The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
City heavyweight Ashurst operates in all the principal areas of commercial law, including private equity and investment funds, and counts blue-chip companies and international banks among its clients. The firm won Restructuring Team of the Year in the Legal Business Awards 2017. Ashurst is set to relocate from Appold Street to Spitalfields in 2019.
The star performers
Acquisition finance; Bank lending - investment grade debt and syndicated loans; Commercial property; Commodities: derivatives; Corporate tax; Debt capital markets; Derivatives and structured products; Emerging markets; Equity capital markets; EU and competition; Flotations (small and mid-cap); Infrastructure (including PFI and PPP); Investment funds; Islamic finance; Oil and gas; Power (including electricity; nuclear and renewables); Private equity: transactions; Property finance; Rail.
Advised China General Nuclear Power Corporation regarding the tax aspects of an investment into Hinkley Point C; advised a syndicate of lenders including Barclays and J.P. Morgan in connection with Countryside Properties' successful £1.1bn main-market London IPO; acted for M&G Investment on its acquisition of equity and debt interests in Alliance Medical, and on its subsequent disposal of the company to Life Healthcare; handled the acquisition of 50% interest in the Autopista Central toll road in Chile from AIMCo on behalf of Abertis.
Abertis Infraestructuras; Balfour Beatty; Crossrail; CVC Credit Partners; Direct Cash Payments; EnQuest plc; HSBC; Inflexion Private Equity; Lloyds Banking Group; Siccar Point.
Ashurst's 'established reputation as a quality City firm' with 'strong and reputable practices' was a major attraction for trainees. Respondents were impressed by the firm's ability to maintain a 'friendly atmosphere without compromising on leading deals' and enjoyed the 'quality work' and 'more substantive tasks' they receive thanks to the 'medium-sized trainee intake'. The supportive working environment was consistently praised, with one trainee saying 'there is no sense of trainees or fee-earners competing with each other, meaning you can always ask for help'. In fact, the 'willingness to teach and explain' was a prominent theme, with respondents not hesitating to admit that they 'really enjoy working with colleagues and learn a lot from them'. Trainees complained about having to do 'long hours in certain departments' but as one respondent mentioned: 'although I have worked some very long hours, on the whole these have been less than in some other comparable firms'. A perceived 'lack of transparency in the seat allocation and qualification processes' also caused some discontent. On the plus side, trainee stand-out moments included 'debating the merits of a case at a consultation with a QC' and 'assisting on the completion of two very large and very high-profile public M&A/equity capital market deals'. Many of the current cohort cited the vacation scheme as a reason for choosing the firm over others, earning Ashurst a Lex 100 Winner medal in this category. The firm's CSR opportunities are described as 'amazing' with a 'huge variety of projects to get involved in' and 'no limits on how much you can do'. For 'quality work, an international outlook and a friendly, personable environment', apply to Ashurst.
A day in the life of...
Beth Harris second-seat trainee, Ashurst LLP
Departments to date: Real estate, dispute resolution
Degree:Law LLB (1st)
9.00am: People in real estate tend to get in a little earlier than most other departments so I get in most days between 8.45 and 9am. I tend to check my emails and to-do list on my way into work because in real estate, everyone has a large number of matters on at once rather than being on one or two larger matters so it is good to know what is coming up for the day. I start on a few smaller tasks before emails start to fly in.
10.30am: We have a call with a client every week where we provide them with an update on the status of various lettings we are completing for their development. I'm on the call with two associates and I am in charge of a tracker detailing the progress for each of the units in the development including ongoing tasks. I take notes during the call and then write up the tracker afterwards and circulate round to everyone.
11.30am: I get a call from the landlord of my client ready to complete a lease a senior associate has been negotiating. I'm in charge of completing the lease and all the post-completion tasks. We complete the lease over the phone by dating the signed copies, then I update the senior associate and client that the lease has been completed. I get started on the post-completion tasks such as registering the lease and SDLT.
1.00pm: As it's a sunny day, I head off with a few trainees to Exchange Square to eat lunch outside.
1.45pm: I receive an email from the other side with comments on the first draft of a licence I sent out. I read through the changes, marking each one as acceptable, negotiable or unacceptable. I talk through my comments with an associate, who agrees and asks me to reply accordingly. Often, trainees are given the primary responsibility when negotiating licences. While it's a lot of responsibility, there's lots of support from the supervising associate should you need it.
