Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Clifford Chance

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Clifford Chance

Why did you choose this firm over any other? ‘Opportunities to do industry-altering work with a team of people that are patient and willing to teach’; ‘the firm works on some of the largest and most exciting deals which allows you to get involved with interesting work. It also offers remarkable training which really brings out the best in you’; ‘because of its excellent training and the professional yet approachable, friendly people’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Everyone is the best at what they do, including the stationery department, the cleaners, the partners and the concierge. It makes you do better as well because you respect everyone’; ‘the international aspect’; ‘the ability to feel responsibility very early on, and to feel like you are a crucial part of the firm’s strategy’; ‘Clifford Chance is certainly the most inclusive work environment I’ve experienced’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The pressure that comes from working for such a prestigious firm’; ‘location in Canary Wharf’; ‘work/life balance’; ‘the hours’; ‘there are late nights, as with all firms. People are ambitious’; ‘the scale of some of the work can be intimidating – making you doubt yourself at the start’

Best moment? ‘Being trusted to essentially run my own deal’; ‘sitting in on interesting discussions and meetings’; ‘drafting parts of submissions for headline-grabbing deals’; ‘being given real responsibility’; ‘providing legal advice on COVID-19, which was very topical’; ‘being told by a Court of Appeal judge that my bundles were a “thing of beauty”‘

Worst moment? ‘Coronavirus meaning remote working for the entire firm – first seaters had been at their desks for one week so this has been tough’; ‘various very late nights’; ‘feeling unsure how to complete certain tasks during the first couple of weeks and having associates chasing for work’

The Lex 100 verdict on Clifford Chance

At the ‘top of the market’ and described as the ‘most inclusive and diverse firm’ with the ‘best training and reputation’, Clifford Chance is a must on any prospective trainee’s list of elite City firms with global reach. A member of the Magic Circle, the firm’s reputation is one of ‘prestige’ with a ‘focus on exceptionalism’ through its high quality of work and ‘market-leading’ client base. Trainees highlight that ‘the firm works on some of the largest and most exciting deals which allows you to get involved with interesting work. It also offers remarkable training which really brings out the best in you’, alongside fostering a ‘sense of belonging’ and ‘culture of inclusivity’. A trainee identifies that ‘the culture is what swayed it for me. Coming from a low income background, I felt out of place in a lot of firms that I had experienced, but Clifford Chance made me feel comfortable and welcome’. This feeling is echoed by the results of our survey, with Clifford Chance securing Lex 100 Winner awards for overall job satisfaction, living up to expectations, financial remuneration, inclusivity and international secondment opportunities. The ‘continuous and focused’ training programme is applauded but common complaints centre upon the firm’s Canary Wharf location and some ‘brutal’ hours. In some ways this comes with the territory of a Magic Circle firm and trainees highlight that the ‘perks’ and firm culture help to make up for it. If it’s the Magic Circle you’re after with all the associated challenges and perks, Clifford Chance is an obvious contender.


A day in the life of… Francis Beechinor-Collins, Newly qualified lawyer in assets, energy and infrastructure in the Frankfurt office, Clifford Chance

Francis Beechinor-Collins, Clifford Chance

Departments to date: the financial institutions group (corporate), construction, project finance (Singapore) – where the experiences described below took place

University: School of Oriental and African Studies London

Degree: BA Chinese (Modern and Classical), first-class honours

7.30am: If I haven’t been working too late and can avoid the snooze button, I’ll head down to the gym or go for a run around Orchard Road.

8.45am: I have breakfast in the apartment complex with the other London trainees where we catch up on the deals we’re working on and what trips we have planned.

9.30am: I get to my desk where I catch up on my emails and start on the urgent tasks of the day. I have been working on deals where various parties are in India and Abu Dhabi so queries and tasks can trickle through overnight.

10.00am: I attend my department’s fortnightly catch up meeting where we discuss the projects we’re working on and who may be particularly stretched in terms of workload. More recently, my time has been taken up with working on a few deals all for one client, but usually I will work on a variety of deals throughout the week.

11.00am: I prepare the documents needed for two more banks to join the loan agreements we have spent the past couple of weeks preparing.

12.30pm: I meet some of the London or Singaporean trainees (if I have the time!) and grab a salad and iced coffee from one of the salad bars downstairs for my lunch break.

1.15pm: A colleague sends me a document in Chinese relating to an offshore wind farm, essentially asking: ‘What does this mean?!’. I review and send a brief summary back. Being in Singapore has meant that I can not only progress my legal skills, but also my Chinese language skills, as we get a lot of China/Taiwan-related work. I’m glad my degree is being put to good use!

3.30pm: A bank calls my direct dial and says that they have some points needing clarification or amending before they sign a document. I talk through their issue and then figure out the next steps to take. Being in a smaller office like Singapore has meant that I’ve been handed more responsibility, and I really feel this on a day-to-day basis.

5.00pm: The signature pages of documents which I sent out for execution earlier in the day trickle through. I review them for any issues.

6.00pm: I head to an office social to catch up with colleagues or one of the events happening on our floor, such as the Arcus art exhibition or presentations on improving female presence in the workplace.

9.00pm: After tidying up some pieces of billable work, I head home and plan my upcoming trips to Borneo or Vietnam. The great thing about living in Singapore is that you can travel to some amazing places even just for a weekend!

About the firm

Senior partner: Jeroen Ouwehand

Managing partner: Matthew Layton

Other offices: Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Beijing, Brussels, Bucharest, Casablanca, Dubai, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Luxembourg, Madrid, Milan, Moscow, Munich, Newcastle, New York, Paris, Perth, Prague, Rome, São Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Warsaw, Washington

Who we are: We’re a leading global corporate law firm, but we’re not a typical one. Far from it. Life here means doing the best work for exceptional clients while being yourself.

What we do: We offer legal expertise across a broad spectrum of commercial issues. And we have a diverse mix of clients.

What we’re looking for: Someone resilient, curious, creative and open to new challenges. Someone who loves to learn. A great problem-solver. A smart thinker.

What you’ll do: When you start each seat, you’ll have in-depth training in that sector. This will bring you up to speed with the issues and challenges you’re likely to face. You’ll also have a dedicated supervisor in each seat and have regular meetings with the graduate development team.

Inclusion and diversity

At Clifford Chance we see inclusion as a core value of the firm and also of the law.

We understand that diversity and inclusion are good for our staff and their families, our firm and our clients, and society. We believe that to help achieve these values we have to be champions of and campaigners for them across our firm, with our clients and in the world.

We see inclusion as an intrinsic value of our firm. It is a matter of justice. It is also a core part of our identity. Our history as a firm has been anchored in innovative and diverse cultures and approaches which have both disrupted traditional attitudes and set global standards.

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