The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Global firm White & Case’s London office is one of the largest in the City. The firm has a longstanding presence in the finance and energy sectors and advises a broad and impressive list of clients, including banks, financial institutions, global companies and sovereigns.
The star performers
Acquisition finance; Asset finance and leasing; Banking litigation: investment and retail; Bank lending: investment grade debt and syndicated loans; Commercial litigation; Construction; Corporate restructuring and insolvency; Debt capital markets; Derivatives and structured products; Emerging markets; Equity capital markets; High yield; Infrastructure (including PFI and PPP); International arbitration; Islamic finance; Mining and minerals; Oil and gas; Power (including electricity, nuclear and renewables); Private equity: transactions; Trade finance
Represented the directors of The Co-operative Bank on the bank’s formal sales process under the Takeover Code and subsequent rescue restructuring and £700m capital raising; acted for Pallinghurst in its £211m hostile takeover offer for Gemfields; acted for the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Ghana as sponsor on a GHS10bn bond issuance programme backed by receipts from energy taxes; assisted The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company with negotiating the commercial agreements related to the sale of its international consumer business to Exponent Private Equity; represented Vale S.A. and Mitsui & Co., Ltd. on the development and $2.73bn financing of the landmark Nacala Corridor Railway and Port Project, an infrastructure project supporting growth along a regional corridor between Mozambique and Malawi
Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Cerberus Capital Management; Crédit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank; Harbour Energy Limited; Morgan Stanley; One-Pro Cycling Limited; PetroSaudi; Republic of Nigeria; Samsung; Trafigura
‘Global firm’ White & Case is a ‘leader in international arbitration’ and has an ‘outstanding reputation’ in projects, energy and finance, to name but a few practice areas. The firm is ‘very ambitious about being at the top of the legal services profession’. A Lex 100 winner-worthy guaranteed international seat, which provides ‘a window into how client expectations are different in different jurisdictions’, is part of the attractive training package. A generous salary earns the firm its second Lex 100 Winner medal. Unsurprisingly for an international firm, ‘complex cross-jurisdictional work’ is the norm; in fact, we hear that some trainees have ‘never worked on a purely domestic matter’. ‘Managing multiple work streams in a high-profile acquisition’ and ‘working on an investor state arbitration case whilst on secondment in Moscow’ stood out as highlights. ‘The more you ask, the more you get’ at White & Case and although the training is ‘less structured and more informal’, this has a ‘positive effect on learning’ because it provides ‘opportunities for more responsibility and substantive tasks’. Moreover, working closely with partners leads to ‘full involvement with matters from the beginning, instead of doing discrete tasks’. A side effect of this level of involvement is ‘unpredictable hours’, with ‘late nights and weekend working sometimes coming at very short notice’. Some trainees felt an ‘expectation to be available 24/7 for any small thing’ and begrudged ‘working until 5am with little recognition’. Generally though, the firm has a ‘fantastic ethos’ and diversity is very high on the agenda. If working with ‘all-round lovely people’ on a ‘genuinely interesting range of top-tier work’, the scope of which is ‘practically 100% international’, apply to White & Case.
A day in the life of...
Adam Armitage White & Case LLP
Departments to date: Asset finance, bank finance and private equity
University:University of Warwick
Degree:English and American Literature
8.45am: I arrive in the office to get settled, eat some breakfast from the newly refurbished Broad Street Kitchen (the office canteen) and check emails from overnight. Typically I will respond immediately to anything I can and then flag the emails which will take longer to deal with so I can plan my day accordingly.
9.15am: My supervisor has been instructed on a new mandate (a sell-side M&A process) and has asked me to prepare an NDA (a confidentiality agreement) which will be sent out to potential bidders. As we have recently been working together on another sell-side process, I use the previous NDA as a base and make the relevant deal-related tweaks.
10.00am: We have received an email from one of the big-four accountants (who we often work closely with) containing an updated steps plan for a group reorganisation we are working on for a client. The tax steps paper impacts on the legal documents so I need to update the legal timeline documents we have prepared for the client (showing in pictorial form the timing for the various steps) and the documents checklist (which contains all the documents required to implement the steps). The deal is very complex as it entails more than 10 different jurisdictions globally, which can make liaising with local counsel a work stream by itself!
