The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Vinson & Elkins' London office opened in 1974, making it one of the oldest of any US firm. The firm's London office has particular strength in oil and gas, energy projects and global telecoms deals, and advises corporates, private equity investors, service providers and financial institutions. Vinson & Elkins' network of 16 offices is spread across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East.
The star performers
Construction; Corporate tax; International arbitration; M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+; Oil and gas.
Instructed by Apache Corporation to specifically handle the tax aspects of its disposal of interest in the Scottish Area Gas Evacuation system and Beryl Pipeline; representing Saipem in an ICC claim brought against a Gazprom entity over a terminated contract to build the South Stream gas pipeline between Russia and southern Europe; representing Uz-kor Gas Chemical and its sponsors on the construction of a $4bn integrated upstream gas and petrochemical complex in the Ustyurt region of Uzbekistan; advised Woodside Petroleum on its $350m acquisition of ConocoPhillips' interests in Senegal; advised SOCAR GPC on its proposed development of a gas processing plant and petrochemicals facility in Azerbaijan.
Africa Oil Corp; Apache Corporation; Club Company (Group); Helios Investment Partners; Panama Canal Authority; Saipem; SOCAR GPC; Statoil; Uz-kor Gas Chemical; Woodside Petroleum.
Trainees enjoy the 'very exciting international elements' that come with training at the Houston-headquartered Vinson & Elkins, which 'can be anything from working with local counsel on a case governed by foreign law, to dealing with our international offices across different time zones'. Related highlight moments include 'preparing for and attending a hearing abroad' and 'being asked to be the first V&E trainee ever to go on a secondment to our Tokyo office', and the firm is named a Lex 100 Winner in the international secondments category. The vacation scheme showed the firm in a positive light, revealing a 'friendly atmosphere' in which it was 'a pleasure to work with everyone'. The training contract has a non-rotational seat structure which 'means that we get to stay on whatever projects we work on, often from start to finish'. Through this approach 'trainees are given a greater level of responsibility from an earlier stage', but there is 'no place here for people who want to skate through their training contracts' as you 'have to be pro-active'. Such intensity is a challenge the trainees relish, but 'you can end up totally swamped with work' and 'there can be weeks at a time when going home before 10pm is impossible'. The firm is 'full of down-to-earth people' who 'are always willing to help and explain, no matter their level of seniority'. Being part of a small intake is considered advantageous as 'you are known within the firm, and trusted more easily, which results in higher quality work and client contact'. Also, there are 'regular social events' that help contribute to a 'happy and supportive workplace'. To join an 'international firm with a great reputation' and expertise in the energy sector, apply to Vinson & Elkins.
A day in the life of...
Departments to date: Energy, transactions and projects, Dubai
How does the summer vacation placement programme link into the training contract process? Most of our trainees, if not all, are recruited from the summer vacation placement programme. This is how I started here. The programme gives applicants a valuable opportunity to showcase their skills and personality, as well as allowing them to get a feel for what a training contract at Vinson & Elkins would be like. The vacation scheme students are treated as if they are trainees, so the best candidates will be the ones who are not work-shy and get along with people in the office. My advice to any future vacation placement student would be to look for work from a range of practice areas, as it will give a good idea of what it would be like to be a trainee here.
How is the training programme structured at Vinson & Elkins? Instead of a traditional rigid seat-based system, the training programme here is "non-rotational". This means that although you might be sitting within the tax department, your work will be spread across all the practice groups, which may range from employment matters to litigation to transactional work. One of the biggest advantages of the non-rotational system is that trainees are often able to see a matter through from beginning to end, which is invaluable in helping trainees develop an understanding for the structuring and processes of a particular deal they're working on, for example. It also means that, if your project is gathering speed, other trainees can step in to support.
What does a typical day as a trainee at Vinson & Elkins consist of? So far in my experience, every day at Vinson & Elkins is different. There is so much variety in the work that we take on that we could be working on a piece of tax-related research in the morning and popping down to the Royal Courts of Justice in the afternoon; or equally we could be engrossed in the same finance project all day - we just have to be able to balance all of our work and make sure nothing falls behind! On a quieter day I'd also catch up on recent legal developments that are interesting to me.
How much involvement do trainees have in the deals and transactions they are assisting on at Vinson & Elkins? Trainees are encouraged to take on as much responsibility as they can, so we are usually as very much involved as the associates on the case. Even though most of the work taken on by the firm is highly complex, we can become completely included right from the start, diving into the details along with the rest of the team. We support and are supported by everyone else on the project, so we definitely are an integral part of the office, even though we are still learning! In fact, it is entirely possible to see trainees' work being incorporated into a final statement of case, or see trainees taking the lead on a particular aspect of a transaction.
What is the culture like at Vinson & Elkins? We are a small and inclusive office - it is entirely possible to learn everyone's name by the first week! You can often see people from different departments going out for a coffee together, or a group of colleagues gathering in the kitchen during lunchtime catching up on their week. The people at Vinson & Elkins also put a lot of effort and commitment into what they are doing - so in addition to being extremely capable and hard-working lawyers, we are also people who enjoy playing sports and music and spending time with friends and family. Just last month, for example, the office organised a bike ride from London to Paris in aid of Bowel Cancer UK and Marie Curie.
About the firm
Address:20 Fenchurch Street, London, EC3M 3BY
Telephone: 020 7065 6000
Fax:020 7065 6001
Training principal : Mark Beeley
Managing partner : Alex Msimang
Other offices: Austin, Beijing, Dallas, Dubai, Hong Kong, Moscow, New York, Palo Alto, Richmond, Riyadh, San Francisco, Taipei, Tokyo and Washington.
Who we are: Vinson & Elkins is a leading US-headquartered global law firm with approximately 650 lawyers located in 16 offices across the globe.
What we do: Vinson & Elkins advises clients in the sector's most complex transactions, projects and disputes. We have extensive experience throughout the energy industry value chain: exploration, production, transportation, refining and marketing, petrochemicals, power and cogeneration, environmental, and regulation - in all major energy hubs and energy markets.
What we are looking for: We are looking to recruit ambitious individuals with exceptional academic results (2(1) degree minimum and at least AAB at A-level or equivalent), sound commercial awareness and rounded personalities. The ability to think laterally and creatively is essential, as is a need for common sense and a willingness to take the initiative. Foreign language skills are an asset, but by no means a requirement.
What you'll do:Vinson & Elkins operates a non-rotational training system and trainees work across our practice areas throughout their two years. This means that while trainees share offices with more senior lawyers and physically change where they sit every six months, they are available to receive work from all departments (and all our offices) at the same time.
Perks: Medical insurance, dental insurance, travel insurance, life insurance, Simply Health cash plan, subsidised gym membership, access to private GPs, employee assistance programme, pension and interest-free season ticket loan.
Sponsorship:We pay GDL and LPC fees and provide a stipend of £8,000 whilst studying the GDL and LPC.
Facts and figures
Training contracts available for 2020: 4
Applications received pa: 302
Percentage interviewed: 17%
First year: £50,000
Second year: £55,000
Newly qualified: £120,000
Total partners: 16
Apply to:Graduate recruitment
When to Apply:
Training Contract: by 31 July 2018
Summer Vacation Scheme: by 31 January 2018