Could you tell us about yourself and why you decided to pursue a career in law?
I’m Alicia Loh, and I hold Bachelor of Arts (Law) and Master of Law degree from the University of Cambridge. I am currently a third seat trainee at Shearman & Sterling (S&S), sat in the Financial Institutions Advisory & Financial Regulatory Group. My first two departments were Finance and Mergers & Acquisitions. I decided to pursue a career in law as it affects so many things that we interact with on a daily basis, from restaurant chains and supermarkets to logistics companies that get groceries to our doorsteps. Commercial law seemed to be the perfect match of this interest, my passion for law, and the skillset I seek to develop.
Why did you choose Shearman & Sterling and what do you think is the main thing that differentiates S&S from other US firms and magic circle firms?
Having worked in Shearman for more than a year, I have seen first-hand that we provide excellent quality of work to clients, and trainees also receive great training, both formally and on-the-job. Despite being busy themselves, associates and partners are willing to take the time to teach trainees, which is vital for learning and development. Furthermore, the environment is positive and collaborative, which makes a massive difference when the work is intense!
How has your language skill helped shape your career as a solicitor? Is there any travel involved?
We mainly use English in the London office, though I have done some pro-bono translation work. Travel is not a part of my day-to-day job as a trainee, though we have six-month secondment opportunities to Singapore, Dubai and more. English is still used predominantly in these offices. That said, some associates and partners do travel a fair bit.
How has remote working affected your firm’s relationship with its clients? In other words, how is Shearman & Sterling helping clients to navigate the legal issues they may face?
From what I’ve seen, Shearman has provided the same quality of work, if not better, to our clients and we have adapted very well. In addition, we have been able to reach out in new ways, like organising online presentations to clients about the legal implications of COVID-19. We have also released topical podcasts on our website.
How is the firm promoting diversity and inclusion progression and pro bono initiatives?
I will split this into two: diversity and inclusion and pro bono initiatives.
All firms need to do more to improve diversity and make the workplace a more inclusive environment. Shearman is doing its part and we have, for example, inclusion networks that represent marginalised communities within our firm. We also have monthly open forums where we are encouraged to discuss the topics of diversity, inclusion, and belonging in a no-judgment environment.
On the pro bono front, lawyers across the firm, including trainees, are actively encouraged to get involved, with stickers next to our name if we meet certain targets being a light-hearted incentive. There are legal clinics we can attend and piecemeal projects as well as longer-term projects where we get to work with people from different departments and jurisdictions. This is a particularly great opportunity for trainees to get to know people from the firm, including different practice areas, better. Over the past few months, I have provided pro bono advice on COVID-19-related queries, assisted social enterprises, and much more.
Where do you see the firm in 5/10 years?
We value our relationship with clients and always seek to strengthen these relationships. In addition, we are also focussing on growth and in recent months, we have gained a number of partners in various practices.
What tips would you share to candidates during a vacation scheme to increase their chances of being offered a training contract?
Candidates must have a high quality of work, including strong attention to detail, and a great work ethic. With everything else being equal, what can make an applicant stand out is showing that they are a genuinely decent, good person. We spend a lot of time working together, and associates and partners alike want to make sure that a candidate will be a positive addition to the team and that they can imagine working with this applicant. There is no “mould” that an applicant must fit—there are lots of different personality types in the firm, and people really do want to get to know candidates—but being a genuinely decent person is very important.
We would like to extend a massive thank you to Alicia for providing us with such great advice and tips.