11.30am: Our private equity team not only works on transactional mandates but also on portfolio matters for our various private equity clients. I have been working for one such portfolio matter during my seat which has involved various share issues to senior management. Currently we have prepared the documents for a share issue (and buyback) and I need to prepare the signing packs to be sent out by email to the various signatories.
1.00pm: I didn’t bring any food with me to the office today so I head out to one of the regular lunch locations close to the office with another trainee sat in a different department and we spend some time catching up on what we have been working on and our recent experiences in our respective teams.
2.00pm: I emailed our Hong Kong team overnight on the client matter (we often work closely with our other offices) and they have just responded providing advice on what is required from a Hong Kong perspective. I update the documents checklist accordingly and discuss one point with the associate on the matter to ensure I have understood properly what is required.
3.15pm: I have a Mandarin lesson with my tutor as I will be in White & Case’s Beijing office for my final seat. Although I previously lived in Hong Kong, my Mandarin is still fairly basic but I am hoping it will be easier to pick up when I am there.
5.00pm: I catch up on the emails which have come in when I was away from my desk. Again those emails which I already know the answer to I respond to immediately and the others I flag for further review.
5.30pm: My supervisor asks me to proof read one of the main transaction documents he is working on (the share purchase agreement) for one of our deals. Although this seems like a fairly straightforward task, the document is a few hundred pages long and it is easy to miss something, especially with cross-referencing.
6.30pm: I head down to the canteen to get some dinner with a few of the other trainees and catch-up on how everyone is doing.
7.15pm: I head back up to my desk to finish up the last few bits on my various matters and flag things which can be dealt with in the morning.
8.00pm: It’s the summer and the World Cup is on so I head out with some of the other trainees and junior associates in the team to watch the remainder of the match on that night.
Vacation scheme insider
Amy SharpeUniversity: University of Bristol Degree: Law with Study in Continental Europe
I applied for a winter vacation scheme at White & Case because I wanted to gain an insight into a global law firm. After spending an Erasmus year in Germany, I was interested in working for an international law firm where most of the work I would be involved in would be multi-jurisdictional and where I would have the opportunity to use my language skills.
Vacation scheme work
Our first day on the scheme involved an icebreaker activity and a partner introduction to the firm in the morning, followed by IT and research training in the afternoon. We also had a ‘Life as a Trainee Solicitor’ Q&A session and a welcome lunch with current trainees. We ended the day by meeting our supervisors and trainee buddies, before heading off to the London Eye for a champagne reception. The whole day was fun and relaxed, and it was great to meet so many people from the firm.
From the second day onwards, we spent most of our time working in our allocated departments. In the weeks before the scheme began, participants were asked to express their top three preferences as to which department they would like to sit in and nearly everybody got their first choice. We stayed within this department for both weeks of the scheme, which allowed us to settle into the team and get involved in more complex work over the course of the two weeks.
I was placed in the real estate department and shared an office with my supervising associate. I was also seated next door to my trainee buddy, which meant I always had a steady flow of work and someone who could answer any questions I had. My role was to support both my supervisor and trainee buddy in the work they were involved in. This could mean helping out with administrative tasks such as organising case files or preparing documents to be sent out to clients. I also undertook proofreading, research and drafting tasks independently. I was kept busy with a good range of work and felt that I was able to contribute to the matters the department was involved in.
Highlights of the vacation scheme included getting to know the varied people on my scheme and within the firm, and the range and quality of the work I was given. The overall experience I had in my allocated department was also a highlight; everybody was very welcoming and took the time to give me interesting tasks to complete and provide me with feedback on my work. This enabled me to settle in quickly and understand the context of the tasks I was working on. By the end of the scheme I felt I had learnt a lot.
The culture at White & Case is truly international. Many of the firm’s lawyers have spent time studying or working overseas, and speaking a second, third or fourth language seems to be the norm! All of the vac schemers and trainees are drawn to the firm’s multi-jurisdictional work and the guaranteed overseas seat included in the White & Case training contract.
