Sohaib Hussain
What was your experience at Burness Paull?

2020 was unique. A legal internship working-from-home was certainly a daunting prospect. Burness Paull, however, managed to create a thoroughly effective placement programme. First and foremost, the most enjoyable aspect of this placement was having the opportunity to, virtually, meet a range of different people and personalities – who were all extremely welcoming and approachable. Burness Paull makes a point of its unique company culture and this is instantly evident. All my experiences with the firm indicated a willingness to succeed and grow as a company, underwritten by a little bit of fun along the way. Individuality is encouraged!

Reduced to only a week, the placement consisted of a sole seat where every student was allocated a trainee ‘buddy’ as well as a supervisor. My week in Dispute Resolution began with an introductory meeting with my buddy who was able to clearly articulate lots of information about the team, the firm, and the specific work I would be expected to do over the course of the week. I was introduced to the wider team and instantly made to ‘feel at home’ (quite literally,) and given various tasks by people across the team. Over the course of the placement the work given to me, which seemed typically representative of a trainees workload, included research tasks for newsletters, case summaries for partners, writing up short notes for clients and drafting a range of documents, generally administrative or correspondence to clients/opposing counsels.

Burness Paull also provided daily presentations/talks from people across the firm relating to a range of programmes and initiatives: legal tech; Corporate Social Responsibility, diversity, and inclusivity.

What are your tips for a successful vacation scheme?
  1. “Be You” – The firm encourages individuality and promotes a culture in which everybody is comfortable to be themselves. Not only will being yourself offer you a chance to stand out, but it gives you the most realistic experience of how you will operate in a commercial legal environment. Moreover, it is as much an opportunity for the firm to assess you as it is for you to assess the firm. Sticking to your traits allows both parties to make the most of the placement and make the correct decision regarding where you want to begin your legal career.
  2. “There’s no such thing as a stupid question, only a stupid answer” – For the vast majority of students, this is the first substantial experience within a corporate law firm. It is vital that you feel comfortable and confident enough to ask all the questions you want to, because that is the best way to learn and make the most of your placement.
  3. “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” ­– The entire intake of students are incredibly talented and academically successful individuals, but nothing shouts ‘employable’ more than somebody who is willing to go the extra mile to create a lasting impression. Working alongside experienced lawyers and partners of the firm, you are not expected to be the smartest person in the room, simply that you display the enthusiasm and commitment that the role requires.