I was over the moon when I received the email from my partner, which confirmed that my application to participate in the Osborne Clarke international exchange programme had been accepted.
His response to my application to spend a week working from our office in Brussels was, ”You work from Brussels regularly, Rebecca” – I was, to be fair, reading his email from Brussels at the time – ”so we’ve decided to send you to Italy instead …” I was thrilled! Osborne Clarke runs the exchange programme every year, offering around 50 lawyers the opportunity to experience life in a different location.
My expectations were totally exceeded. During the first two days of the trip I was warmly welcomed, along with five other lawyers on the exchange, by our team in Milan. A tour of the Milanese Court of Appeal, a lunchtime outing to the famous Duomo Cathedral and an evening reception at a partner’s very own (rather swanky) cocktail bar provided ample opportunity to mix with members of the team and gain a real appreciation of the work with which they are involved.
We knew that the Milan team had a strong reputation for its commercial, corporate and litigation practices, but sitting together we identified a number of opportunities where we might assist one another’s clients with their pan-European legal needs.
After my time in Milan, I spent the second half of the week with our colleagues in Osborne Clarke’s Rome office. Nestled amongst some of Europe’s most iconic and historic buildings, overlooking the Piazza Venezia (housing the Vittoriano and Mussolini’s balcony) and just a stones throw from the Colosseum, the office itself is a sight to behold. My commute took me on a journey through the Roman Forums, which was a definitely a highlight of the trip.
I was impressed by the calibre of the work carried out by the competition team, which is the area in which I practice. Enrico Fabrizi, the partner who heads up the team, worked for the Italian competition authority when it was in its infancy and was heavily involved in some of the seminal decisions and the drafting of much of the Italian competition legislation and decisions. It was a privilege to gain exposure to the team’s cartel instructions during my stay.
I could get used to La Dolce Vita – we dined Al-Fresco for lunch, (despite it being mid-October). Traditional anti-pasti was followed by primi and secondi menu, and after several hours back in the office, we headed out in the early evening for an aperitivo. I had worked with the Roman team on pan-European matters before the trip, but these social gatherings provided the perfect opportunity to build on my existing relationships with our Roman colleagues.
If any lawyers have the chance to do something similar, I would highly recommend it – what an unforgettable experience it was.
Rebecca Malone is an associate at Osborne Clarke