Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Ashurst

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Ashurst

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘I liked the international reach of the work’, ‘reputation as a friendlier firm’, ‘the people I met seemed friendly’, ‘inclusive and friendly culture’, ‘they cared about my personality over anything else, which is very reassuring’, ‘quality of training’, ‘international opportunities’, ‘unpretentious’, ‘I was made to feel very welcome during the vacation scheme’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The high level of encouragement to take on more responsibility’, ‘I am very happy working here’, ‘the variety of backgrounds (different universities/schools) is refreshing’, ‘open-door policy’, ‘the people – the culture seems to manifest itself’, ‘everyone really does get along’, ‘you get to work with high-profile clients but don’t always have to face late nights’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The IT system’, ‘unpredictable hours’, ‘overseas secondments are very competitive’, ‘perceived pressure not to make mistakes’, ‘sometimes the inefficiency of the business support systems’, ‘the way the qualification process is managed’, ‘the compulsory finance seat’, ‘hours can be variable, but that’s normal for a City firm’

Best moment? ‘Going abroad for a closing’, ‘working with very senior partners’, ‘going to Madrid on secondment’, ‘the department outing to the south of France: a three-day trip all paid for by the firm’, ‘sharing an office with some amazing supervisors and the team spirit that comes with that’, ‘closing a multi-million-pound fund raising with only a partner’, ‘working on an iconic windfarm project’

Worst moment? ‘The occasional dull task’, ‘long hours preparing signature packs’, ‘feeling overworked’, ‘bible creation’, ‘going through a badly-organised data room trying to find documents’, ‘all-nighters’, ‘staying beyond midnight for a week straight’, ‘the competitive nature of other trainees at times’, ‘the rare occasion when I’m the only one of my department left in the office’

The Lex 100 verdict on Ashurst

The firm: “Ashurst fosters an inclusive working environment which genuinely values the breadth of individual perspectives and contributions we gain from having a diverse workforce. It’s a strong, shared culture that will enable you to apply your intellect, develop and thrive as an international commercial lawyer.”

The deals: Advising Goldman Sachs on the launch of its digital-first retail banking platform, Marcus; advising on the £1.4 billion takeover of John Laing Infrastructure Fund Limited by a consortium jointly led by Dalmore Capital and Equitix Investment Management; advising Johnston Press on its pre-packaged administration sale to JPIMedia, a newly incorporated group owned by the group’s major bond holders; advising Santander in relation to the Business Banking Switch Scheme; advising a consortium led by Dalmore Capital on the agreed 100% acquisition of Cory Riverside Energy from Strategic Value Partners and its affiliates – one of the largest infrastructure investments in the UK in 2018.

The clients: Amazon; BP; Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Credit Suisse; EY; Goldman Sachs; National Express; Oxford Properties; Virgin Media; Westfield.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Acquisition finance; Bank lending: investment grade debt and syndicated loans; Banking litigation: investment and retail; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Commercial property: Corporate occupiers; Derivatives and structured products; Employee share schemes; Financial services (non-contentious/ regulatory); Fintech; Insurance: corporate and regulatory; International arbitration; Pensions (non-contentious); Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology; Private equity: transactions – high-value deals; Property finance; Property litigation; Rail; Regulatory investigations and corporate crime; VAT and indirect tax

The verdict

‘First-class work across a range of different practice areas’ gives Ashurst its edge. The City outfit’s ‘reputation as a friendlier firm’, showcased during the vacation scheme and interview process, made trainees certain that Ashurst was the place for them. The ‘down-to-earth vibe’ manifests itself in the form of an ‘open-door policy for everyone, no matter how senior’ and ‘great supervisors who are willing to teach you and guide you through mistakes’. Moreover, ‘high-quality work’ and ‘a great deal of in-depth training at the start of each seat’ helped trainees feel comfortable and challenged in equal measure. Ashurst’s ‘international reach’ was highlighted by many, with reports of trainees having a ‘fantastic experience’ on the firm’s Lex 100 Winner medal-worthy international secondments. Even in the London office, an international vibe pervades and instances of ‘working with clients and our other offices across the world’ are common. ‘Late nights waiting for documents to come in’ and ‘being awake for 36 hours straight for a signing’ support the feedback that ‘the hours can be unpredictable’. But it was acknowledged that this is no more than typical for a City firm, and is, in fact, an ‘industry-wide phenomenon’. In any case, recruits were appeased by the fact that they are ‘much more often expressly thanked for work’ than peers at some comparable firms. If a firm with ‘knowledgeable and approachable people’ which provides a ‘high level of work alongside very good support’ sounds up your street, consider Ashurst.

