The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Global firm Dentons continues to expand, its most recent venture a merger with Scottish firm Maclay Murray & Spens. The firm serves the local, regional and global needs of private and public clients.
The star performers
Aviation; Banking litigation: investment and retail; Commercial contracts; Commercial property; Construction; Debt capital markets; Emerging markets; Environment; Fintech; Immigration; IT and telecoms; Local government; Oil and gas; Planning; Power (including electricity and renewables); Private equity: transactions – mid-market deals; Professional negligence; Property litigation; Rail; Trade finance
Advising KKR on its proposed circa €6.8bn acquisition of Unilever’s spreads business; advised John Lewis Partnership on its commercial joint venture with Clipper Logistics for a click-and-collect service for customers; acted for RBS in a high-profile derivatives mis-selling case; represented TUI UK on its acquisition of a 915-cabin cruise ship Legend of the Seas from Royal Caribbean Cruises; acted for a London investment bank in relation to a $5m shari’ah-compliant loan granted by a Qatari investment bank
BNP Paribas; Emirates; Lions Gate Entertainment; National Grid; Network Rail; Pertamina; RBS; Sainsbury’s; Topland Group; Virgin Atlantic
With ‘strong banking and finance practices’, Dentons is a fantastic choice for those with a particular interest in these areas. ‘A real trailblazer and game-changer in the market’, the firm continues to ‘expand across the world’ – its most recent venture being a merger with Maclay Murray & Spens which saw the firm establish a Scottish presence. The ‘exceptional banking and finance training’ pleased trainees who found it ‘very thorough and useful’. Likewise, ‘the litigation department offers training once a week given by associates’. The ‘high-end work’ and ‘commendable level of client contact and independence allowed for trainees’ makes the training contract at Dentons fulfilling. ‘Being given the responsibility to orchestrate a large transaction with eight jurisdictions’ and ‘seeing something you’ve worked on on the front page of BBC News’ were trainee highlights. Conversely, ‘working until 3am’ and dealing with the ‘unpredictable elements of the job’ were what trainees found ‘particularly challenging’. Occasional ‘passive aggressive comments or unconstructive criticism from superiors’ made recruits ‘feel a bit rubbish’, and the ‘limited range of international secondments is disappointing considering the international scope of the firm’. Though trainees commended the firm’s ‘welcoming and inclusive’ nature, one respondent observed that ‘there’s no universal culture – every department is like a different business’. The seat rotation process caused frustration as the procedure can be ‘chaotic’. Nevertheless, that ‘senior associates and partners invest a lot of time in training and pay a lot of attention to our personal career goals’ makes dealing with such issues bearable. To engage in ‘challenging work’ and be ‘closer to the deal’, apply to train at Dentons.
Who we are: Dentons is the world’s largest law firm, delivering quality and value to clients around the globe. Dentons is a leader on the Acritas Global Elite Brand Index, a BTI Client Service 30 Award winner and recognised by prominent business and legal publications for its innovations in client service, including founding Nextlaw Labs and the Nextlaw Global Referral Network. Dentons’ polycentric approach and world-class talent challenge the status quo to advance client interests in the communities in which we live and work.
Dentons is a truly ‘polycentric’ international law firm that fully embraces the diversity of its geography, cultures and legal traditions. The firm has no headquarters, no dominant national culture, and proudly offers clients talent from diverse backgrounds and countries.
Training: As part of Dentons, you’ll be given all the responsibility you can handle. You’ll learn on the job by taking a real part in running deals and cases, meeting with real clients and taking your place in the fast-paced and increasingly global world of business. After all, it’s this type of experience that makes great lawyers and prepares you for the daily pressures of your professional career. At Dentons, you’ll get it almost from day one.
If commercial law is your ambition, beginning your career with us will help you fulfil it. You’ll be welcomed into a team globally renowned for its expertise. We’ll help you develop your skills and knowledge in an open and supportive environment.
London: A training contract in our City office in London will place you at the centre of one of the world’s leading legal practices. In your first two years, you’ll spend six-month seats in four of our practice areas. Along with a seat in our banking and finance practice and a contentious seat (or an external litigation course), you may also have the opportunity to work in one of our international offices, or to work directly with one of our clients within their team and office.
Milton Keynes and Watford: Our Milton Keynes and Watford training contract will see you rotate between these two offices where we are able to provide a City-level out-of-town legal service to many household name clients.
Our practice areas across the Milton Keynes and Watford training contract include corporate, dispute resolution, real estate, property litigation, financial litigation, construction and employment, and you’ll spend six-month seats in four of them. You must complete one non-contentious transactional seat (eg, corporate or real estate) and one contentious seat.
Vacation placements: We offer two-week vacation schemes in London during the Easter and Summer vacations and in Milton Keynes and Watford during the Summer vacation. These placements consist of business games, department visits and social events, giving potential trainees an insight into commercial law and our way of life at Dentons.
Social activities: You’ll have plenty of time to socialise with your peers in activities organised by our trainee representatives. It’s not just our trainees who like to have fun, though. We believe social activities are vital to the happiness of our team, and they’re an important part of our firm’s culture.
You can participate in over 20 sports teams, including football, rugby, hockey and cricket. Or, if you prefer something less competitive, we offer aerobics, yoga and a choir. Our busy social committee organises firm-wide events like quiz nights, sponsored walks and drinks evenings, with all proceeds going to our nominated charity of the year.
Vacation scheme insider
Emma HolderUniversity: University of Warwick, London School of Economics and Political Science
I studied French and Spanish at the University of Warwick before undertaking a Master’s degree in International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. My interest in a career in law stemmed from my interest in the world and a desire to be part of a career connected to global trends and that is constantly evolving.
