One of our trainee secondees Tamasin Dorosti answers some questions about how she secured the secondment and her experiences in Brussels over the past few months.
Why did you decide to apply for the Brussels secondment?
I already knew about the secondment having been on the Junior Lawyers Division Executive Committee for several years and we would usually advertise it. I have always wanted to do international work and work abroad so it seemed like the perfect opportunity and especially with Brexit, I thought it would be a particularly unique experience. Being on the JLD I also worked closely with the Law Society, which I really enjoyed and I was keen to resume my involvement and again work in a representative role examining the key issues that face the profession.
How did you get the support of your firm?
Firstly I approached the mentor I have within my firm to tell her about the opportunity and ask how I should go about applying. I only had a week before the deadline therefore I approached our managing partner directly. We then discussed it in more detail and the management committee as a whole were supportive which was really great to hear.
What did you do to prepare for the secondment, in terms of logistics and the job?
I spent most of my time looking for accommodation. The Law Society were helpful in that they recommended specific areas to live so I concentrated on those. I visited Brussels for one day to view accommodation and saw 6 places. I found the place I live now which I am very happy with. I also made other logistical preparations such as health and travel insurance and ensuring I could make international transactions and withdraw cash here without incurring charges.
In terms of preparation for the job, I did my best to get up to speed with what was going on in Brussels in relation to Brexit, what the key political issues were in the UK and EU as well as reading Law Society position papers and publications by the Brussels Office.
What skills do you think you have gained and developed over the last 6 months?
I have gained a good understanding of the General Data Protection Regulation and the key provisions within it as well as the ePrivacy Regulation by monitoring the progress of this through Brussels. Within my portfolios I am seeing how technology is changing the legal profession and I am learning about how AI and machine learning is set to transform how legal services are provided which is really fascinating. My writing skills have improved as I am constantly drafting papers, legal summaries, articles and event reports. We are also regularly networking with lobbyists, policy advisers and lawyers.
What has been your highlight of working in the Brussels office?
In my first month, myself and the two other trainees went to a lunch hosted by the Estonian Prime Minister which was the first time I had seen a politician present in person. A personal highlight for me was attending ‘Legal Services in a Data Driven World’ at The Law Society which I found really inspirational in terms of where technology is taking the profession and how the profession can best embrace and utilise these developments.
What areas of work do you cover and how is the work divided up?
I mainly assist our EU policy adviser on professional practice which includes working on portfolios such as data protection, technology (and AI), transparency and legal professional privilege. I also assist the Head of Office with her role as Information Officer and Brussels Representative for the CCBE (Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe). In total there are three EU policy advisers and three trainee solicitors so we generally assist one policy adviser each.
What have you found to be the biggest challenge and how did you overcome that?
It has been a long time since I studied EU law at university so I wanted to do a lot of reading up on that including the role of each institution, the role of the different courts as well as generally getting up to speed with the political landscape in the EU. It takes a while to really get to grips with how each institution works and its different processes, procedures, committees and working groups. It is also hard to appreciate until you are here, the size and gravity of each institution, which can be really challenging to navigate.
What does your daily routine look like?
First thing will always involve looking at the headlines for the latest update on Brexit and the EU. I work on the CCBE portfolio so I regularly monitor communications for the UK Delegation and the IT Law/Surveillance Committees and assist our Head of Office by drafting agendas and producing summaries of each paper. We often have events to attend at lunch time such as seminars, or roundtables either at the British Chamber of Commerce or the European Policy Centre. I will also usually have an area to research and summarise, for example producing a summary of the key points in the Article 29 Working Party Guidance on Data Breach Notification Guidelines. A large part of the role involves keeping abreast of political developments in the EU.
What value do you think this has added to your training contract?
I would really like to qualify as a commercial and technology solicitor so the fact I have had the opportunity to work on areas such as data protection and technology has given me really good foundations for this. I have been able to get live updates on key legislation in these areas which are really helpful to my firm and the fact I am sitting at the heart of the legislative process means many developments will be hot off the press. I have also had a close insight into what the Law Society is doing in these areas which is valuable information I can feedback to my firm.