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, with 20 offices and over 900 lawyers. 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. Since then the training programme has continued to grow, increasing from an annual intake of two trainees per year to five. 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; Construction; Corporate restructuring and insolvency; Corporate tax; Debt capital markets; Emerging markets; EU and competition; Financial services (contentious); Financial services (non-contentious/regulatory); Hedge funds; International arbitration; Investment funds; M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+; Oil and gas; Private equity: transactions: Large-cap deal capability; Private funds; Securitisation; Trade, WTO, anti-dumping and customs.
Acted for USM Holdings on the $740m sale of its stake in Mail.ru Group to PJSC MegaFon; advised OM Asset Management and Old Mutual plc in connection with UK tax aspects of a $400m bond issuance and a subsequent $213m secondary offering; acted for the mezzanine lenders on the $2.5bn debt restructuring of Expro Holdings and Brunswick Rail, a Russian railcar leasing business on its $600m bond restructuring; acted for Lukoil on a $1bn Rule 144a/Reg S offering of notes, in a deal that represented the company's first Eurobond; advised on an international arbitration in Dubai concerning Dubai International Airport.
Alfa Bank; China State Construction Engineering Corporation (Middle East); Glen Point Capital; Lukoil; Palestine Power Generation Company; Premier Oil; O1 Properties; Old Mutual plc; OM Asset Management; RusHydro; VimpelCom.
US firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld offers an environment where trainees feel that they are 'working with and learning from leaders in their field'. The current cohort was drawn to the firm's 'technical reputation', in particular its specialism in 'financial law and financial restructuring', and praised the 'interesting and rewarding work'. The 'small intake' leads to trainees being 'very much treated as associates' within their teams and those surveyed clearly appreciated the opportunity to get involved in 'all aspects of a deal', never being 'confined to helping only on isolated tasks'. Training is 'more hands-on than at other firms' and there is a high 'level of partner contact when working on deals and transactions'. Some of the highlights for trainees were 'handling a massive signing for a senior partner on my own' and 'being the client contact on a transaction'. Away from their desks, trainees are regularly 'invited to networking events' by partners, which is proof that 'all the lawyers take a real interest in the trainee programme and want to make a success of it'. The firm is a Lex 100 Winner for confidence of being kept on. There were a few complaints about 'occasional long hours', including some 'weekend work' which 'can get quite tough during the busy transactional periods'. Trainees would also like to see more secondments on offer, although it was recognised that this was improving. On the plus side, the firm is 'very supportive of participation' in CSR activities and has a 'genuine enthusiasm for pro bono'. Apply to Akin Gump if you want 'good immersive training' in a firm where 'top-quality work and talented lawyers' are in abundance.
A day in the life of...
Samuel Gill first-year trainee solicitor, Akin Gump LLP
Departments to date: Cross-border transactions, finance (current)
Degree:Law (First class)
8.00am: I arrive at Akin Gump's London office at Ten Bishops Square, overlooking the historic Spitalfields Market, and secure my bike in the dedicated facilities in the basement of the office. I then head to the gym, which is just two minutes from the office.
8.45am: I respond to any emails which have come in from the US overnight and take a few minutes to read the Financial Times . I have a call in 15 minutes so I read through recent correspondence on the matter, after which a senior member of my team gives me a quick brief on any issues likely to come up and asks me to take notes during the call.
9.00am: I dial in to the call which is with one of our Moscow-based clients. The purpose of the call is to discuss comments made by the lenders to our client on the documentation for a US$1bn dollar facility which we are working on. The client is unhappy with the lenders' comments, and alternative wordings and negotiating strategies are discussed.
9.45am: I prepare a short note for the team summarising the client's instructions and the action points from the call. I am asked by my supervisor to prepare a mark-up of the guarantee (which forms part of the documentation for the facility), reflecting the client's comments. This is great experience to develop my drafting and reviewing skills.
12.30pm: I now attend one of the firm's lunchtime training sessions - these are delivered by partners and external speakers such as leading commercial QCs. On this occasion, we hear about the latest developments on Capitol Hill and President Trump's trade policy from partners in Akin Gump's Washington DC office. Akin Gump has a genuinely global reach with an impressive network of international offices. Lunchtime talks like this are just one of the ways in which the offices interact, and expertise is shared between lawyers in the firm.
1.30pm: Shortly after lunch, I join a call with a client and our colleagues from the New York office to discuss the progress of a transaction. I have assisted with the preparatory work and am encouraged to contribute - our training contract offers plenty of chances to take on responsibilities that might come only after qualification, if I was at another firm.
3.30pm: My supervisor asks me to register a series of aircraft mortgages in connection with a restructuring deal on which our team has been assisting with various finance elements. At Akin Gump there is a lot of interaction between the different teams in the London office. It gives me the opportunity to gain exposure to a wide variety of work and working styles.
5.00pm: I am given a research task by one of the partners in my team. I regularly work directly with the partners, who are directly involved in my development. The research relates to the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) and in particular the reporting requirements for relevant option transactions. I am asked to prepare a memorandum setting out my findings which can be passed onto the client.
7.30pm: With my work for the day done, I head to lively Shoreditch, only a short walk from the office, for a pint and a catch up with friends.
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
Total partners: 39
Other fee-earners: 53
Total trainees: 9
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 DC.
Who we are: Akin Gump's London office is the hub of the firm's international offices, practising at the top of its markets. Our clients range from corporations and financial institutions to foreign governments and individuals.
What we do: The core strengths of the office include financial restructuring, corporate transactions (including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and private equity), finance, energy, debt and equity capital markets, securitisation, financial regulatory, litigation/international arbitration, investment funds, international trade/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, season ticket loan, annual eye exam.
Sponsorship:GDL and LPC fees are paid in addition to a maintenance grant of £8,000 per year of study.
Facts and figures
Training contracts available for 2020: 4
Applications received pa: 300
Percentage interviewed: 15%
First year: £48,000
Second year: £52,000
Newly qualified: $180,000 (associate salaries are paid in USD at a fixed quarterly exchange rate)
Apply to:Victoria Widdows - director of international legal recruiting and development.
How: Online via website.
What's involved:Face-to-face interviews with members of the graduate recruitment panel.
When to apply:
Training contract: By 15 July 2018 for September 2020 training contracts.
Vacation scheme: By 31 January 2018 for July 2018 vacation scheme (date TBC).