Covington & Burling LLP

Covington & Burling LLP

Address: 265 Strand, London, WC2R 1BH




Survey results


The lowdown (in their own words...)

Why did you choose this firm over any others? 
 '‘Greater balance and variety within the training contract’; ‘I really enjoyed the vacation scheme’; ‘I felt that at Covington I would be able to receive the best possible training’; ‘the excellent arbitration practice’; ‘the small intake’; ‘inclusive environment’; ‘the international nature of the work’
Best thing about the firm? 
 '‘Extremely high-quality standards expected’; ‘excellent work environment’; ‘the highly intelligent colleagues’; ‘the interesting, high-profile matters the firm regularly advises on’; ‘the collegiality’; ‘unique personalities’; ‘the people’; ‘the diversity’; ‘getting to understand how a deal works from start to finish’
Worst thing about the firm? 
 '‘Possibly opaque at times’; ‘unstructured training compared with other firms’; ‘no food facilities’; ‘no gym scheme’; ‘the workload can be unpredictable at times’; ‘the lack of communication’
Best moment? 
 '‘Having the opportunity to do substantive work on a high-profile case’; ‘hearing excellent feedback about my contribution’; ‘taking the lead on a multi-million pound restructuring for one of our clients’; ‘working independently on a matter from start to finish early on in the training contract’; ‘doing a very difficult, complex piece of research’; ‘preparing for a closing meeting’
Worst moment?
 '‘Receiving the mark-up of my first written piece of work’; ‘a long night in the office followed by a very early start the next day’; ‘I got stuck in the office by myself one night as my supervisor had gone home. A crisis with a client arose and I had to deal with it on my own’'

If the firm were a fictional character it would be...

Rory Gilmore (Gilmore Girls) – very clever but down-to-earth, and has a serious coffee addiction

The Verdict

The firm

US firm Covington & Burling has firmly established its market presence since setting up in London in 1988. The firm commands an enviable reputation for its work in the insurance and life sciences sectors. Covington is also well-respected for its broad TMT coverage, including data protection, IT, media and sport, and for offering corporate advice on matters pertaining to investment funds, flotations and venture capital. 

The star performers

Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Corporate crime (including fraud, bribery and corruption); Data protection; EU and competition: Trade, WTO, anti-dumping and customs; Employment: employers; Equity capital markets; Financial services (non-contentious/regulatory); Flotations: small and mid-cap; IT and telecoms; Insurance litigation: for policyholders; International arbitration; M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+; Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology; Private funds; Product liability: defendant; Sport; Venture capital.

The deals

Advised Indivior on the UK and US employment elements of its demerger from Reckitt Benckiser; advised Californian biotech company Verseon Corporation on the US law aspects of its £66m IPO; acted for Allergy Therapeutics on a £20m placing; assisted AstraZeneca with its $575m purchase of Takeda’s respiratory medicines business; acted for FilmFlex Movies in a software contract dispute.

The clients

Consort Medical; Coty; Holland & Barrett; Howden Group; Imperial Innovations; Johnson & Johnson Limited; Microsoft; Monster Energy; National Grid; Sanofi.

The Verdict

Covington & Burling is singled out for its ‘niche specialisms’ in life sciences and insurance. The US-headquartered firm has a ‘small intake’ of recruits but this means there are ‘great chances for early-on responsibilities’ and ‘client contact’. Trainees are given ‘excellent support from the team’ and receive ‘feedback from senior associates and partners’. Colleagues are ‘approachable and supportive rather than intimidating’. Best moments for trainees include ‘taking the lead on a multi-million pound restructuring for one of the clients’, ‘working independently from early on in the training contract’ and ‘supervisors complimenting good work’. Trainees have found the ‘workload can be unpredictable at times’ with an unbalanced ‘distribution of work – some people are very busy while others have nothing to do’. Trainees have attributed this to a ‘lack of communication’. ‘Long late nights and stress’ can happen but newcomers report they feel ‘always extremely well supported’ by other team members. The ‘excellent working environment’ gives trainees an ‘invaluable experience’ and ‘healthy work/life balance’. Five Lex 100 Winner gongs have been secured, including in the diversity and remuneration satisfaction categories. The firm ‘regularly advises on high-profile matters’, offering lots of opportunities for trainees if they are ‘willing to put the time in’. ‘Pro bono is encouraged’, plus ‘meaningful and interesting projects’ give newcomers the opportunity to develop their ‘drafting skills and further their understanding of various legal areas’. Trainees like the ‘unique personalities and diverse working environment’, so those who are looking for a challenge in a ‘friendly and inclusive environment’ should consider applying to Covington & Burling.

 A day in the life of...

