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? 
 ''The firm is an incredibly inclusive and friendly place to work' 'strong focus on diversity' 'unique atmosphere' 'lives up to its claim of being friendly and collegiate' 'intellectual reputation' 'I completed a vacation scheme at the firm' 'the size of the trainee intake' 'high-quality work' 'international firm'
Best thing about the firm? 
 ''Very open culture' 'working with highly intelligent individuals' 'the intellectual culture' 'the variety of work available' 'strong regulatory practice' 'trainees are given a lot of responsibility early on' 'I have very quickly built strong friendships and a strong support network' 'very interesting work' 'the policy angle' 'a lot of responsibility early on'
Worst thing about the firm? 
 ''The promotion to partnership seems long/opaque' 'lack of technology and efficient methods of working' 'unpredictable hours' 'communication could be improved' 'no formal training' 'experiences in different departments can be extremely variable' 'the hours can affect work/life balance' 'small intake sometimes means that there is very little flexibility in seat allocations' 'lack of support staff'
Best moment? 
 ''Taking on an employment tribunal claim' 'going on a placement to a global technology company' 'emailing clients my advice directly; 'attending a client briefing meeting and drafting a letter before claim based on that information' 'client secondment - I gained really valuable legal skills, interacted with clients on a daily basis and learnt a lot about the client's business'
Worst moment?
 ''Working long hours with people who have very different work and communication styles' 'sometimes a lot of admin work' 'working on a leanly-staffed but complex deal where the trainee role was poorly defined' 'stressful late night closings' 'the work can be overwhelming sometimes' 'working over a weekend' 'weeks of late night/early morning finishes and quite a few stressful moments''

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

Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory) - very smart and a bit nerdy but has its heart in the right place

The Verdict

The firm

US firm Covington & Burling has 12 offices worldwide and commands an enviable reputation. In London, the firm has over 100 fee earners who combine their regulatory, corporate, and litigation strengths with deep industry knowledge and advise clients on cutting-edge legal, technical, and compliance matters. The firm'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. Covington & Burling's broad industry experience includes life sciences, technology, financial services, media and communications, energy, branded goods and sport. 

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

'High-quality, cutting-edge work' in 'unique areas of law' such as life sciences, sets Covington & Burling apart. Trainees love the 'intellectual culture' of the firm and relish working alongside 'very smart and driven lawyers' who are 'interested in and passionate about their work'. Similarly, the work given to trainees is 'complex' and recruits are grateful not to be burdened with too much 'boilerplate work'. The 'small intake' and 'wide practice groups' allow trainees to have a 'more hands-on role' and 'a lot of responsibility early on'. Moreover, there is a 'strong focus on diversity' and a 'non-hierarchical structure' which makes for an 'inclusive environment'. Although the training is perceived by some as 'less formal' and 'lacking in structure', on the plus side 'the work and supervision are both very good'. There are some 'management communication issues' which can frustrate trainees and 'the hours can be unpredictable' which 'can affect work/life balance'. However, on a positive note, Covington is a Lex 100 Winner for its salary. Best moments include 'advising a high-profile client on cutting-edge developments in their industry', 'being given the first run at drafting documents for a billion dollar acquisition' and 'drafting a defence and witness statement myself'. Indeed, one trainee went so far as to say that 'every project is interesting', which demonstrates the quality of work and the level of involvement enjoyed by trainees at the firm. 'Going on client secondment' was another highlight because it was 'hugely helpful for commercial awareness'. All in all, it is clear that trainees can expect to have a 'fantastic experience'. To get exposure to 'incredible cases' in a 'very interpersonal and friendly' firm which has a 'world-class reputation', consider 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

Total partners: 275

Other fee-earners: 690

Total trainees: 15

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

Training contracts available for 2020: up to 7

Applications received pa: 400 

Percentage interviewed: 10% 


First year: £43,000

Second year: £47,000

Newly qualified: £85,000

 Application process


How: Online via website.

When to Apply:

Training Contracts beginning in 2020: By 17 July 2018. 

Summer Vacation Scheme: By 31 January 2018.