Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Hogan Lovells

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Hogan Lovells

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Reputation for being friendly and inclusive’, ‘progressive policies for working parents’, ‘having done vac schemes at a few different firms, HL lawyers were by far the nicest and most approachable’, ‘excellent quality of work’, ‘everyone I met was friendly and I could imagine myself working with them, ‘broad range of practice areas’, ‘good international secondment opportunities’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The friendly nature’, ‘the food in the new canteen’, ‘pretty much everyone is very nice, intelligent and approachable’, ‘openness while still taking work seriously’, ‘the comforts of office life are well managed so actually doing the job is easy’, ‘location, free gym, subsidised food’, ‘very social’, ‘everyone I have worked with is understanding and genuinely really open’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Uneven distribution of work’, ‘unpredictable hours’, ‘the method of seat allocation – some people get all their preferred options, others get none’, ‘there is still some unnecessary hierarchy hanging around’, ‘limited information available to trainees about the promotion process’, ‘the horrible lights around the otherwise lovely fountain in reception – it makes it look like a Flares/Reflex!’

Best moment? ‘Working on an equity placing for a FTSE-250 client’, ‘attending strategy meetings with a client’, ‘attending court’, ‘generally being relied upon as an integral part of the team’, ‘secondment to Paris’, ‘the HL BaSE programme’, ‘business travel to client offices for a week of meetings where I was trusted to translate’, ‘the summer party at the Tower of London!’

Worst moment? ‘Being given unclear instructions and then getting blamed for the poor output’, ‘sorting piles of original documents late at night’, ‘the qualification process’, ‘working very long hours on holiday’, ‘endless bundling’, ‘my arbitration seat’, ‘staying very late to do a billing task I didn’t really understand’, ‘the work/life balance’, ‘categorising tens of thousands of documents by language for a week’

The Lex 100 verdict on Hogan Lovells

The firm: “When Hogan Lovells say they’re global game-changers, it’s no exaggeration. With a network of 2,600+ lawyers in 48 international offices, they solve some of the toughest legal problems around the world. The firm acts for corporations, financial institutions and governments, and is highly regarded for its dispute resolution, IP, projects and real estate practices. The best part? They do it all as one team, seamlessly across continents, borders and time zones.”

The deals: Acted for Cenkos Securities in the £572.7m AIM IPO of Eddie Stobart Logistics; acted for Eli Lilly on a Supreme Court litigation against Actavis whose generic version of the client’s oncology product, Alimta, infringed upon the brand name drug; advised Uber in its judicial reviews of TfL’s regulatory requirements and on the withdrawal of its licence; coordinating the multi-jurisdictional defence for Air Canada in the £5bn damages claims in the air cargo cartel case; advising King’s Cross Central Ltd Partnership on all construction aspects of the £2bn King’s Cross Central development, which involves an innovative cooling pod and a building enclosing a hydrogen fuel cell.

The clients: 21st Century Fox; Axa; BNP Paribas; British American Tobacco; Coca Cola; HNA Group; Pension Protection Fund; Shaftesbury Plc; Toshiba; Zimmer Biomet.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Administrative and public law; Brexit; Commercial contracts; Competition litigation; Construction (contentious); Corporate governance; Emerging markets; Employee share schemes; Employment: employers and senior executives; EU and competition; Fintech; Flotations: small and mid-cap; International arbitration; Pensions (non-contentious); Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology; Planning; Power (including electricity and renewables); Product liability: defendant; Professional negligence; Rail.

The verdict

Hogan Lovells’ esteemed reputation in all three areas of corporate, litigation and finance sets it apart: ‘most City firms only have a really great reputation in two of these areas’, noted respondents. The ‘truly international’ firm is a Lex 100 Winner for its overseas secondments, from which trainees undoubtedly return ‘more confident’. A ‘broad range of practice areas’ and ‘innovative work’ for an ‘impressive client list’ ensure that recruits ‘get excellent training even in practice areas which are otherwise considered to be niche’. What’s more, a ‘supportive and high-performing culture’ is proof that Hogan Lovells ‘genuinely cares about trainees and their development’. The firm also has a ‘great track record on diversity across the board’. The ‘requirement to do seats in certain departments’ was begrudged by some, who would like ‘more flexibility to tailor the training contract to our interests’. A few respondents complained that some partners ‘don’t engage with junior lawyers’ and ‘don’t know how to treat trainees’. However, other colleagues are described as ‘always approachable’ and ‘grateful for the effort trainees put in’. Reports about the work/life balance differed too; whilst some respondents considered the hours ‘better than at Magic Circle firms’, others chimed that this is ‘very team-dependent’. Worst moments such as ‘December in a finance seat’ is proof of the latter. ‘Being in the midst of a crazy transaction involving lawyers in nine jurisdictions’ was a clear highlight. Overall, the ‘trainees are just a genuinely great group of people who look out for one another’, which is bolstered by an ‘active social life among the cohort’. To work at a firm with an impressive ‘geographical footprint’ which offers a fantastic breadth of work, consider Hogan Lovells.

