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? 
 '‘International reputation’; ‘stellar client list’; ‘life sciences department’; ‘high-quality work’; ‘down to earth culture’; ‘commitment to work/life balance’; ‘prestigious firm’; ‘collegiate atmosphere’; ‘I was impressed by what I saw whilst on the vacation scheme’; ‘friendly firm’; ‘fascinating work’; ‘the working environment seemed really positive’
Best thing about the firm? 
 '‘The variety of work available’; ‘the independence we get as trainees’; ‘having the opportunity to work with some of the most interesting and forward-looking businesses’; ‘welcoming environment’; ‘good rapport with colleagues’; ‘quality of work is great’; ‘exposure to senior lawyers’; ‘receiving client contact from the get-go’; ‘open-door policy’; ‘intakes are put in touch when we receive our offers so we have two years to build friendships’; ‘the freedom we get to find work we enjoy and want to focus on’
Worst thing about the firm? 
 '‘Poor work/life balance at times’; ‘extreme peaks and troughs in terms of workload’; ‘sometimes there’s very little work for me to do’; ‘partners sometimes have unrealistic expectations’; ‘lack of organisation’; ‘little flexibility regarding working arrangements’; ‘no communal lunch space’; ‘’some departments have been very quiet with little work. While it makes for a great work/life balance, it’s not the best training experience’; ‘the lack of structure can at times be unhelpful’
Best moment? 
 '‘Attending a hearing for a case I’d worked on for months and having the master hand down an order in our client’s favour’; ‘drafting a twenty-four page memo independently’; ‘having my work sent out with no amendments’; ‘being invited to client workshops’; ‘having the opportunity to meet high-profile lawyers’; ‘completing a matter after weeks of hard work’
Worst moment?
 '‘Feeling stressed while on the phone to a client’; ‘the days when I’ve had no work to do’; ‘having too much work to do’; ‘trying to manage various projects and feeling overwhelmed’; ‘being asked not to attend an important family occasion in case I was needed to work over the weekend’; ‘staying at my desk for lunch’; ‘having to cancel my evening plans to complete work’'

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

Leonard Hofstadter (The Big Bang Theory) – intelligent and charismatic

The verdict

The firm

US firm Covington & Burling is a global heavyweight. The firm’s broad industry experience includes life sciences, technology, financial services, media and communications, energy, branded goods and sport. Covington & Burling’s London office is highly regarded for its regulatory law (across multiple industries), corporate and commercial transactions, anti-corruption and compliance, dispute resolution, international employment and mobility, insurance, trade controls, intellectual property, real estate and tax capabilities.  

The star performers

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

  The verdict

At Covington & Burling, there’s a ‘culture of friendliness combined with extremely high-quality work’. ‘Intakes are put in touch when offers are sent out so as to build friendships’ which we’re sure quells some first-day nerves. The US firm’s ‘life sciences department’ and technology industry specialty were contributing factors in trainees’ decision to join Covington, as were the firm’s impressive clients who are ‘some of the most interesting and forward-looking businesses in the world’. Training is hands-on and recruits ‘learn by doing rather than through classroom training’. There is ‘more independence’ and trainees have the ‘freedom to find work that they enjoy and would like to focus on’. Supposedly, the trainee intake being relatively small means ‘the firm can accommodate individual requests more readily than other firms’, and trainees get ‘better exposure to senior lawyers’. However, there can be ‘extreme peaks and troughs in terms of workload’ as evidenced by one trainee working in a ‘quiet department with little work’, whilst others complained of ‘having to juggle too many matters at once’ and ‘having a poor work/life balance due to unrealistic partner expectations’. The ‘lack of structure and organisation’ at the firm was a concern for one respondent, whilst another disliked that there are ‘no on-site food options or space to have lunch that isn’t at our desks’. These gripes, however, are offset by moments such as when recruits were ‘invited to a client workshop and were able to liaise directly with GCs of well-known companies’, and also when they ‘did work for a senior partner and had their document sent out with no amendments’. If you want ‘early responsibility’ and a ‘collegiate atmosphere’, consider Covington & Burling.

