but the difference from other firms was apparent at my interview: most other firms treated interviews as little more than box-ticking exercises with a list of pre-set questions. At Freshfields it was more relaxed, pleasant and the whole selection process felt like a conversation rather than an interrogation.
Now I'm working in Brussels, and I'm enjoying the wide range of the work. I'm working on international transactions with people from all over the world and I definitely enjoy working in a larger firm. You can see the distinct approaches that different people take, and as a junior it's a great way to broaden your experience. But you also get to see a range of different issues - you're certainly not just doing the same work over and over again.
We get plenty of opportunities outside work as well. This year about 14 of us participated in the Blueprint touch rugby tournament which takes place in Brussels over May and June. It is not only fun to play together but it is also a great way to meet other people from the EU institutions and businesses. Another initiative that we get the opportunity to get involved in is the school reading project. About a dozen of us from our office volunteer at a local nursery school. The majority of the children there don't have the opportunity to be read to at home, so every few weeks we'll go in for an hour to read. Many of us chip in - lawyers, trainees, secretaries, HR - you feel like you're giving something back to the community, and children have such a refreshing attitude. It helps put things in perspective at work.