Firms escalate overseas secondment offerings

Overseas secondments are the latest battleground for graduate recruitment teams, with several law firms introducing foreign seats to attract talent.

The Lawyer 2B Annual Secondment Survey 2007, out this week with the October edition of Lawyer 2B, found that Herbert Smith has recently launched a trainee seat in New Zealand, with Slaughter and May being the only other firm featured in the survey to offer a seat there.

Herbert Smith, which has fewer overseas offices than most of its rivals, is offering its new corporate seat in Auckland with New Zealand firm Bell Gully, one of a number of firms Herbert Smith works closely with in this jurisdiction.

Herbert Smith partner Chris Haynes said: “We’ve got a number of Bell Gully alumni at Herbert Smith, so it was a logical step to send a trainee to their offices in Auckland. Looking at the grey skies here today, working in New Zealand clearly holds some attraction.”

DLA Piper, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Lovells and Reed Smith Richards Butler have all introduced seats in Dubai in the past year. Lovells has abolished its Milan and New York seats due to the lack of English-qualified lawyers in those offices.

Freshfields, which offers the highest number of overseas secondments, will no longer be offering a seat in Budapest following the magic circle firm’s decision earlier this month to terminate its formal relationship with Hungary-based law firm Rein és Társai. However, Freshfields has introduced a secondment to its Barcelona office.

White & Case has also ramped up its overseas secondment programme in recent months, introducing seats to New York and Almaty.

Overseas secondments are highly sought after by trainees, with only a handful of firms, including Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Watson Farley & Williams and White & Case, guaranteeing a foreign seat to all of their trainees.