A day in the life of… Amoe Mkwena, trainee, Hogan Lovells

Amoe Mkwena, Hogan Lovells

University: University of Exeter

Degree: Law LLB 2(1)

9.30am: I arrive at the office having checked my emails on my work phone during my commute, to ensure that there is nothing urgent I need to respond to. The first thing I do is update my to-do list in light of the emails I received overnight and then I make myself a coffee, before catching up with my supervisor.

9.45am: I have been part of a large restructuring following the merger of two big confectionary businesses since the beginning of my seat; responding to emails from this deal often takes up my whole morning. At the moment we are reviewing and drafting documents for several ‘steps’ , which are mini transactions in five different jurisdictions. This means that we need to be careful to ensure that the English law elements of the steps are correct, as the rest of the local counsel will rely on our advice when completing each step. I then review documents from Hong Kong and make the necessary changes to our UK documents.

1.00pm: I usually have lunch in the staff cafeteria with another trainee in my intake. Today, however, I grab lunch with my mentee from one of our summer vacation schemes. I took part in a summer vacation scheme in 2015, which was such a useful and enriching experience.

2.00pm: The corporate team is one of the biggest departments in the firm and so there is an opportunity to get involved with a wide variety of work. Along with the restructuring of the confectionary businesses, I have been helping with a reorganisation of an insurance company. This is really interesting as we are using a scheme of arrangement to effect the changes to the rights of policyholders. This involves approval by the court. We need to be able to identify what rights the policyholders have. To do this we need to conduct very detailed due diligence, reviewing a variety of policy documents and marketing materials, to see what the company has offered policyholders in the past. I spend the rest of my afternoon reviewing these documents and recording my findings in a report.

3.15pm: I have a conference call with members of the Africa practice, about some work that might be coming in from an African bank that the team would like me to get involved in. I take notes on the call and afterwards we discuss how we might be able to help. It sounds like an interesting opportunity and is something that I am excited to be involved in, as I will be going on secondment to South Africa next month. This means I will be able to continue to help ‘on the ground’ during my time in Johannesburg. I have been interested in doing Africa work since I joined the firm, so I am looking forward to working on this.

4.00pm: I meet with the team working on the insurance scheme of arrangement to see where we are with the due diligence and report back any questions or anomalies in our findings. It is often the case in the corporate team that you work with a variety of people in different stages of their career so it’s good exposure. You get to learn from senior lawyers, get tips from more junior lawyers, and share ideas with other trainees. Plus, working in teams makes work more fun and sociable!

4.30pm: I continue with the due diligence in light of the feedback received from the senior associate in the insurance team. He is a leader in his field and always gives good, thorough feedback, providing a positive learning experience. For example, I now know exactly how my pension works!

7.00pm: I send a progress report to the associate with regard to how much due diligence I have been able to complete. I then check in with the trainee I work with on the confectionary restructuring, to ensure that we have covered everything from the email chain, before I go to the gym.

About the firm

Chair: Leopold von Gerlach

Regional managing partner: Susan Bright

Other offices: Alicante, Amsterdam, Baltimore, Beijing, Berlin, Brussels, Budapest*, Colorado Springs, Denver, Dubai, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Houston, Jakarta*, Johannesburg, Louisville, London, Los Angeles, Luxembourg, Madrid, Mexico City, Miami, Milan, Minneapolis, Monterrey, Moscow, Munich, New York, Northern Virginia, Paris, Perth, Philadelphia, Riyadh*, Rome, San Francisco, São Paulo, Shanghai, Shanghai Free Trade Zone, Silicon Valley, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Ulaanbaatar*, Warsaw, Washington, D.C and Zagreb*. (* associated offices)

Who we are: We are Hogan Lovells: one of the world’s most established global law firms, solving some of the toughest legal problems in 48 international locations. The best part? We do it all as one team, seamlessly across continents, borders and time zones.

What we do: Together, our 2,600 lawyers tackle intricate legal and commercial issues for prestigious clients, covering corporate, finance, dispute resolution, government regulatory and intellectual property.

What we’re looking for: As a global law firm, we tackle some of the most complex legal and commercial issues for our clients. So we look to recruit smart, collaborative and determined individuals from all kinds of backgrounds and with all kinds of experience.

What you’ll do: Each year, we take on 50 graduates (from law and non-law degree subjects) as trainee solicitors. Here’s how it works: on a two-year training contract, you’ll do four six-month seats across our different practice areas. Plus, for one of those seats, you’ll have the chance to apply for an international or client secondment. You’ll also have hands-on support and the expert guidance you need.

Perks: Benefits include: bonus scheme, gym membership/subsidy, life assurance, pension scheme with company contributions, private healthcare, season ticket loan, subsidied restaurant, access to a dentist, doctor and physiotherapist, and discounts at local retailers.

Sponsorship: Maintenance grants are available for GDL and accelerated LPC. GDL is £7,000 outside London and £8,000 within London. LPC is £10,000.