The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Berwin Leighton Paisner is acclaimed for its real estate expertise, encompassing the commercial property, construction, property litigation and planning departments. The firm also offers high-quality commercial and private client services. The firm announced the opening of a Myanmar office in November 2015, its fourth in Asia and 14th globally. BLP was nominated for Legal Technology Team of the Year at the Legal Business Awards 2016.
The star performers
Acquisition finance; Asset financing and leasing; Bank lending (investment grade debt and syndicated loans); Charities and not-for-profit; Contentious trusts and probate; Corporate restructuring and insolvency; Derivates and structured products; Emerging markets; Employee share schemes; Employment: employers; Health and safety; Infrastructure (including PFI and PPP); Mining and minerals; Oil and gas; Pensions (non-contentious); Personal tax, trusts and probate; Rail; Securitisation; Water.
Acted for Goldman Sachs on developing its listed futures business; advised Ncondezi Energy on an agreement with Shanghai Electric Power Company to develop a coal-fired power plant in Mozambique; advising Amber Infrastructure and Aviva Investors as the funders on the £110m financing of 12 schools as part of the Priority Schools Building Programme; acting for National Grid on the UK’s first EU-funded carbon capture and storage project; acting for key client Thames Water in a £55m dispute brought by the Canal & River Trust regarding Thames Water’s right to abstract water from the River Lee.
3i Infrastructure Partners; Battersea Cats and Dogs Home; Bombardier; Credit Suisse; Goldman Sachs; Haversham Holdings; Lloyds; Patron Capital; Rothschild (Singapore); Tesco.
Many respondents cite Berwin Leighton Paisner’s ‘property focus’ as a major attraction, and the City firm certainly commands an ‘impressive client base’ befitting its status as ‘the best real estate firm in the country’. This ‘highly-respected practice’, which includes the ‘top-rated land and planning departments’, affords trainees the chance to work on ‘high-quality projects’, such as ‘assisting a partner on a £100m deal’, ‘helping to close a huge corporate reorganisation in my first seat’ and ‘finally closing the structuring and financing of a European deal after many nights spent at my desk’. As the latter example suggests, there will be periods of ‘long hours’, and one respondent wrote that ‘working on a difficult deal meant staying into the early hours of the morning on several days’. More favourable comments were centred on the ‘great vacation scheme’. One trainee appreciated how ‘friendly and welcoming everyone was’, while another stated that ‘partners went out of their way to give me good work’. BLP has a ‘great reputation for excellent training and taking care of its lawyers’. Its bespoke LPC programme is considered ‘comprehensive’, and the ‘positive working environment’ at the firm cultivates a ‘friendly and inclusive culture’. There are concerns about the ‘lack of transparency on qualification’, particularly as ‘retention rates have been disappointing for recent cohorts’, yet the firm is also said to ‘take care of its lawyers’. Other plus points are the ‘fantastic opportunities’ for international and client secondments, and that after the working day, the ‘social events are always good fun’. To embark upon a training contract at a firm offering ‘client contact from day one’, consider Berwin Leighton Paisner.
A day in the life of...
Adrian Kwok first-seat trainee, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP
Departments to date: Structured debt and capital markets
University:King’s College London
Degree:Hispanic Studies with English
8.45am: I usually get to the office early to check emails that have come in overnight and review my to-do list. I then head down to Alibi (the firm’s canteen) for breakfast with fellow trainees.
9.30am: I receive an email from a partner regarding an issuance of variable funding notes. I have been asked to update the documents list and prepare revised drafts of the transaction documents. I look through the briefing note, which is useful for learning about the transaction structure and what the transaction documents set out to achieve. I then work on the documents for the rest of the morning and sit down with the partner to discuss what I have prepared. This is a great learning experience as I am able to appreciate the subtle nuances of the transaction from her comments on the documents. After revising the drafts, the documents are ready for circulation to the client.
1.00pm: It is a sunny day today so I have made plans with trainees and associates in my department to go to Borough Food Market for lunch and coffee.
2.00pm: We have been instructed by a lender in a real estate financing project. As the project approaches completion, it is my responsibility to update the conditions precedent checklist on a daily basis so all parties are clear about the status of each item on the list. I will now join a partner on a call with the borrower’s legal counsel to negotiate provisions of the security documents and discuss outstanding items on the list. Afterwards, I review the notes I took during the call to discuss the next steps with the partner and draft an email to update the client.
4.30pm: I will be assisting a partner and an associate on several ISDA negotiations over the next few weeks, and the partner has arranged for me to take part in a training session. The training introduces the main provisions of the ISDA master agreement and the key negotiation areas when acting for hedge providers and other counterparties. It is great to have the chance to learn about such a technical and intricate area of law, and the training gives me good insight into the secondment opportunities to leading financial institutions that the firm offers to trainees.
6.15pm: After a busy day, I touch base with the associates and partners to update them on my progress and check whether there is anything else I can help with. After ensuring that all work for today has been completed, I return to my desk to quickly look through my emails and make a to-do list for tomorrow.
6.45pm: I send a message to a couple of friends I met on the LPC to see whether they are up for dinner and a few drinks tonight. They oblige and I set off for the Oyster Shed, a riverside bar within five minutes’ walk from the office that looks out across the Thames.
About the firm
Address:Adelaide House, London Bridge,, London EC4R 9HA
Telephone: 020 3400 1000
Fax:020 3400 1111
Facebook:Berwin Leighton Paisner Graduates
Managing partner : Lisa Mayhew
Other offices: Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Berlin, Brussels, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Manchester, Moscow, Paris, Singapore, Tel Aviv, Yangon.
Who we are: We support clients from 14 international offices. Our clients include 50 Global Fortune 500 or FTSE 100 companies.
What we do: We have particular strengths in real estate, corporate, finance and tax, and a strong litigation and dispute resolution capability.
What we are looking for: In addition to talented individuals with brilliant minds and bright attitudes, we are looking for people who can take complex, often pressurised, commercial situations in their stride. The sort of people our clients want on their side and will ask for by name.
What you'll do:When recruiting trainees, our focus is on quality rather than quantity. As a result, our trainees are rewarded with a high degree of responsibility and involvement, underpinned by an exceptional standard of training and support. BLP has always prided itself on providing the right environment for people to grow.
Perks: Generous flexible benefits package, season ticket loan, ride to work scheme.
Facts and figures
Trainee places available for 2019: 40-45
Applications received pa: Approx 2,500
Percentage interviewed: Approx 10%
First year: £40,000
Second year: £45,000
Newly qualified: £66,000
Total partners: 152
When to Apply:By 30 July 2017 for 2019 training contracts.
April (apply by 31 January 2017).
June to August (apply by 31 January 2017)
December (apply by 31 October 2016)