This attraction to global work has a huge impact on the firm’s culture because it inevitably attracts individuals with international outlooks and experiences. That means you are always working within diverse teams, even before you’ve left the London office. I think that makes White & Case a unique place to work. The atmosphere at White & Case was generally very relaxed and people make time for fun things as well as their work. For example, the litigation and arbitration department have a tradition of holding mini Christmas celebrations in December, where each day people from the department take it in turns to organise a fun Christmas-themed activity, and everyone who is able to gathers to take some time off and get involved.
Social and networking events
The firm places a lot of emphasis on social and team-building activities. During the vacation scheme we took part in group activities, such as a London Underground game and a business simulation exercise. We also heard about what can be expected as a trainee or associate at White & Case, such as white-water rafting to kick off your training contract, or a new associates conference in Hamburg where you are able to meet other junior associates from other White & Case offices. The firm also holds a World Cup where teams from all of their international offices meet and compete against each other in football and volleyball.
Throughout the vacation scheme, we had various chances to network with people across the firm. For example, graduate recruitment organised networking drinks with partners, associates and trainees and a farewell dinner with partners on our final day. We were also invited to the firm’s Christmas carol service in the first week of the scheme.
Training contract interview
Over the last couple of days of the scheme, everyone was interviewed for a training contract. As well as the interview, we completed a group assessment (which everyone really enjoyed!) and a short research task.
About the firm
Address:5 Old Broad Street, London, EC2N 1DW
Telephone: 020 7532 1000
Fax:020 7532 1001
Managing partner: Melissa Butler
Other offices: 44 offices worldwide, spanning 30 countries.
Who we are: White & Case is a global law firm with nearly 2,200 lawyers worldwide. We’ve built an enviable network of 44 offices in 30 countries. That investment is the foundation for our client work in 165 countries today. Complex client projects, nuanced local market knowledge and global capabilities define who we are.
What we do: As a White & Case lawyer, you’ll work on fast-paced cutting-edge cross-border projects from the outset of your career. Many White & Case clients are multinational organisations with complex needs that require the involvement of multiple offices. We actively encourage our trainees to take early responsibility.
What we are looking for: White & Case is looking to recruit ambitious trainees who have a desire to gain hands-on practical experience from day one and a willingness to take charge of their own career. We value globally-minded citizens of the world who are eager to work across borders and cultures, and who are intrigued by solving problems within multiple legal systems. They should have an understanding of international commercial issues and an interest in working on big-ticket, cross-border work. We recruit both law and non-law students and owing to the nature of our work, language skills are of interest.
What you'll do:The training contract consists of four six-month seats, one of which is guaranteed to be spent in one of our overseas offices. The remaining three seats can be spent in any one of the firm’s practice groups in London. Receiving a high level of partner and senior associate contact from day one, our trainees can be confident that they will receive high-quality, stimulating and rewarding work.
Perks: In addition to our core benefits (including a personal pension plan, private medical insurance and life insurance) and flexible benefits (including cycle to work scheme, season ticket loan and dental insurance) every employee receives a Health-Wellness account where you can be reimbursed up to £500 per year towards the cost of fitness activities, gym memberships and relaxation services.
Sponsorship:Course fees paid for GDL and LPC and maintenance grant of £7,500 for GDL and £10,500 for LPC.
Facts and figures
Total partners: 107
Other fee-earners: 249
Total trainees: 79
Trainee places available for 2021: 50
Applications received pa: 3,500
First year: £46,000
Second year: £50,000
Newly qualified: £105,000
How: Apply online.
When to apply:By 31 July 2019 for training contracts to commence in September 2021 and March 2022.
What's involved:Please visit our website for more details.
Winter: 10-21 December 2018 (apply by 6 November 2018)
Spring:1-12 April 2019 (apply by 15 January 2019)
Summer:17-28 June 2019 (apply by 15 January 2019).
Open days: 14 November 2018 (apply by 4 November 2018) and 28 November 2018 (apply by 16 November 2018)
First year 2-day insight scheme: 15-16 May 2019 (apply by 31 March 2019)