If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
‘Top-quality work’ is on offer at Sidley Austin, which also boasts a ‘varied choice of seats’ in comparison with some other US firms. Whilst the firm is ‘growing in size and momentum in London’, it also has an ‘international presence’, both of which impressed trainees. Recruits praised the ‘high levels of pay’ which has earned the US outfit a Lex 100 Winner medal and is continuously motivating newbies to work hard. The training can be ‘less structured’ at times and is ‘more peer led’. But, for the avoidance of doubt, the ‘workload is properly managed and partners and associates are very approachable and keen on your learning’. Elaborating on supervisor approachability, trainees described ‘good access to senior lawyers’ at the firm and a ‘real open-door policy’. On the flip side, the hours at Sidley Austin can be ‘very long’ and ‘unpredictable’ and some recruits were frustrated that they end up with ‘very little free time’. ‘Not leaving my seat or looking away from the computer screen for 14 hours straight on a Sunday’ is an example of the commitment which is required from trainees. It is, however, encouraging that the firm places ‘trust in juniors’ and that people are ‘genuinely lovely – the associates are friends and even socialise outside of work, by choice’. Some enviable work highlights were cited in the feedback, such as ‘attending a four-day High Court trial in the Chancery Division’ and ‘spending a week in Madrid on a due diligence exercise’. If a firm which combines a ‘small office size with big, high-profile work’ sounds up your street, apply to Sidley Austin.
A day in the life of...
Cyril Cutinha trainee, Sidley Austin
Departments to date: Global finance group, restructuring, corporate
7.30am: I check through my emails to see whether anything has come in overnight and scan through the specialist news alerts linked to my phone on the way to the gym. Unless there is something that requires particular attention in the morning, I can usually get a session in before work.
9.30am: I get to my desk and update the corporate profiles on target companies our group is monitoring from the news alerts I flagged earlier. We work for hedge fund and private equity clients and as a trainee I can add value by updating my team on key developments and opportunities.
10.00am: We are advising a hedge fund on a potential investment in a distressed multinational company. One of the associates in our group asks me to review a clause in the main restructuring document and draft a table summarising its key terms.
11.30am: I discuss my draft with the associate who explains the implications of my findings and invites me to join her on a call with our client. During the call I make a note of the questions our client had and any aspects of the restructuring I was not clear on. There is time after the call to talk through any outstanding points internally and I am asked to revise my draft in light of our discussions.
12.45pm: I send my revised draft through to the associate and make sure she is happy with the additions. She asks me to circulate an email attaching the finished work product to the client and our wider team, directly.
1.00pm: I grab lunch with one of the trainees and send a message on our intake's Whatsapp group inviting everyone to join us on the firm’s roof terrace which is open all summer.
1.45pm: All the partners, associates and trainees in restructuring convene on a weekly basis to discuss matters the team is currently working on and any upcoming opportunities. These informal meetings are a good way of seeing how multiple matters progress.
2.30pm: My supervisor returns from a meeting and joins a conference call to discuss next steps on a large European restructuring we are engaged on. Following the call, my supervisor asks me to amend certain documents which are being negotiated and incorporate his comments.
4.30pm: One of the associates invites me out for a quick break and so we go for a coffee close to the office.
7.00pm: Once I am satisfied with the amendments I have made to the restructuring documents, I discuss the changes with my supervisor who is happy with the draft. I log off and head out to join friends for after-work drinks.
About the firm
Address:Woolgate Exchange, 25 Basinghall Street, London, EC2V 5HA
Telephone: 020 7360 3600
Managing partner: Tom Thesing
Other offices: Beijing, Boston, Brussels, Century City, Dallas, Geneva, Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Munich, New York, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Washington
Who we are: Sidley’s office in London has served clients in the London market since 1974. The firm gained a significant advantage in 1994 when it began offering English law advice in addition to US legal advice. Having lawyers qualified to practise in both jurisdictions for more than 20 years has enhanced our reputation for assisting global businesses and governments across a variety of industries.
What we do: Our main practice areas are: corporate; competition; debt and equity capital markets; debt finance, including structured finance, debt restructuring and derivatives; employment; financial services regulatory; food and drug law; hedge funds; insurance; IP/IT; litigation; private equity; real estate and real estate finance; restructuring; tax.
What we are looking for: We are looking for talented students who are genuinely intrigued by the commercial world. Individuals who can demonstrate a strong ability to analyse and to learn, can work well with others and get on well with clients and have perseverance and initiative.
What you'll do:Four six-month seats. Secondment opportunities are available as well as a client secondment. The PSC is now completed before starting your first seat.
Perks: 25 days' holiday per year; non-contributory pension scheme; private medical insurance; life assurance; income protection insurance; season ticket loan; free use of private clinics for GP appointments; employee assistance programme; cycle to work scheme; free membership to in-house gym or a contribution to a gym of your choice.
Facts and figures
Total partners: 45
Other fee-earners: 100+
Total trainees: 22
Trainee places available for 2021: 12
Applications received pa: 1,000
Percentage interviewed: 10%
First year: £47,000
Second year: £51,500
Newly qualified: £130,000
Apply to:Nicole Katz
What's involved: Online application and partner/HR interview
When to apply:
Training contracts: By 22 July 2019
Winter vacation scheme: By 5 November 2018
Spring vacation scheme: By 31 January 2019
Summer vacation scheme: By 31 January 2019