Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Jones Day

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Jones Day

Why did you choose this firm over any other? ‘Unique non-rotational training system’; ‘small trainee intake’; ‘ability to harness my training contract and shape it how I wanted’; ‘large American firm, international presence, well-paid, small trainee-intake, calibre of work’; ‘open-door policy, flat hierarchy’; ‘the freedom provided by the non-rotational system to both try a range of practice areas as well as spend more time in preferred areas’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Non-rotational system – ability to choose what work you want to do’; ‘choosing the work you do’; ‘the international nature, almost every matter you work on is likely to have an international focus and you get to work with colleagues in other offices very often’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Can sometimes be opaque in how it handles things i.e. qualification’; ‘the inability to get off certain matters due to the non-rotational contract’; ‘lack of guidance on how choices are made for qualification by departments’; ‘looking for work and not being able to find it’; ‘inconsistent work’; ‘the nature of the training contract can see your hours swing from extremely busy to zero’

Best moment? ‘Washington conference’; ‘working directly with senior partners as part of a small team on a complex matter’; ‘completing a public takeover’; ‘seeing through an M&A deal from start to completion’; ‘running my own individual aspect of a deal without being micro-managed by my supervisor’; ‘when the tax partners approached me to help them with work’; ‘playing a crucial role in a billion-pound corporate deal’

Worst moment? ‘An all-nighter following a week of very late finishes’; ‘being left to carry out a completion without clear instructions’; ‘feeling like you have too much responsibility’; ‘completing on a real estate finance transaction’; ‘two all-nighters in a row’; ‘coming into work at 9am for a second consecutive completion after a 5am finish the night before’

The Lex 100 verdict on Jones Day

Perennial big-reputation US firm Jones Day approaches its training contract differently from others through its ‘non-rotational scheme’. Unlike competitor firms, trainees here are not placed within a specific department but take on different kinds of work throughout their training from multiple departments. One trainee comments that this structure results in the ‘ability to harness my training contract and shape it how I wanted’. This style of training comes with ‘greater flexibility and control over your career and development’ at the expense of controlled supervision in a particular seat, as in the more traditional model. Trainees also comment on ‘the associate-level work’ given to them and having ‘more responsibility’. One trainee found that ‘partners are more approachable and I don’t have to spend months in a seat that I detest’. This system suits resilient, resourceful and proactive trainees; as one comments ‘it really is a unique training environment and it is up to the individual trainee to determine whether it is a good place to train or a bad one. For the majority I think the experience is positive but it certainly is not for everyone’. Jones Day receives two Lex 100 Winner awards for the amount of client contact and financial remuneration. The firm has a small intake and a ‘personal application process’ as well as a working culture where ‘at all levels, people are approachable, professional and switched-on’. If you are looking to customise your training contract and are resilient in the face of limited feedback, Jones Day could be a great fit.

The firm: Jones Day is a global law firm with more than 2,500 lawyers in 43 offices across five continents. The 200 London-based lawyers (including around 60 partners and 35 trainees) collaborate with their colleagues from Jones Day practices and offices across the globe to guide clients through their toughest legal challenges. The distinctive, non-rotational training system provides flexibility and early responsibility. Jones Day trainees assume their own workload and work across different practice areas simultaneously.

The deals: Represented Mastercard International Inc in its successful appeal seeking confirmation that damages claims brought by the UK retailer Dixons Retail Group Limited are in principle time-barred for the period 1992-97; advised Global City Theatres BV, (GCT), the largest shareholder of Cineworld Group plc (Cineworld), Regal in the US, as lead counsel on its debt refinancing and related capital market aspects; representing Alaska Airlines Inc in defending a UK High Court claim brought by Virgin Group regarding a trademark licence agreement under which Virgin licensed the VIRGIN brand to the US airline Virgin America, Inc (now part of Alaska Airlines); advised Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division and the Wellcome Trust on the sale of iQ Student Accommodation to Blackstone for £4.66bn (US$5.73bn), representing the largest ever private real estate transaction in the UK; advised long-standing client J.F. Lehman & Company, a leading middle-market private equity firm focused exclusively on the aerospace, defense, maritime, government and environmental sectors, in connection with the acquisition and related financing of Global Marine Group. 

The clients: British Land; Blackstone Group; Mastercard; CBRE; Hansteen Holdings; Goldman Sachs; London Metric; Koch; True Capital Ltd; Greystar.

A day in the life of… Sabina Adascalitei, second-year trainee, Jones Day

Sabina Adascalitei, Jones Day

University: University College London University of Bucharest

Degree: Law; LLM

8.45am: I usually arrive at Blackfriars station and meet some of my fellow trainees for a quick breakfast downstairs at the Jones Day Café 21. I then head to the morning training session; today’s is on a merger control case study. It’s great to hear specialists talk about their area of practice and understand how, as trainees, we can add value to one of their transactions. Afterwards, I go back to my desk to check my emails and make a list of things to do, which I update throughout the day.

10.30am: I start doing research for an upcoming submission on an arbitration case that I am working on and as I identify relevant points, I include them in an internal memo that I am preparing for a meeting later today.

