Looking out from the office window onto Marina Bay Sands and the sea beyond it, makes you stop and realise that you’re not in London any more.
Although I have only been in Singapore for just under a month, I already know that saying goodbye to this city will be hard.
The Linklaters office takes up half a floor of a building which is shared with banks, other law firms and companies. In total there are about 38 lawyers, with around 25 additional staff who provide incredible support ranging from amending documents to bringing you tea or coffee and replenishing your water throughout the day. As a trainee, you are quickly made to feel part of the team and the associates and partners are always happy to answer questions on work related matters, as well as to give you recommendations for good places to eat and what to do at weekends.
As you’d expect from being an office in one of the Asian economic hubs, there is also plenty of interesting work to do. Having sat in the Projects team in London, I was keen to get more Projects and Banking experience and therefore applied for a Projects/Banking secondment to Singapore. Already in my first few weeks I have been working on deals involving wind farms in China, a telecommunications network in Afghanistan and an oil field in India. Trainees on secondment are given a lot of responsibility from early on, which from a development perspective, is hugely beneficial.
The pace in Singapore is generally less rushed than in London – mainly due to the climate being steadily over 30 degrees each day. The city is vibrant and like London, there is a vast mix of people of different nationalities and races, which makes for a great atmosphere. The people are friendly and always take the time to help (to the extent of taking you somewhere even if they are headed in a completely different direction, as myself and another trainee found out on our first day). It also makes for a pleasant change to have an efficient underground transport system (the MRT) which is clean, value-for-money and air-conditioned, which makes travelling long distances somewhat easier.
The trainees are lucky to live close to work and in the heart of the city and Central Business District, with views overlooking the sea and the marina, which makes for a stunning view to wake to each morning from my flat on the 42nd floor. Linklaters usually sends between six and eight trainees to Singapore each seat, and combined with the other firms’ trainees, there are around 35 trainees in Singapore, which ensures that there are always things to do when you are not at work. There is plenty to do and the outdoor bars, restaurants, hawker centres and shopping malls are packed with a mix of tourists and locals. Despite having only been here a few weeks, I have already been with other trainees to Sentosa Island (the Singapore beach resort and Universal Studios Resort) and travelled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend. The opportunities for travel are incredible and I would advise any trainees who undertake a seat overseas to make the most of the time that they are abroad.
I have loved every moment so far that I have been here in Singapore - a city with an amazing mix of cultures, a city which you can be right in heart of, yet be right next to the sea, and a city which I look forward to spending my next five months in…