Why I applied for a vacation scheme at Dentons
I knew that I wanted to work for an international firm, but I also knew that many firms with international offices do not always have the opportunities for international, multi-jurisdictional work. Dentons, with its huge size and polycentric structure, spoke to me as a place where I would have the chance to embrace the tendency towards globalisation and have the chance to work with people from different backgrounds and cultures on an unprecedented scale. I believe that the firm is unique in this area and their global growth mind-set resonated with what I hoped to find in a future career. Furthermore, given the size of the firm, I was drawn to the chance to gain a wide range of experience in different practice areas. I felt like this level of diversity was very important for a future trainee, open-minded about which area of law interests them most.
Type of work undertaken
I was very nervous about the 'work' aspect of the vacation scheme, coming from a non-law background with no legal work experience; however, I found both my supervisors incredibly supportive and helpful. I was set legal research tasks, proofreading and basic drafting tasks but both supervisors took the time to put the work I was helping with into context of the deal that was being done and gave me feedback which was very helpful. As part of the vacation scheme we all took part in a group project and presentation alongside our seat allocations and this was both challenging and insightful as it was centred around researching into one of the firm’s clients. On presentation day, we were all made to feel supported by the audience and it was a great experience to have gone through as a group.
Departments sat in
During my vacation scheme, I spent my first 'seat' in the banking and finance team and my second 'seat' with real estate. The firm also set up talks from each department to give us an insight into each one even if we did not have the chance to work with them first-hand.
Highlights of the vac scheme
I really enjoyed the whole two weeks, even when it was challenging, but the highlights were definitely the social events as we really got a chance to feel like we were part of the firm and to hear from a large number of representatives, and to have some fun! Although the moments before the group presentation we were tasked with were nerve-wracking, I did enjoy the process of learning more about client relationships within the firm, and getting to know my fellow vacation scheme students more. All three groups were very encouraging of each other during the presenting process and this was also a highlight as I believe it reflected on the generally welcoming and collegiate nature of the firm. On the last day, after the assessment centre, I returned to my two supervisors, who had both been interested to know how the final interviews had gone. On entering one of the supervisor’s office, two more employees came in to also ask how it had gone and to wish me luck, and to leave my vacation scheme with this moment was certainly a highlight as it really demonstrated the level of supportiveness among employees at the firm.
Culture of the firm
Every employee that I came into contact with was incredibly friendly and down to earth, willing to answer any question I had. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience and found that even when I was given a piece of work that I was unsure of, there was always someone there who I could ask for extra help. All the current trainees were incredibly friendly and really enthusiastic about our experience with the firm. I particularly enjoyed coming down to the canteen at lunch times and seeing the trainees sat together as I feel like it reflected on the kind of experience future trainees will have. In fact, every time I came into contact with a trainee, whether on my floor during the day or in the corridor, they would immediately ask how everything was going and offer me any advice I needed at the time. Even as the 'world’s largest law firm' Dentons has a culture which makes you feel like a person, not a number, and every employee I had the chance to get to know was engaging and interested in my personal experience.
Social and networking events
The networking events which took place during the scheme were excellent. We had the chance to meet trainees, associates and partners on one evening in a more formal setting and then had an opportunity to socialise with current trainees and HR out of the office another evening. Both events were perfect for welcoming us to the firm and giving us the chance to ask a range of questions. I was particularly enthused by how many trainees came along to our social with HR as they were all clearly happy to speak about their experience of the firm, get to know us, and welcome us to the firm.
About the firm
Address:1 Fleet Place, London, EC4M 7WS
Telephone: 020 7242 1212
Fax:020 7246 7777
Chief executive: Elliot Portnoy
Other offices: Please visit www.dentons.com/global-presence for a full list of offices.
What we do: We offer an international legal practice focused on quality in sectors such as: energy, transport and infrastructure, financial institutions and funds, government, insurance, manufacturing, real estate, retail and hotels, and TMT.
What we are looking for: There’s no typical candidate for our training contract programme. The expertise within our firm is as diverse as the needs of our global clients. We look for people with a wide range of skills, aptitudes and personalities, with the potential to contribute to our growing success. Being a team player is important, as is having the drive and ambition to succeed in a highly demanding work environment.
What you'll do:You’ll learn on the job by running parts of real cases, meeting with real clients and taking your place in the fast-paced and increasingly global world of business. We offer four six-month seats, which may include a seat in one of our international offices or with one of our clients. You will be given responsibility early on, working with your team and clients in real business situations.
Perks: Subsidised gym membership, season ticket loan, pension scheme and private medical insurance.
Sponsorship:GDL/LPC fees during actual years of study; study maintenance grants of £5,000 per year of study (£6,000 in London).
Facts and figures
Total partners: 178
Other fee-earners: 318
Total trainees: 95
Trainee places available for 2021: 30
Applications received pa: 2,000
Percentage interviewed: 20%
First year: £42,000 (London)/£30,000 (Milton Keynes/Watford)
Second year: £46,000 (London)/£32,500 (Milton Keynes/Watford)
Newly qualified: £75,000 (London)/£46,000 (Milton Keynes/Watford)
Apply to:Graduate recruitment.
When to apply:By 31 March 2019 for non-law applicants; by 31 July 2019 for law.
What's involved:Online application form, a critical thinking exercise, first interview with human resources, followed by an assessment centre.
Spring:London (apply by 4 January 2019).
Summer:London, Milton Keynes and Watford (apply by 4 January 2019).