The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Akin Gump is one of the world’s largest law firms. The London office is the firm’s main international hub and inherited its training programme from the London office of Bingham McCutchen which joined the firm in October 2014. The firm is renowned for its energy, financial restructuring, capital markets, investment funds and tax work.
The star performers
Bank lending: investment grade debt and syndicated loans; Banking litigation: investment and retail; Commercial litigation; Corporate restructuring and insolvency; Corporate tax; Debt capital markets; Emerging markets; EU and competition; Financial services (non-contentious/regulatory); Fraud: civil; International arbitration; Investment fund formation and management; M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+; Oil and gas; Private equity: transactions – high-value deals
Represented multiple financial institution investors with interests in the bid by 21st Century Fox for Sky Counsel; advised the committee of bondholders of Norske Skog on the financial restructuring of $1bn debt; represented Tatneft in $380m English litigation proceedings against four Ukrainian oligarchs; appointed by Palestine Power Generation Company to oversee its project to develop a power plant in Northern Palestine; assisted Oaktree Capital with selling its controlling shares in the Mars mortgage servicing business to Arrow Global Group
Affinion Group Holdings; Brunswick Rail; CEVA Group plc; Cramer Rosenthal McGlynn; Goldman Sachs; India Capital Management; Lukoil; OM Asset Management; Singapore Airlines; VEON
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld takes on only a handful of trainees, and with that comes increased access to high-level work. The ‘substantial amount of responsibility’ given to recruits at the US firm afforded them the opportunity to develop key skills early on in their training: ‘assisting with the settlement of a claim during my first couple of weeks was daunting but definitely helped me develop my skills and confidence’ reported one trainee. As such, it is no wonder that the firm is a Lex 100 Winner for job satisfaction, quality of work and remuneration. Although there are lots of opportunities to experience ‘high value and complex work’, that is not to say that trainees don’t sometimes engage in unglamorous tasks. There were reports of ‘a week spent filing’ and a Sunday evening spent ‘sorting out a trial bundle’. As is also to be expected, work days can be long, ‘unpredictable’ and ‘tough’, and working into the night and taking ‘early morning calls with people in Asia and the US’ isn’t uncommon, however, it is worth noting that trainees are ‘often encouraged to work remotely’. Great work and a plush remuneration package aren’t the only things on offer at the firm; ‘excellent pro bono opportunities’ are available and we hear it’s a developing practice. ‘The firm actively encourages everybody to take part in pro bono and is making a genuine attempt at ensuring people can feel comfortable in taking it on alongside their daily work’. So, if you’re looking to join a small cohort, have an ‘immersive’ learning experience and engage in some high-level legal work from the get-go, Akin Gump may be the one for you.
A day in the life of...
Kelvin Mahal first-year trainee solicitor, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
Departments to date: Litigation/arbitration (first seat), investment funds (current seat)
University:Monash University, University of Bristol
Degree:Psychology (High Distinction), MA in Law (Merit)
9.00am: I arrive at the office, located where the bustling city meets hipster Shoreditch. I get to my desk and go through any emails that have come in from the US and Asia overnight and review my to-do list for the day.
9.30am: A client is preparing for a large fund launch which involves negotiating several trading documents with various banks and other service providers throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. I ensure that the list tracking each document required for launch is up to date, in addition to calling the banks and service providers to clarify queries which the client has raised. Being the client contact for this part of the transaction, it’s important to always keep on top of everything in case the client asks for a general update or the status of a particular document, which can happen several times a day.
11.30am: I collate comments to an agenda received from our colleagues in the US and Singapore for a weekly update call with a client and send out the agenda for the call, which is to happen later this afternoon. As I finish sending out the agenda, an associate asks me to call our Cayman counsel to clarify their comments to a limited partnership agreement which were sent through via email the night before. After clarifying these points, I speak to the associate who asks me to mark-up the agreement to reflect the comments of the Cayman counsel and then send this out to all parties involved in the transaction.
12.30pm: I attend one of the firm’s lunchtime training sessions, which are delivered by partners and external speakers such as leading commercial QCs. This time, one of the partners in the cross-border transactions team goes through loan agreements and the important considerations to keep in mind in a restructuring context. Teams across Akin Gump’s international offices also dial into this session – lunchtime talks such as these are a great way of ensuring expertise is shared between our extensive network of international offices.
1.30pm: Shortly after lunch, a partner comes into the office and asks me to research a question from a hedge fund manager about whether being appointed to the management committee of a limited liability partnership results in the appointee incurring any additional liabilities. After spending roughly an hour looking into the question, the partner and I sit down to discuss my findings after which I am asked to provide a written research memorandum which is to go directly to the client.
3.30pm: An associate emails me asking for help putting together the first drafts of an alternative investment fund manager (AIFM) agreement and management agreement, both key documents in a hedge fund structure. I am also asked to free-draft some clauses reflecting the objectives of the client. This is a great opportunity to develop my drafting skills.
5.30pm: I attend our weekly client update call and take notes during the call. Listening into calls like this provides a great opportunity to develop my knowledge of investment funds and experience first-hand how partners interact with their clients. After the call with the client, the London and US teams have another call during which they formulate an action plan to help achieve the client’s objectives. I am asked to provide a brief, written summary of the call with the client as well as a draft of the action plan, both of which are to be distributed to the teams in London, Singapore and the US.
7.30pm: With my work for the day done, I jot down my to-do list for tomorrow and then head to the gym in the basement of the office before heading home.
About the firm
Address:Eighth Floor, Ten Bishops Square, London, E1 6EG
Telephone: 020 7012 9600
Fax:020 7012 9601
Senior partner: James Roome
Managing partner: Sebastian Rice
Other offices: Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Dallas, Dubai, Fort Worth, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hong Kong, Houston, Irvine, Longview, Los Angeles, Moscow, New York, Philadelphia, San Antonia, San Francisco, Singapore, Washington D.C.
Who we are: Akin Gump’s London office is the hub of the firm’s international offices, practising at the top of its markets. The firm’s clients range from corporations and financial institutions to foreign governments and individuals.
What we do: Market-leading practices include: financial restructuring, corporate transactions (including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and private equity), finance, energy and project finance, debt and equity capital markets, securities, financial services regulatory, litigation and international arbitration, investment funds, international trade and EU competition and tax.
What we are looking for: We hire the best and the brightest. We look for exceptional and consistent academic achievement combined with evidence of a driven outlook through extracurricular achievements. You should demonstrate intellectual curiosity, be solution-driven and keen for early responsibility.
What you'll do:Our London office is an exciting and inspiring environment to train in. By focusing on a smaller intake we maintain flexibility and seek to grow through our junior lawyer retention. Seats are tailored to three- or six-month durations to provide a breadth of experience.
Perks: Health insurance, income protection insurance, life insurance, travel insurance, dental insurance, pension, season ticket loan, annual eye exam, moneygym, employee assistance programme.
Sponsorship:GDL and LPC fees are paid in addition to a maintenance grant of £8,000 per year of study.
Facts and figures
Total partners: 40
Trainee places available for 2021: 4
Applications received pa: 350
Percentage interviewed: 15%
First year: £48,000
Second year: £52,000
Newly qualified: $190,000 (associate salaries are paid in US$ at a fixed quarterly exchange rate)
Apply to:Victoria Widdows – director of international legal recruiting and development.
What's involved:Online critical-thinking exercise, face-to-face interviews with members of the graduate recruitment panel.
When to apply:
Training contract: By 14 July 2019
Summer vacation scheme: By 31 January 2019