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 others? ‘Welcoming and pleasant atmosphere’; ‘I wanted to work for an American firm’; ‘the lawyers I met at networking events seemed like people I would like to work with’; ‘I like that I am completely in control of the practices I would like to experience and can work in a variety of areas of law’; ‘lack of face-time culture’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Quality of the work’; ‘the level of trust you are given’; ‘small intake’; ‘the people’; ‘the salary’; ‘getting your own office as a trainee’; ‘seeing matters from start to finish, and not getting moved off just when things start to get interesting’; ‘seeing your work in the press’; ‘amazing junior associates who are happy to mentor’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The lack of formal supervision/instruction’; ‘the nature of the non-rotational system means senior lawyers generally assume a high level of prior knowledge when you start a matter, this can be difficult to deal with’; ‘the balancing of work capacity amongst the trainee cohorts’; ‘the prices have gone up in the canteen’; ‘the lack of international secondments’

Best moment? ‘Completing the biggest deal of the year with a great team’; ‘pro-bono opportunities’; ‘attending a settlement mediation and seeing all the dynamics of a negotiation play out first-hand after months of correspondence’; ‘attending a hearing in Paris’; ‘being appointed tribunal secretary on a commercial arbitration’; ‘helping save a company that was about to go under and reading about it in the news the next week’

Worst moment? ‘All-nighters’; ‘consistent long nights and weekend work’; ‘having to do some work on holiday’; ‘indexing’; ‘being very unwell and having to come into the office because the team were going on holiday’; ‘staying up until 5am working on a piece of work only for the partner to not look at it for a week’

The Lex 100 verdict on Jones Day

The firm: “Jones Day is a global law firm with more than 2,500 lawyers in 43 offices across five continents. Our 200 London-based lawyers (including around 60 partners and 40 trainees) collaborate with their colleagues from Jones Day practices and offices across the globe to guide clients through their toughest challenges. Our distinctive, non-rotational training system provides flexibility and early responsibility. Jones Day trainees assume their own workload and work across different practice areas at the same time.”

The deals: Represented True Capital Ltd in connection with its investment in FunnelAI, a software platform that uses artificial intelligence to find online indications of intent for businesses looking for customer prospects; advised The British Land Company PLC on the disposal of 12 superstores held by a joint venture between BL and J Sainsbury PLC to Realty Income Corporation; advised EagleTree Capital, L.P. in connection with the acquisition by portfolio company Northstar Travel Media, LLC of Centaur Media Travel and Meetings Ltd; advised L1 Retail in the £900 million (US$1.1 billion) senior financing in connection with the acquisition of Holland & Barrett; acted for MasterCard Incorporated in a lawsuit brought by various UK retailers seeking £450m in damages for losses allegedly suffered.

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

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Asset based lending; Banking litigation: investment and retail; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Corporate restructuring and insolvency; Corporate tax; Debt capital markets; EU and competition; Fraud: civil; Intellectual property; International arbitration; IT and telecoms; Private equity: transactions – high-value deals; Private funds; Property finance; Public international law; Real estate funds; Regulatory investigations and corporate crime; Trade finance

The verdict

What makes Jones Day unique is its non-rotational training contract, which means ‘your training experience is individual and flexible’. The ‘intake size’ swayed many applicants, as did the vacation scheme and the people trainees worked with, who convinced them to apply. Many feel that the nature of the training contract affords them more responsibility and independence, complimenting Jones Day’s ‘flat hierarchy’. The lack of formal training allows individuals to ‘take ownership of their work’, and many enjoyed the flexibility and control that brought. Feeling trusted made trainees happy, as this allows them to gain more experience in areas in which they are interested. In comparison to some other firms, respondents felt that they were ‘essentially doing associate-quality work’, but noted that the ‘learn-on-the-job approach’ meant ‘less supervision and less structure’. This level of independence requires resilience, especially because there can be a ‘lack of visibility over your workload’. Recruits least enjoyed ‘the late nights and weekend work’ and ‘bundling’. On the flip side, best moments included a ‘trip to the New Lawyers Academy in Washington’, ‘participating in an arbitration hearing’ and being trusted ‘with the same level of work as 3-4 year qualified associates’. Jones Day also boasts a high salary, earning the firm a Lex 100 Winner medal in this category. Participants commended the firm’s ‘great culture and atmosphere’ with many rating the ‘approachability of partners and associates’ as one of the best things. If you want the ‘freedom to focus on areas that interest you’, consider Jones Day.