2.30pm: While I am drafting the response to the draft licence, a partner phones me and asks me to do an urgent research task ready for her meeting at 4pm. In real estate, you quickly develop the ability to manage competing priorities because often ad hoc tasks come in during the day.
3.15pm: After researching the issue and writing a short note, I go and speak to the partner. We talk through the issue and everything I have found and she asks me to send her a soft copy of the note so that she can send it onto the client in preparation for the meeting. She copies me into the email and the client thanks us both for the helpful note. When I get back to my desk, I go back to the other side with comments on the draft licence.
4.30pm: I head over to the Writs for a meeting with the trainee ball committee. I'm helping with decorations and sourcing prizes for our charity raffle, with all proceeds going to the London Air Ambulance. Any last-minute tasks get delegated out and we all leave excited for the ball.
5.00pm: I continue with the post-completion tasks for the lease which completed earlier, finishing the SDLT return and letting the tax department know it's ready for them to review. The Land Registry application is also ready to go as soon as the SDLT is done.
6.00pm: I reply to a requisition from the Land Registry asking for more information on an application we submitted last week to register the purchase of development land.
7.00pm: Once this is done, I write my to-do list for tomorrow. I sort out my time recording for the day then head out for drinks with a few of the other trainees.
About the firm
Address:Broadwalk House, 5 Appold Street, London, EC2A 2AG
Telephone: 020 7638 1111
Fax:020 7638 1112
Chairman : Ben Tidswell
Managing partner : Paul Jenkins
Other offices: Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Brisbane, Brussels, Canberra, Dubai, Frankfurt, Glasgow (support office), Hong Kong, Jakarta (associated office), Jeddah (associated office), London, Madrid, Melbourne, Milan, Munich, New York, Paris, Perth, Port Moresby, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Washington DC.
Who we are: With 25 offices in 15 countries and a number of referral relationships, we offer the reach and insight of a global network, combined with the knowledge and understanding of local markets.
What we do: Our clients are at the heart of our thinking; our ambition is to be our clients' most incisive partner. You will see we have a prestigious client base, with whom we build strong partnerships working closely together on large and complex multi-jurisdictional transactions to deliver incisive and insightful commercial solutions.
What we are looking for: We expect a lot of ourselves - and so, as you would expect, you will need to be comfortable with challenges and pressure. You should also be able to express yourself confidently on paper and out loud, whether that's among your team or in a client's boardroom. You'll need to become a shrewd negotiator, have an ability to read both balance sheets and behaviours, and become a commercial strategist with a deep understanding of specific industries.
What you'll do:We will plan closely with you four seats of six months each, that will broaden your world view and hone your talents. At least one seat will be in a finance practice and another within a transactional department. You will also have the opportunity to apply for an overseas or client secondment.
Perks: Private medical insurance, life assurance, income protection, pension (including contribution from Ashurst), season ticket loan (interest free), dental insurance, ISA savings account, technology purchase plan, holiday purchase, travel insurance, reduced-rate gym membership, childcare vouchers, cycle to work scheme, give as you earn, onsite services including doctor, dentist, physiotherapist and masseuse, 25 days' holiday (plus bank holidays), staff restaurant.
Sponsorship:For the GDL and LPC, we offer scholarships that cover course fees and provide £8,000 per year towards the cost of maintenance (£7,000 if you study the GDL outside London).
Facts and figures
Trainee places available for 2020: 40
First year: £42,000
Second year: £47,000
Newly qualified: £72,000
Total partners: 388
Apply to:Nick Wong, graduate recruitment partner.
When to Apply:1 October 2017-7 January 2018; 1 May-31 July 2018.
Whats involved:Written case study; competency-based interview with a member of the graduate recruitment team; scenario-based interview with two partners from our trainee interviewing committee (takes place on all training contract interview days, or after the vacation scheme for those who go on to interview for a training contract).
Spring:9-13 April 2018 (apply by 7 January 2018)
Summer:25 June-13 July 2018; 23 July-10 August 2018 (apply by 7 January 2018)
Winter: 11-15 December 2017 (apply by 5 November 2017)