Ramon Luque second-year trainee, Covington & Burling LLP 
Departments to date:  Corporate; dispute resolution; client secondment; life sciences (current seat)
University:University of Warwick 
Degree:Philosophy, 1st 

9.00am:  Having scanned through my emails on the way to the office, I arrive with a rough plan for the day ahead, knowing that this may well change as matters develop throughout the day.

9.30am:  I catch up with my supervisor, who mentions that our client has requested a call later today to update them on the due diligence we have been conducting on a business they plan to acquire. Covington trainees typically share an office with their supervisor, and as with my previous supervisors, the relationship is informal and relaxed.

9.45am:  I head downstairs with my colleagues for our weekly catch-up meeting with the Brussels team by videoconference. The food and drug regulatory practice advises life sciences clients on the full range of regulatory, transactional and contentious matters that affect their operations. The meeting gives us time to update each other on our matters and to discuss any points of interest.

10.15am:  I return to my desk and finalise an agreement that I have been drafting over the last several days concerning the sale of a pharmaceutical product. The regulatory aspects of the deal are complex and challenging, which makes it rewarding. Having spent six months on secondment at a multinational pharmaceutical company, my current seat has given me the opportunity to consolidate my experience in this area.

12.30pm:  Having sent the agreement to my supervisor for his review, I make the short trip to Covent Garden for lunch with some of the trainees.

1.30pm:  A partner briefs me on a new matter for a client who is developing a diagnostic medical device for the detection of certain types of cancer. He asks me to draft a note for the client to explain the regulatory and legal implications surrounding this innovative product. We briefly discuss the contents of the note, I research any outstanding issues, and draft an outline. I then pause at around 3.45pm to prepare for the upcoming call.

4.00pm:  My supervisor and I attend the call with our US-based client. The due diligence exercise has lasted around a month and we are reaching the final stages. We update the client with any material findings that could affect their decision to purchase the company. Our client is happy to proceed, and we agree to send them a final report of our findings by the end of the week. I have a record of our findings to date, but make a note to consolidate these into the final report tomorrow to ensure that my supervisor has enough time to review it.

4.30pm:  Each month, I compile a summary of news items that may be of interest to our clients in the life sciences sector. It is a good way of keeping up to date with the latest developments. I spend some time searching for items of interest and begin to write these up.

7.00pm:  Covington’s associate advisory committee (AAC) meets regularly to discuss issues of interest and concern to the firm’s associates. Trainees are welcome to all events, and as part of its social calendar, the AAC has organised a go-karting trip for this evening. I head off to the track with my colleagues for an evening of high-octane fun.

About the firm

Address:265 Strand, London, WC2R 1BH

Telephone: 020 7067 2000

Managing partner : Chris Walter

Other offices: Beijing, Brussels, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, Silicon Valley and Washington DC. 

Who we are: Covington & Burling LLP was founded in Washington DC nearly a century ago. Today, the firm has over 900 lawyers globally. Covington’s London office, overlooking the Royal Courts of Justice, was established over 25 years ago. Covington has been rated a Top Ranked Leading Law Firm in Chambers UK 2016 and appears in The Lawyer Top 30 International Law Firm, as well as Legal Business Global 100 surveys.

What we do: At Covington, you will have an opportunity to work on cutting-edge deals for international and UK corporates such as Microsoft, Astra Zeneca and Facebook, Fortune 100 businesses and leading technology, life sciences and media companies. We offer services across a wide range of practice areas, advising clients on their most challenging and complex matters. Most of the work has an international element, and all our practice groups operate across borders.

What we are looking for: We are looking for consistently high academic results (on target for a 2:1 degree or above and with strong A level results), commercial awareness, strong interpersonal skills and ability to work well in a team.

What you'll do:You will do four six-month seats, rotating between departments. All trainees will undertake a seat in corporate and a seat in dispute resolution. We can offer optional seats in the following areas: employment, life sciences and technology and media. Client secondments may also be available.

Perks: Benefits include life assurance, pension, private healthcare and season ticket loan.

Sponsorship:Successful training contract applicants will receive payment of tuition fees for both the GDL and the LPC, as well as a maintenance grant of up to £8,000. We do not pay fees retrospectively for completed courses.


Facts and figures

Trainee places available for 2019: up to 7

Applications received pa: 400 

Percentage interviewed: 10% 


First year: £43,000

Second year: £47,000

Newly qualified: £85,000

Total partners: 275

Other fee-earners:690

Total trainees:11

 Application process

Apply to:Alexandra Reddington.

How: Online application form.

When to Apply:By 17 July 2017 for 2019 contracts.

 Vacation schemes

June/July 2017. Apply by 31 January 2017.