A day in the life of… Vanessa Partridge, first-year trainee, Jones Day

Vanessa Partridge, Jones Day

University: University of Warwick

Degree: French Studies with Italian

9.10am: I usually arrive at Blackfriars station around this time and join some of the others in my trainee intake for a quick breakfast or coffee downstairs in the Jones Day Café 21. We regularly meet to start the day, whether just to catch up or attend our regular training seminars which take place over breakfast. When I get to my desk I read through my emails and make a list of things to do for the day.

10.00am: I meet with one of the partners in the arbitration team to run through the information we need to obtain from a witness we will be interviewing later on. Yesterday I prepared a bundle of documents we will refer to during the interview and the team builds their strategy around that.

10.30am: Our client witness arrives at the office and I join the meeting; my role is to take notes which will form the basis of the witness statement. At Jones Day you are given plenty of responsibility early on and fortunately I have built a good relationship with both the client and partner, to the extent I am able to interject with my own questions from time to time. Often in litigious matters where there are several moving parts, the trainees are closer to the detail and it is our job to ensure that nothing is missed. This level of responsibility was something I enjoyed about the firm from the earliest days of my vacation scheme.

11.45am: Following the meeting, I type up my notes for the team debrief later today.

12.00pm: Given the structure of the non-rotational training system at Jones Day, I am able to work with other departments, not just arbitration, in parallel. I am one of several trainees assisting on a corporate matter, reviewing service agreements and distribution contracts for ‘red-flags’. It relates to the possible acquisition of a well-known technology company, and as trainees we are responsible for highlighting provisions in the documents that may be of concern to our client, the potential acquirer.

1.45pm: I head out to lunch on Fleet Street with one of the associates. The relaxed office environment means there is no hierarchy between trainees and associates, and I use this opportunity to ask for some advice about the witness statement I will be drafting later this week, on the back of this morning’s meeting.

2.30pm: I pop in to one of the banking associate’s offices after lunch to give her a copy of an opinion letter she asked me to draft. I ask a few questions about some of the provisions I am unsure of and she gives me feedback on what amendments could be made. Back at my desk I make some changes and email her an updated version.

3.30pm: There is a conference call with the entire team for the arbitration matter. Partners and associates from the Washington office dial in. The London partner and I update them on the progress made in the meeting this morning and discuss any new information that has come to light which helps our client’s case. I let them know I will be making a start on the draft witness statement tomorrow and some of the team suggest key points that should be emphasised in my drafting.

5.45pm: I head downstairs to the gym to get changed for pilates. The firm organises pilates and yoga classes during the week. It’s a great way to factor exercise into my schedule, even when I’m very busy, as it’s on site.

7.00pm: I review a few more of the corporate documents back at my desk to make tomorrow’s load a little lighter. I like that we are given the freedom to manage our own workload and balance tasks from different practice areas at once. I enjoy learning from multiple lawyers with different expertise.

7.30pm: I sign out for the day and head to Shoreditch to meet some friends for dinner.

About the firm

Partner in charge – London: John Phillips

Other offices: Continental Europe, Asia, US, Latin America, Middle East, Asia Pacific.

Who we are: Jones Day is a global law firm with more than 2,500 lawyers in 43 offices across five continents. 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: Our 200 London-based lawyers collaborate within the U.K. and across our worldwide offices, to guide clients through the most demanding and complex global matters, including cross-border M&A, real estate, and finance transactions, as well as regulatory issues involving the U.K., U.S., and other authorities.

What we’re looking for: Successful candidates want to work on global deals and become part of our future – not just qualify with us; are predicted (or have gained) a 2(1) in any degree discipline; have strong intellectual and analytical ability as well as good communication skills; and demonstrate resourcefulness, drive and dedication. 60% of our current trainees are non-law graduates and 35% were graduates or postgraduates when they applied to us.

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. This allows for early responsibility and faster development of potential.

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

Sponsorship: GDL 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.