This summer, I was fortunate enough to win Berwin Leighton Paisner’s Inspiring Leaders Competition, leading to the opportunity of a week’s work experience in their Singapore office.
The competition was in two stages, the first involving submitting an essay, whilst the second involved giving a presentation to the London office. As a non-law student, the week spent in the Singapore office was extremely useful in terms of gaining practical experience of what commercial legal work entails whilst also offering a great insight into working abroad.
I worked mainly in the asset finance team, which centred on aircraft financing and leasing. I was tasked with constructing a bible index for a recently closed aircraft purchase, which meant recording all the documents that were involved in the deal.
I learnt that the most important thing is to be organised. When dealing with a lot of documents, it is easy to get overwhelmed, but taking the extra time to make a clear plan is definitely worth it. It is also true that when dealing with individual contracts, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture of the complex leasing structure. However my colleagues were helpful in explaining the larger legal and financial context of each deal, which made the work much easier.
The most interesting work that I did was for a partner in corporate finance. He was going to be speaking at a conference about new ways of financing renewable energy through crowdfunding, and therefore asked me to do some research for him. Small startups, such as Mosaic in America, have revolutionised the field of energy finance by giving local renewable projects easier access to the money that they need.
It was an enjoyable challenge trying to find out information about something that is very cutting-edge and therefore lacks clear legislation in many jurisdictions. Furthermore, it was good to see how useful the research and writing skills that one learns at university translate into a corporate environment.
Due to the fact that Singapore is a very international and diverse country and that everybody speaks English, I found that there is not much difference between working in Singapore and the UK. However, the hot weather leads to a somewhat more informal working culture, such as men not having to wear jackets or ties to work. My colleagues were extremely friendly and generous, treating me with delicious lunches each day, and generally making me feel at home. I had a great time at the office in Singapore, and I would like to thank the firm and everyone involved in the competition for allowing me to have such an amazing experience.
Samuel Abreo is entering his third year as an English student at Bristol University.