12.00pm: Given the structure of the non-rotational training system at Jones Day, I work with other teams and departments simultaneously. In addition to the arbitration case, I am also working on a corporate matter, representing a fund investor. I attend a team meeting with the partner and associate to go through a summary of the legal issues that we need to consider in light of various partnership agreements, after which I draft a few additional sections in a table to reflect our discussion. We have a US law-specific query and so we reach out to one of our colleagues in the Chicago office for their advice. The firm is fully integrated so it is very easy to liaise with colleagues from any office.

2.00pm: I head out to lunch with others from my trainee cohort. We often eat together and use this opportunity to catch up and share our experiences. Given that we all studied on the LPC together, lunch is always very relaxed and we chat about things like TV shows, weekends and holiday plans – not just work!

3.30pm: Back at my desk, I finalise the arbitration research memo before I head to a meeting with the entire team. One of my colleagues and I are preparing the first draft of the legal argument for the partner’s review and having regular team meetings to discuss the legal issues helps us structure our argument. At Jones Day it’s not unusual for trainees to work directly with partners – the flat hierarchy is one of the things which attracted me to the firm. I love learning from a variety of people, many of whom have a huge wealth of experience. I really enjoy the responsibility that is given to me, even as the most junior member of the team, so early in my career.

4.15pm: On the way back to my desk I pop into the associate’s office to see whether there are any outstanding tasks on the corporate matter today. I enjoyed the firm’s open-door policy from the early days of my vacation scheme and I am experiencing the same as a trainee. We received an answer from our US colleague and so we go through it together. I ask the associate a few further questions about the process and we spend some time discussing it. This is the first corporate matter I have worked on and the associate has taken the time around her busy schedule to take me through the more complex issues step by step.

5.00pm: There is a witness interview with the entire team on the arbitration case. Partners from some of our US offices dial in along with the team in London. My role is to take notes in preparation for the witness statement and the associate has encouraged me to have a go at the first draft. I arrange to update her tomorrow on my progress.

7.00pm: I review my notes and then send them to the team ready to pick up tomorrow. I also jot down any other imminent tasks. I have complete autonomy over my workload and the variety this allows for suits my working style. With support, I feel trusted to carve my own career path early on at Jones Day.

8.00pm: I sign out for the day and head to Covent Garden for dinner.

About the firm

Managing partner (London): John Phillips

Other offices: 42 offices across five continents.

Who we are: Jones Day is a global law firm with more than 2,500 lawyers. The firm is distinguished by: a singular tradition of client service; the mutual commitment to, and the seamless collaboration of, a true partnership; formidable legal talent across multiple disciplines and jurisdictions; and shared professional values that focus on client needs.

What we do: Jones Day clients are guided through their constantly changing and increasingly complex legal and regulatory challenges by a wealth of insight and skills from our lawyers in London, a magnet for multijurisdictional transactions and disputes relying on English law for their documentation and resolution.

What we’re looking for: It doesn’t matter to us whether you are a graduate, postgraduate, or coming from a different career, which university you went to, or whether you read law or not at university. We seek the best and recruit to retain. Academic achievements are important: we expect at least a 2(1) university degree. But we are equally as interested in the person you are and the lawyer you can become. We want our trainees to have understood and enjoy our distinctive, non-rotational training system, the global nature of our work and our culture.

What you’ll do: The firm operates a distinctive, non-rotational system of training in which trainees can work across different practice areas at the same time and influence their own mix of work. This allows for early responsibility and faster development of potential. At Jones Day we give our trainees two years of real responsibility.

Perks: Free gym, subsidised café, private healthcare, season ticket loan, group life cover, salary sacrifice schemes and personal pension.

Sponsorship: PGDL and LPC paid, plus £10,000 maintenance grant per year of study. Fast-track LPC for sponsored students (mid-August to end-February) with a six-month gap before training starts in September.


 Emily Stew, Hiring partner

‘Jones Day’s commitment to diversity does not stop with recruitment. We are committed to making meaningful progress on diversity in the legal profession; to increasing diversity within the firm; and to recruiting, retaining and promoting the best talent, from all backgrounds. In London, our initiatives include, among others, affinity groups, bringing together employees with shared experiences or backgrounds to provide support, training and networking opportunities; our Aspiring Professionals Programme, working directly with state schools in under privileged neighbourhoods to help students from under-represented and low-income backgrounds gain access to leading universities and enter careers in global professional businesses like Jones Day; partnerships with charities providing internships and training students and graduates from ethnic minority backgrounds; a contextualised application process to help us better identify candidates with true potential regardless of circumstance; and our Legal Apprenticeship Programme, one of the first in the City of London, offering high-achieving candidates the opportunity to enter the workplace straight from school and qualify as solicitors, without the burden of university debt. We are proud of our accomplishments and we remain unwaveringly committed and optimistic about the firm because of our people, who allow us to tap the true potential of our global organisation.’

 Yvette McGee Brown, Partner-in-charge of diversity, inclusion and advancement

‘Jones Day enthusiastically endorses diversity and diligently pursues it. Diversity improves us and helps deliver the service our clients expect. By mentoring and promoting diverse colleagues we leverage the unique strength of our exceptional lawyers, while enhancing the atmosphere of our firm.’