Paris secondment story

Seeing the Arc de Triomphe on my walk to the Bredin Prat office every morning is the perfect start to the day. Bredin is best known as the leading firm for M&A in France and is also considered top-tier for employment, competition, insolvency and tax law, as well as commercial litigation. The firm has an exceptional client portfolio, which includes Carrefour, GE, Danone and even the French government. One of my favourite moments so far has been sitting in a meeting with a partner when the telephone rang – "Excusez-moi, Lavinia, l’État appelle" ("Sorry Lavinia, the Government is on the phone").

I'm working in the Corporate department and enjoying the challenge. Recent work includes assisting with a multi-jurisdictional reorganisation for a disposal of a business, coordinating due diligence and drafting the reports for two anticipated acquisitions, as well as advising on a potential purchase of energy assets. Although most of my written work has been in English, all discussions within the firm are in French. This has hugely improved my French and I feel confident conversing with clients and participating in training sessions. With the work being so international, I have developed relationships with local counsel all over the world, showing me first-hand the value of the 'Best Friend' network.

Like Slaughter and May, Bredin’s work extends to more than the advice it gives to clients: I have prepared presentations on pitching and French corporate governance for 'Best Friends' seminars, and every week I assist the Bredin partners who teach a course at Sciences Po on "Cross-border M&A". I certainly never expected that during my training contract I would be drafting and marking an exam for one of the most prestigious universities in France!

When you arrive on secondment in Paris, you are added to an email list of all other trainee solicitors, giving you an immediate network of friends. Also, with the Eurostar being so convenient, I've had guests nearly every weekend. I’ve therefore never been short of people to drag to museums, markets and brunches. My favourite weekend activities seem to always involve art or food and fortunately the choice for these in Paris is endless! Living just minutes from the Grand Palais means that I am usually able to arrive first in the queues for the weekend art fairs such as FIAC or Paris Photo. This weekend I'm going on a sketching course at L’Académie de la Grande Chaumière.

My colleagues have not only been kind enough to recommend fantastic bars and restaurants all over the city, but have also taken me to some wonderful places, such as a Korean restaurant, which looks absolutely tiny from the outside, but hides a secret karaoke room in the basement. I've also had the opportunity to visit other areas of France: last weekend I was in Normandy and soon I will be skiing in the French Alps.

On my walk back from the office, I pass the famous Ladurée (the luxury bakery and sweet-maker). Fortunately, the hordes of people queuing outside enable me to resist the temptation to buy macarons every day. However, these dedicated tourists are a constant reminder of how lucky I am to be here.

Lavinia Bailey
Trainee secondment to Bredin Prat