A day in the life of… … Rebecca Hacker, fourth-seat trainee, Ashurst LLP

Rebecca Hacker, Ashurst

Departments to date: Dispute resolution, global loans, projects, pro bono

University: Durham

Degree: Classics

9.00am: I arrive at work between 9.00 and 9.30am. I sit down with a coffee, check my emails and update my daily to-do list.

9.45am: A partner in a European office calls me, asking about the provisions she needs to include in an engagement letter for a new pro bono client. I send her the template engagement letter and we discuss the next steps of opening a file.

10.15am: I receive an email from the welfare benefits supervisor at our partner law centre, who has identified a new case for me to take on. This will involve helping the client to appeal a decision not to grant him personal independence payment (‘PIP’). We schedule an initial meeting with the client at the law centre, where I will gather information about his case before starting to draft submissions to the tribunal.

10.30am: I review our weekly email of potential pro bono matters. I identify projects which meet the firm’s criteria and fall within our areas of expertise, and send the list to one of my supervisors to decide whether we submit bids.

11.00am: I join the weekly pro bono team meeting. We share updates, including new projects being launched and upcoming events. Then we run through the work each of us will be focusing on this week.

11.45am: I have a catch-up call with an associate in the projects department who is working with me on preparing an application for exceptional case funding (‘ECF’, a category of legal aid) for a client of Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) who is in immigration detention and facing deportation. If the client is granted ECF, it will enable her to access legal advice and representation to appeal her deportation. We discuss the further evidence we need to gather from the client.

12.30pm: I call the same BID client to ask her whether there have been any updates in her case, and explain we need further evidence to submit with her application.

1.00pm: I meet a group of other trainees, and we head to Spitalfields market to have lunch and catch up.

2.00pm: Having received my supervisor’s comments on the list of potential new pro bono matters, I ask the compliance team to run initial conflict searches. I also draft emails to teams in other offices with relevant expertise, explaining the nature of each matter.

3.00pm: I have received a referral from our pro bono client who has asked me to conduct an initial call with the aunt of an unaccompanied child refugee alone in Belgium. I call the aunt, and dial in an interpreter to translate. I gather information and explain what the next steps will be if they decide to pursue an application for reunification.

4.10pm: I review my note of the call and send it to the lawyer who is dealing with the case, summarising the key information and raising issues which require further investigation.

5.00pm: I join a meeting with representatives of an NGO working in the field of criminal justice reform. We discuss the NGO’s work and areas where we could provide support. On the way back, my supervisor and I discuss the kind of projects we could develop with the NGO.

6.00pm: Back at my desk, I continue some research into the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and set out a note. This is in preparation for a meeting later this week organised for firms in the UK Collaborative Plan for Pro Bono (of which Ashurst is a member).

7.30pm: I check I have completed today’s tasks on my to-do list, and head home.

About the firm

Chairman: Ben Tidswell

Managing partner: Paul Jenkins

Other offices: Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Brisbane, Brisbane – Ann St, Brussels, Canberra, Dubai, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Jeddah, London, Luxembourg, Madrid, Melbourne, Milan, Munich, New York, Paris, Perth, Port Moresby, Riyadh, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo

Who we are: With 27 offices in 16 countries, Ashurst is a leading global law firm at the forefront of legal technology innovation.

What we do: Banking, capital markets, competition, construction, corporate/M&A, employment, IP, dispute resolution, private equity and investment management, pro bono, projects and energy, real estate, restructuring, tax and technology.

What we’re looking for: We are looking for inquisitive and forward-thinking trainees who enjoying problem-solving and have a passion for client service.

What you’ll do: You complete four seats of six months’ duration while being supervised by a senior solicitor or partner.

Perks: Future trainee loan of up to £2,000, £500 language bursary, £500 first-class degree prize, health insurance, life insurance, income protection, childcare vouchers, gym membership, season ticket loan, 25 days’ holiday with ability to buy more, daily fruit breakfast.