 A day in the life of...

Daisy Cutler second-year trainee, Covington & Burling LLP 

Departments to date:  Dispute resolution, real estate and tax, employment and corporate (current seat)

University:University of York 
Degree:Law, 1st 

9.00am:  I check the emails that I have received overnight on my way to work, so that I know what to prioritise once I arrive at my desk. As a trainee in the corporate department, my priorities can very quickly change throughout the day, depending on the needs of each client and the status of various live deals.

9.15am:  I am asked by one of the partners to attend a client’s annual general meeting. I prepared the necessary documentation for the meeting a few weeks earlier, so it is great to see the meeting in action and to hear more about the client’s plans for the future. I take an attendance note, and send this to the client after the meeting.

11.30am:  Trainees are actively encouraged to get involved with pro-bono work. Over the past year, Covington has been working with Kids in Need of Defense UK, a charity that supports undocumented children and young people with their immigration status. I have spent several months assisting a child with the drafting and submission of a lengthy and complicated application to the Home Office for leave to remain in the UK. My supervisor and I receive a letter from the Home Office, confirming that our client’s application has been successful. We phone the client to tell them the good news, and I draft a follow-up letter to the client detailing next steps. This is definitely a highlight of my training contract!

12.30pm:  Our offices are next door to the Royal Courts of Justice, which means that the Inns of Court are only a short walk away. It is a beautiful day, so I head over to Middle Temple Gardens with a group of trainees to eat lunch outside.

1.30pm:  Covington has several firm-wide committees that organise events, including a social committee and an environment committee. I attend a diversity committee meeting, where we are in the process of organising an upcoming event relating to women in STEM industries.

2.30pm:  The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has kept a number of our clients (and lawyers!) very busy. Having reviewed several template commercial and employment agreements for one of our clients earlier in the week, I call the client to run through the amendments that I have made to the agreements to ensure that they are GDPR-compliant. At Covington, you are given the opportunity to work directly with clients from day one of your training contract, which is a fantastic learning experience.

3.00pm:  A partner explains that one of our listed clients is considering the ways in which it can return value to its shareholders. I am asked to draft a memo to the client, summarising the steps that it could take and the tax consequences of each for the company and its shareholders.

5.30pm:  Once a month, the corporate department meets to discuss the deals that the team have been working on over drinks. At each meeting, lawyers provide updates on recent developments to the law. I give a short presentation on the changes to the AIM rules for companies, highlighting the impact that these will have on our AIM-listed clients.

6.30pm:  Covington’s associate advisory committee (AAC) meets regularly to discuss issues of interest and concern to the firm’s associates. Trainees are welcome to attend all meetings and events, and as part of its social calendar, the AAC has organised a trip to The Crystal Maze LIVE Experience. I head off for a competitive evening with colleagues, followed by drinks.

About the firm

Address:265 Strand, London, WC2R 1BH

Telephone: 020 7067 2000


Managing partner:  Chris Walter

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

Who we are: Covington & Burling LLP is an international law firm founded in 1919. The firm has more than 1,000 lawyers with 13 offices worldwide.

What we do: What sets us apart is our ability to combine the tremendous strength in our litigation, investigations, and corporate practices with deep knowledge of policy and policymakers, and one of the world’s leading regulatory practices.

What we are looking for: The candidates we choose are sharp, articulate and quick-thinking in interview. They have confidence and composure, but also honesty and humour.

What you'll do:

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

Sponsorship:Successful applicants will receive payment of tuition fees for both the GDL and the LPC, and a maintenance grant of up to £8,000.


Facts and figures

Total partners: 34 (London)

Other fee-earners: 121 (London)

Total trainees: 15 (London)

Trainee places available for 2021: We offer up to 8 training contracts per year.


First year: £43,000

Second year: £47,000

Newly qualified: £100,000

 Application process

Apply to:The graduate recruitment team

How: Online application form.

What's involved:The interview process will consist of two rounds, with two partners or senior lawyers.

When to apply: 

Training contract 2021: By 17 July 2019.

Summer vacation scheme: By 18 January 2019.