Thomas King


Trainee secondment to Vodafone

For the third seat of my training contract, I joined Vodafone on client secondment and am part of their Technology & Outsourcing (T&O) team.

T&O is a vibrant and very friendly sub-group that forms part of the Corporate Centre within Vodafone’s Legal & Business Integrity function, which sits at a group level. My work so far has been varied and very interesting. Broadly, it involves advising on contract law and intellectual property law within the context of procurement agreements and other commercial contracts. I also assist internal stakeholders and the Group Litigation team in managing disputes with suppliers arising out of those contracts.

The most important difference between my work at Vodafone and my work at the firm is that, at Vodafone, my work usually involves assisting non-lawyers from across the business, rather than members of a client’s in-house legal team or internal colleagues. This obviously necessitates a different style of communication to that which I use with colleagues with a legal background. It also requires (and allows) me to develop a deep understanding of each stakeholder’s commercial objectives and of the associated pressures that they are facing.

As my client at Vodafone is the business itself, and given the inherent different functions of in-house lawyers and external counsel, I have had the opportunity to take on further responsibility at Vodafone - I have been able to lead calls with stakeholders and suppliers, to negotiate contractual terms with counterparties, and to draft a wide range of documents in both transactional and contentious contexts. This responsibility has really honed the skills and confidence that will allow me to succeed upon qualification.

In terms of challenges I’ve faced during my secondment, taking on greater responsibility can prove daunting at first. This is particularly so when you need to negotiate an agreement with a supplier at short notice ahead of an important meeting, for example! This is one of the key benefits of going on client secondment, though, and so it is a challenge I’ve quickly learned to relish.

Professionally, I have really enjoyed taking ownership over my work and manging matters for internal stakeholders from start to finish. It has also been satisfying to see my advice translated into contracts and other documents, and to act in negotiations with large counterparties.

From a personal perspective, the T&O team and the wider Vodafone Legal & Business Integrity team are really friendly, so it has been great to spend time with my colleagues outside of work for lunches, drinks, and other social events. A particular highlight was the Legal & Business Integrity conference in London in September; I had the opportunity to meet Vodafone colleagues from around the world, and I have gone on to develop those connections even further with many of them.

A client secondment represents a fantastic opportunity to push yourself out of your comfort zone, both personally and professionally. You also meet great lawyers at the client business and have the chance to broaden your professional network.