Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

Address: 65 Gresham Street, London, EC2V 7NQ




Survey results


The lowdown (in their own words...)

Why did you choose this firm over any others? 
 '‘Stellar reputation’; ‘the remuneration is the best in the City’; ‘opportunity to gain responsibility early on’; ‘big deals’; ‘fast paced’; ‘you get to work on a range of high-value international transactions’; ‘calibre of work is unparalleled’; ‘flexible training opportunities – you aren’t stopped from getting work from a variety of departments’; ‘collegiate environment’; ‘opportunity to learn from extremely knowledgeable and experienced individuals’
Best thing about the firm? 
 '‘How laid back everyone is’; ‘comfortable environment’; ‘inclusive teams’; ‘friendly colleagues’; ‘calibre of work’; ‘the people are amazing’; ‘strong reputation’; ‘its small size meaning there’s more great work to go around’; ‘no face-time culture’; ‘good supervision’
Worst thing about the firm? 
 '‘The IT systems are slow and complicated’; ‘limited secondment opportunities’; ‘the lack of formal training for trainees’; ‘demanding hours’; ‘the work/life balance isn’t the best’; ‘lack of social activities’; ‘lunchtime training sandwiches’; ‘the printers are a lost cause’; ‘communication between teams could be improved’; ‘the long hours!’; ‘we don’t get that many opportunities to work abroad’
Best moment? 
 '‘Going to Paris to work on the final stages of a bond issue’; ‘working on some genuinely interesting huge deals’; ‘helping a large client get a pitch in for a deal when it had an extremely tight turn around’; ‘a pro bono client succeeding at his hearing’; ‘watching Lord Goldsmith work at a hearing’; ‘going to New York’; ‘getting praised by a partner following successful completion of a matter’; ‘being told that I was making great progress when I thought I was a hopeless trainee!’
Worst moment?
 '‘Having to tick off the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s requirements’; ‘late nights’; ‘trying to figure out how to duplicate pages on PDF’; ‘forwarding a chain of emails to the wrong group of people’; ‘stressful days’; ‘making mistakes’; ‘having to bail on plans’; ‘not understanding things at the beginning of the traineeship’; ‘having to deal with the awful printers’'

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

Mike Ross (Suits) – brilliant at what he does and committed to pro bono work

The verdict

The firm

Debevoise & Plimpton is a leading US law firm with market-leading practices, a global perspective and strong New York roots. The firm’s London office is the second largest behind its New York headquarters and boasts market-leading M&A, private equity, funds and litigation practices. The firm’s team of lawyers work across three continents, within integrated global practices, serving clients around the world.  

The star performers

Acquisition finance; Commercial litigation; Corporate tax; Emerging markets; EU and competition; Insurance: corporate and regulatory; International arbitration; M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+; Private equity: transactions – high-value deals; Private funds; Public international law; Real estate funds; Regulatory investigations and corporate crime

The deals

Advised International Paper Company on the financing aspects of its $1.8bn combination of its North America Consumer Packaging business with Graphic Packaging; assisted Helios Investment Partners with setting up a pan-African joint venture with GBfoods; advised Clayton, Dubilier & Rice on the €3bn acquisition of a 40% interest in the Belron Group from D’Ieteren; acted for Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec in its investment in Datamars; represented The Nova Group Investments in an ICSID claim against the Romanian Government under the Netherlands-Romania BIT, which involved the purported expropriation of its Romanian assets and breaches of their BIT protections; advised Clayton, Dubilier & Rice on the formation of a new $100bn fund

The clients

Adveq; AmTrust Financial Services; Bregal Freshstream; Clayton, Dubilier & Rice; Dynamic Technologies; Helios Investment Partners; Metric Capital Partners; Park Square Capital; Precision Medicine Group; Temporis Capital

The verdict

Debevoise & Plimpton is a Lex 100 Winner for salary, but trainees at the firm get a whole lot more than just a hefty pay cheque. The chance to work on ‘high-value international transactions that are interesting, diverse and fast-paced’ is an additional bonus to training at the firm. Debevoise & Plimpton boasts ‘strong disputes and funds practices’ and new recruits ‘get fully involved in deals from day one’. At the firm ‘everyone is at the top of their game’ and trainees say ‘it’s great to be surrounded by such individuals’. Moreover, new recruits praise the firm’s staff who are ‘friendly and approachable’ – ‘there is an open-door policy so it never feels intimidating to approach senior colleagues’. Working hours at D&P can be long, but we’re told ‘everyone pulls together when the office is busy in order to get the work done’. Trainees groaned about the IT systems which are ‘slow and complicated’ – the printers, for example, are said to be ‘a lost cause’. However, instances when trainees were ‘sent to New York to do a mini MBA with Columbia University’ or ‘travelled to Paris to work on the final stages of a bond issue’ likely made up for having to use ‘technology that’s a bit behind’. Respondents spoke of the ‘huge culture of pro bono’ at the firm, some of which is ‘offered on an international scale’. It’s ‘easy to get involved’ and the work is ‘incredibly high-quality’. To be part of a trainee intake at a firm ‘small enough for trainees to make a lasting impression’, apply to Debevoise & Plimpton.

