The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Slaughter and May regularly handles some of the largest and most complex corporate and finance deals. A member of the City’s elite group of Magic Circle firms, it has a brilliant reputation for its M&A, corporate tax and commercial litigation teams. The firm has strategically placed offices in Hong Kong, Brussels and Beijing, and also has a network of relationships with a number of top corporate firms around the world.
The star performers
Acquisition finance; Aviation; Pensions (non-contentious); Employment: employers; Power (including electricity, nuclear and renewables); Employee share schemes; Oil and gas; Infrastructure (including PFI and PPP); Asset finance and leasing; Bank lending – investment grade debt and syndicated loans; Corporate restructuring and insolvency; Debt capital markets; Derivatives and structured products; Securitisation.
Advised Cable & Wireless Communications on the financing of its $1.85bn acquisition of Columbus International; acted on the winding-up of former Icelandic bank, Glitnir; advised Philips International on the de-risking of its pension fund in a £3.5bn buy-out; advised Ladbrokes on the employment elements of its merger with Gala Coral; advising Rolls-Royce on SFO and DoJ investigations into alleged bribery and corruption in overseas markets.
3i Group; BT Pension Scheme; British Airways; Cable & Wireless Communications; Carillion; Centrica; Ocado; Premier Oil; Santander; Standard Chartered.
Trainees are proud to work at Slaughter and May due to the firm’s ‘Magic Circle prestige’ and ‘reputation for excellence’. The firm is ‘regarded highly among businesses’, so it is no surprise that ‘the quality of the clients is fantastic’. The ‘multi-specialist approach’ ensures trainees ‘get to work on a much wider range of legal issues’, rather than focusing on one particular area of law in each seat. Work highlights include ‘working as part of a small team on a very large and high-profile corporate restructuring of an overseas company’ and ‘closing the second largest restructuring in European history’. Trainees sometimes struggle as ‘standards are relentlessly high’, and respondents comment that they have felt ‘under intense pressure’ and ‘over-burdened’ during their training contract. That said, the ‘lack of billing targets’ is a plus point. Hours can be ‘unpredictable’, and this can include ‘working bank holidays’ and some ‘all-nighters’, but respondents identify the ‘lack of a face-time culture’. There is an ‘intellectual’ strain running through Slaughter and May, and you can look forward to ‘working with incredibly bright people from a variety of different backgrounds’. Lex 100 Winner status has been secured in the confidence in being kept on category. The firm ‘can be very hierarchical’, and it is reported that there is ‘little social interaction outside of working hours’, but colleagues are ‘personable and friendly’. The training is ‘excellent’, as ‘associates make an effort to give us good, substantive work’ and ‘partners often get involved in training’. As such, trainees ‘learn from partners and senior associates who are at the top of their fields’. For ‘the chance to work with some of the finest legal brains in the City’, apply to Slaughter and May.
A day in the life of...
Kathryn Warden trainee solicitor, Slaughter and May
Departments to date: Financing, dispute resolution, pensions and employment, corporate
Degree:Law LLB (Hons)
9.30am: My typical day starts at this time but I don’t usually get busy until 10.00am, so I have time to catch up with the latest news.
10.30am: I join a conference call about the takeover I am working on and I am charged with taking a note of the call. We discuss the progress of the transaction documents and the next steps required with the client and its financial advisors. On these types of transactions, I have been included on every call and email, a process which allowed me to become familiar with other advisors and better understand the transaction as a whole.
11.45am: The associates and I sit down to discuss our ‘to-do’ list for today. My main task is completing verification of the scheme document and amending it to reflect the changes discussed on this morning’s call.
12.00pm: I get an email from the target company’s lawyers asking us for comments by 3.00pm on an announcement. I read the announcement and mark it up with minor comments. I give my comments to one of the associates to approve.
12.30pm: I attend a lunchtime trainee training session on private equity led by a partner in my group. Trainee training sessions are very practical. The sessions are based on the groups that you sit in, so they are really helpful in providing you with a good grasp of the areas that you may come across during your time in that particular seat.
2.00pm: I join a presentation meeting with two other trainees from my corporate group. Most of our groups encourage trainees to develop their presentation skills. As a result, I sometimes find myself giving a presentation to partners who are experts in that particular field – a prospect that is slightly intimidating but one to which you grow accustomed.
2.30pm: Returning to my office, I find that the associate has approved my comments on the announcement and has given me his mark-up of the scheme document.
3.00pm: I send our revised drafts to the other side. The associate and I agree that the best approach is to call our client and its financial advisors in order to finalise the verification process. I have been given a great deal of responsibility from the outset on this transaction.
3.45pm: My supervisor asks me to carry out some research for him on the application of the class tests under the listing rules.
4.00pm: I have offered to take an interviewee on a tour of our office. I often get involved in recruitment events and am frequently asked about travel and secondment opportunities at the firm. During my training contract, I have been fortunate enough to spend time working in Dubai for a client, and I have recently been offered the opportunity to go on secondment to Barcelona for my final seat.
5.30pm: I send the finalised verification notes to the other side. I call the associates to make sure there is nothing more they need from me tonight and I am asked to check out a point on the takeover code before I leave.
6.00pm: My supervisor asks me to join a call he has with a client to further my understanding of the impact of a new regulation which will come into force soon.
7.00pm: I head to my group’s summer party with a few of the summer work experience scheme students. Each group has two big parties a year and there are other great events throughout the year. One memorable event I recently attended was a women’s committee event for International Women’s Day with a celebrity guest speaker.
About the firm
Address:One Bunhill Row, London, ECIY 8YY
Telephone: 020 7090 4454
Senior partner : Chris Saul
Practice partner : David Wittmann
Executive partner : Richard Clark
Other offices: Beijing, Brussels, Hong Kong and close working relationships with market-leading law firms in other jurisdictions.
Who we are: Slaughter and May is one of the most prestigious law firms in the world. We advise on high-profile and often landmark international transactions. Our excellent and varied client list ranges from governments to entrepreneurs, from retailers to entertainment companies and from conglomerates to Premier League football clubs.
What we do: We are a full-service law firm to corporate clients and have leading practitioners across a wide range of practice areas including mergers and acquisitions, corporate and commercial, financing, tax, competition, dispute resolution, real estate, pensions and employment, financial regulation, information technology and intellectual property.
What we are looking for: A strong academic background (good 2(1)), plenty of common sense and the willingness to accept responsibility. We are interested in applications from any source – 84 universities are represented among our lawyers.
What you'll do:During the two-year training contract, trainees turn their hand to a broad range of work, taking an active role in four, five or six groups while sharing an office with a partner or experienced associate. Most trainees spend at least two six-month seats in our market-leading corporate, commercial and financing groups. Subject to gaining some contentious experience, they choose how to spend the remaining time.
Perks: Private medical insurance, money purchase pension scheme with life cover, interest-free loan, childcare vouchers, interest-free season ticket loans, personal accident cover, subsidised staff restaurant and coffee bar, special membership terms for health club, corporate entertainment benefits, cycle to work scheme, 30 days of annual leave with the option to apply annually for up to 5 days' unpaid leave, qualification leave, qualification leave interest-free loan, enhanced family leave pay.
Sponsorship:The firm pays for tuition and examination fees for both the GDL and LPC courses and also provides a maintenance grant.
Facts and figures
Trainee places available for 2019: 80
First year: £43,000
Second year: £48,000
Newly qualified: £78,000
Total partners: 114 worldwide
Total trainees:141 worldwide
Apply to:Janine Arnold, trainee recruitment manager.
When to Apply:See website for deadline dates.