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Cultural Awareness for NextGen Lawyers

I always greatly enjoy going to New York in June to work with the next generation of lawyers who are taking part in Clifford Chance’s summer vacation schemes. These nextgen lawyers are generally approaching the end of their studies and just about to embark on a career as an international lawyer with one of the BigLaw firms. As part of this summer scheme they are also lucky enough to get to spend a few weeks working in one of the Clifford Chance international offices. This year the new lawyers were going to London, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Hong Kong and Singapore.
What an extraordinary opportunity at this stage of their careeers!
We looked at the various areas where cultural difference can impact on the work of an international lawyer with particular reference to effective cross-border communication. It was interesting to see how enthusiastic and engaged the delegates were duing the programme – I always worry that they might have had enough ‘classroom’ teaching at this stage and just be itching to get their teeth stuck into some real legal work.
Whilst in the New York office I also spent some time with support staff looking at the various challenges of working across the barriers of culture, language and technology within a global law firm. Once again, the key message coming out of this session was that, because nothing is spontaneous in a virtual relationship, everything needs much more careful planning.