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? 
 '‘The firm’s support of pro bono opportunities spanning multiple types of legal assistance’; ‘stellar international disputes practice’; ‘excellent vacation scheme experience’; ‘the quality of work’; ‘friendly staff’; ‘dedication to investing vast amounts of time and resources in their trainees’
Best thing about the firm? 
 '‘Excellent support staff’; ‘multiple opportunities for trainees to take a lead on certain work’; ‘business programme in the New York office’; ‘the quality of the work’; ‘technology allowance’; ‘frequent champagne tea parties for the whole office’; ‘clear focus to grow the highly-regarded litigation department’
Worst thing about the firm? 
 '‘The international secondment opportunities’; ‘view from the office isn’t great despite its central location’; ‘lack of social activities organised by the firm’; ‘the printers are hopeless’; ‘decisions are often made in the NY office so they don’t always make perfect sense for those working in the UK’
Best moment? 
 '‘Closing a pro bono transaction in which I had a prominent role’; ‘being given the responsibility to run a small deal myself’; ‘working on genuinely interesting transactions’; ‘being heavily involved in the hearing preparation for a high-profile, inspiring human rights matter’; ‘being able to use foreign language skills’; ‘being sent to New York for a three-week business education programme’
Worst moment?
 '‘Reorganising desk sets’; ‘cancelling a weekend’s worth of plans with visiting friends due to a closing being moved up’; ‘delaying holiday due to an extended deadline’; ‘running in the rain to file documents at court’; ‘document system temporarily losing the last six versions of an agreement’'

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

Jay Gatsby – a flash, ambitious American eager to impress, with honest motives

The Verdict

The firm

Debevoise & Plimpton’s London base opened in 1989, and is the firm’s second largest behind its New York headquarters. Strong performances in the funds and disputes space led to the London office posting a 20% revenue rise for 2015, breaking the $100m barrier. Debevoise opened an office in Tokyo in March 2016, its first global launch for 14 years. 

The star performers

Acquisition finance; Corporate crime (including fraud, bribery and corruption); Corporate tax; EU and competition; Emerging markets; Insurance: corporate and regulatory; International arbitration; M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+; Private equity: transactions: Large-cap deal capability; Private funds; Public international law.

The deals

Advised Clayton, Dubilier & Rice on £360m senior secured facilities to fund its acquisition of Motor Fuel Group; advised American Securities on the merger control aspects of its $855m acquisition of Blount International; advised TA Associates on its acquisition of a majority stake in Access Technology Group; advised Helios on its acquisition of Orange Group’s 70% stake in Telkom Kenya; defended the Republic of Korea in an arbitration involving share disposals in an oil company.

The clients

AIA Group; Access Industries; American International Group; The Carlyle Group; Deutsche Bank; Dover Corporation; HarbourVest Partners; Mitsui & Co; Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan; Triton Partners.

The Verdict

‘Internationally-renowned’ Debevoise & Plimpton is ‘dedicated to investing vast amounts of time and resources in their trainees’ and offers ‘good remuneration’. The ‘small trainee intake’ means recruits are immersed in ‘close-knit teams’ and receive ‘responsibility at an early stage’, leading to ‘great client contact’. The US firm has a ‘collegiate and friendly atmosphere’ where trainees are working alongside ‘exceptional lawyers’, and one of the best things is the ‘quality of supervisors and other lawyers’. Everyone is ‘very approachable and willing to spend time explaining complex aspects of deals or cases they are working on’. Trainees have the opportunity to ‘make a significant contribution’ and receive ‘complex and sophisticated work’. Nevertheless, it is clear that there are ‘high expectations’ of trainees. Best moments for newcomers include being ‘heavily involved in the hearing preparation for a high-profile, inspiring human rights matter’ and ‘being trusted to take charge of a due diligence report by myself, and coordinating the team’s contributions’. Trainees love the ‘frequent champagne tea parties for the whole office’ and the ‘business programme in the New York office’. Despite its ‘array of international offices’, a number of trainees report limited ‘international secondment opportunities’. The ‘excellent reputation’, especially in litigation and arbitration, precedes the firm and there is a ‘clear focus on growing the highly-regarded litigation department’. All told, the firm has won a very impressive seven Lex 100 Winner titles, including for job satisfaction and the vacation scheme. ‘Prestigious’ Debevoise & Plimpton is a great choice for trainees looking to get their hands on ‘world-class work’ in exchange for ‘high levels of responsibility’.

 A day in the life of...

Alice Hallewell trainee solicitor, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP 
Departments to date:  Corporate: insurance and financial institutions group; finance; Moscow finance and corporate
University:Balliol College, Oxford 

9.30am:  I am currently seconded to our Moscow office, sitting in the finance and corporate group. I walk to work and grab breakfast on my way in. Over breakfast I check through the emails that have come in overnight.

10.00am:  Just prior to arriving in Moscow, I attended the UnLtd legal advice clinic in London with a corporate associate. I drafted a letter of advice based on our meeting, which covers different legal forms that a social enterprise could take. Overnight I received comments from the corporate associate, so I do some research and amend my draft to cover the additional points he suggested.

12.30pm:  As I only recently arrived in Moscow, my supervisor and another associate take me out to lunch at a local restaurant to welcome me.

1.30pm:  Our client is acquiring the remaining interest in a joint venture that we previously helped set up. I have been assisting with due diligence on the acquisition. I discuss the results of my review of the documents with the associate I’m working with and he suggests that I prepare the first draft of the due diligence report summarising the issues we have found.

2.00pm:  After our meeting I start drafting the due diligence report, based on precedents and our discussion of the reviewed documents. The client wants a short-form report on any ‘red flags’ we have found, so I condense my notes and ensure there is no repetition.

4.00pm:  I co-ordinate with a Russian legal assistant who has been reviewing the Russian language documents for the due diligence exercise, and we agree the form in which she will summarise the issues that arose in the Russian documents so that I can incorporate her findings into the report.

5.00pm:  We have a call with the client to discuss a few outstanding matters in relation to the acquisition before a call with the other side to negotiate these points. The call brings to light different interpretations of the underlying joint venture documentation. Both sides decide to discuss further with their respective clients before coming to an agreement. I take detailed notes of what is discussed in the call. After the call we review the action points that arose and agree to discuss them further in the morning.

6.30pm:  I return to my office and have received final comments from the corporate associate in London on my pro bono advice letter. I proofread and finalise the letter before sending it out to the client.

7.30pm:  As there is nothing else urgent for today, I head out for dinner with trainees from other firms who are also on secondment to Moscow.

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:One of our basic principles is that 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, life assurance, group income protection, pension, computer allowance, cycle scheme, interest-free season ticket loan and subsidised on-site café.

Sponsorship:Full tuition fees are paid for the GDL and LPC, together with a maintenance grant of £8,000 per year.


Facts and figures

Trainee places available for 2019: 8

Applications received pa: 400+ 

Percentage interviewed: 10% 


First year: £50,000

Second year: £55,000

Newly qualified: £113,200

Total partners: 18

Other fee-earners:90

Total trainees:15

 Application process


How: Online application form available on our website from 1 May 2017.

When to Apply:By 31 July 2017 for September 2019.

 Vacation schemes

June-August 2017 (apply between 1 December 2016-15 January 2017).