 A day in the life of...

blaise matthews

Blaise Matthews trainee solicitor, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP 

Departments to date:  Corporate M&A, white-collar crime and investigations, international dispute resolution, antitrust and competition

University:University College London 

9.30am:  Arriving at the office, I grab a coffee and check what emails have come in overnight.

9.45am:  My supervisor and I have our daily run through of tasks and priorities and catch up on any news from over the weekend.

10.15am:  As nothing on our matters is too pressing this morning, I turn to a pro bono case I’m working on with a colleague from my previous arbitration seat. The case concerns a constitutional challenge in a jurisdiction where homosexuality is illegal. I summarise some recent case law and feed some drafting comments into a client memo. I then phone the senior associate on the case and discuss next steps.

11.50am:  A partner in my department invites me to a client pitch meeting being held later in the week and asks if I can pull together a briefing pack on the potential client. I research the company and produce a corporate and litigation portfolio. I also run internal conflicts checks and summarise any recent news items.

1.00pm:  I go out for lunch with the rest of my trainee intake. Eight trainees per year is enough to not feel isolated but small enough to mean a close-knit group. Our number is currently pretty depleted due to trainees being on secondment to the Hong Kong and Moscow offices, and others attending the annual business education course in New York.

1.50pm:  I prepare for our global division conference call in which associates and partners report from each office on the progress of cases and deals. Antitrust and competition is an area where matters can be both transactional and litigious, which makes for a varied and interesting call. I provide a briefing on a recent ECJ decision which is relevant for merger control. I update our internal tracker documents which show the progress of our global filings.

3.00pm:  I attend a meeting as a member of the London diversity committee at which we discuss affinity networks and upcoming inclusion training. I have conversations afterwards with members of our HR team about an upcoming recruitment event.

3.35pm:  I return to my desk and progress some work on our team’s current main deal. We are making regulatory filings in the EU, US and 15 other jurisdictions. I draft some instructions for local counsel in Tanzania and review a packet of board documents for legal privilege. Like most deals and cases at the firm, I am the sole designated trainee on this matter – although daunting at times it means early responsibility and substantive, interesting tasks.

4.20pm:  In September I will be qualifying into the firm’s litigation department and so I attend some witness interviews on the case I’ll be working on as an associate.

5.40pm:  As my current team produce a note on restraints of trade for Practical Law, I review some recent European Commission decisions and update the note accordingly.

6.30pm:  I take a call from a colleague in the New York office who I previously worked with extensively during my white-collar seat. We discuss plans for her upcoming visit to London and catch up on office news.

7.00pm:  I set up a meeting with the trainee due to be taking over from me and produce a handover note. Since there is nothing else urgent for today, we both log our time entries and leave the office.

7.40pm:  I head to the firm alumni summer party, after which I go out for drinks with fellow trainees and some junior associates.

About the firm

Address:65 Gresham Street, London, EC2V 7NQ

Telephone: 020 7786 9000

Fax:020 7588 4180

Managing partner:  Lord Goldsmith QC

Managing partner:  Richard Ward

Other offices: New York, Washington DC, Paris, Frankfurt, Moscow, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo 

Who we are: Debevoise is a leading international law firm. The London office works on many of the highest profile and most complex transactions in Europe and worldwide. We do this by virtue of our English and New York law expertise and our close integration with our other offices.

What we do: In developing our practice in London we have sought to replicate the core strengths of our practice worldwide. Our focus is on private equity, insurance, international disputes and investigations, financial institutions, M&A, finance, capital markets and tax.

What we are looking for: Students whose personal qualities, academic record and other achievements demonstrate exceptional ability, motivation and potential. Applicants will make a significant contribution to our firm and thrive in our unique culture. We look for an ability to listen actively, think creatively and interact successfully. We also look for maturity and leadership qualities.

What you'll do:Each of our associates should become a ‘well-rounded’ lawyer – an effective counsellor, adviser and advocate – who can combine legal knowledge with the ability to deal with a range of situations. Trainees develop their skills through formal training and on-the-job experience. The two years are split into four six-month seats with an opportunity to gain experience in at least three distinct areas.

Perks: Bonus, private medical and dental insurance, private GP, life assurance, income protection, pension, computer allowance, cycle scheme and subsidised on-site café.

Sponsorship:Full tuition fees are paid for the GDL and LPC, together with a maintenance grant of £9,000 per year.


Facts and figures

Total partners: 21

Other fee-earners: 100

Total trainees: 16

Trainee places available for 2021: 8

Applications received pa: 400+ 

Percentage interviewed: 7% 


First year: £50,000

Second year: £55,000

Newly qualified: £126,700

 Application process


How: Online application form can be found at from 1 May 2019

What's involved:Interviews with assessment. Attendance on our Easter or summer vacation scheme is preferred but not essential.

When to apply: 

Training contract 2021: By 14 July 2019.

Spring vacation scheme: By 16 December 2018. 

Summer vacation scheme: By 16 December 2018.