Survey Results - Trainee feedback on K&L Gates LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on K&L Gates LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘I was really impressed with the firm during my vacation scheme’, ‘the small trainee intake’, ‘it works in the areas I was interested in whilst studying: insolvency, property and banking’, ‘the firm is known for being American and having access to international work, but also having a strong London base due to the legacy firm’, ‘I liked the emphasis on trainees taking ownership and responsibility of matters’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Everyone is approachable, understanding and looks out for each other’, ‘the approachability of the teams and the willingness to explain things to you when you have a question’, ‘exposure to clients and partners’, ‘the high levels of responsibility and high-quality work’, ‘I often find myself liaising with lawyers from offices across the globe’, ‘I’m encouraged to take on responsibility and treated like an associate’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Seat rotations and internal NQ jobs are announced relatively late’, ‘when it gets busy the hours can be quite long’, ‘there is an increasing emphasis on billing, time-keeping and utilisation, rather than training and development’, ‘occasionally, feedback from partners and supervisors is not immediately forthcoming, although a simple email asking for feedback is always welcome’

Best moment? ‘A six-month client secondment at a top Fortune 100 company’, ‘working with one senior associate on a complex project financing matter’, ‘being asked to go to client drinks by one of the partners I work for and being roundly congratulated for doing a good job’, ‘working directly with a partner and counsel to settle an unfair dismissal and sex discrimination claim by judicial mediation’

Worst moment? ‘The first few weeks – starting virtually and having to learn so many new processes, systems and applications’, ‘a few stretches where I worked long hours and weekends’, ‘accidentally filing too many Land Registry documents at a cost of £300’, ‘completely messing up and having to work into the early morning to fix it – I’ll never make that mistake again’, ‘partners giving me only secretarial tasks or tiny matters’

The Lex 100 verdict on K&L Gates LLP

With an established ‘international presence and a high quality of work typical of a US firm, combined with a really friendly culture and good work/life balance’, K&L Gates is highly sought after for training. One trainee highlights that they ‘liked the small intake, the emphasis on trainees taking ownership and responsibility of matters and the variety of practice areas’. The level of attention paid to each trainee is reflected in their regular inclusion in the firm’s major work. As one comments, ‘the small intake means that you feel like an integral part of a team, as you’re often the only trainee in the department’. Trainees experience a ‘high level of responsibility compared to some peers and, overall, work fewer hours and late nights than at some other US firms’. In terms of formal training, the firm is also praised: ‘training within departments is good – there is always a push to run know-how sessions and lunchtime training on legal updates, etc. Trainees from all departments are usually invited so it’s a good way to get insight into areas you’re interested in’. Negatives include late nights and challenges involved with working from home, but trainees say that the firm has been very supportive. Client secondments prove very popular with one describing it as ‘a great opportunity to develop my legal knowledge and a range of soft skills, particularly around communication and messaging’. K&L Gates also offers top-level work with international scope: ‘the quality of work is brilliant and colleagues often lean heavily on trainees, so you can find yourself taking on an important role in some really interesting projects’. If you are looking for small-sized teams, with high responsibility and an international flavour to your training, then K&L Gates is one to watch.

The firm: K&L Gates is one of the largest law firms in the world with more than 40 offices located in key capital cities and world commercial and financial centres across five continents. At K&L Gates, we foster an inclusive and collaborative environment across our fully integrated global platform that enables us to diligently combine the knowledge and expertise of our lawyers and policy professionals to create teams that provide exceptional client solutions. We marry process with vision, success with dedication, and method with passion.

A day in the life of… Maddy Williams, trainee, K&L Gates LLP

Maddy Williams, K&L Gates LLP

Departments to date: Corporate, Commercial construction, Litigation and commercial dispute resolution, Banking and asset finance

University: University of Exeter

Degree: English Literature, 2(1)

7.00am: Due to Covid-19 restrictions, we are currently working from home. Instead of a commute, I head out for an hour on my bike to cycle laps around a local park. Once we return to the office, I am hoping to cycle to work rather than taking the tube.

8.30am: Working at a law firm with offices located all over the globe means that a lot of the work you are involved in as a trainee is multi-jurisdictional. Therefore, I start the day by working through any emails that I have received from other jurisdictions overnight. I filter any relevant information or tasks into my to-do list.

9.00am: My final seat is in banking and asset finance. I am currently working with two associates and a partner on the sale and leaseback of a number of aircrafts. I will be leading a call today with the client to discuss the conditions precedent to be satisfied before the transaction can complete. I read through and update my notes on the conditions precedent checklist and have a quick call with one of the associates before we speak to the client.

10.30am: On Tuesdays, we have a banking and asset finance team meeting via WebEx. Everyone in the team joins to catch up and to discuss the work that we have been doing that week. Every other Friday, a different member of the team also gives a presentation on a transaction they have been involved in or on an area of law which is of particular interest to them.

11.00am: I exchange emails with a partner on the lease of an asset and reach out to our colleagues in another jurisdiction for local law advice on a specific element of the transaction. I receive further instructions from the partner and start drafting a number of ancillary documents for his review.

1.00pm: I break for lunch at 1pm. In the office, trainees and associates sit together at lunch time in the office canteen or outside on the terrace. When working from home, we regularly have trainee catch-ups over WebEx or training sessions at this time. Today, I don’t have anything planned, so I go for a walk and buy a coffee from a local coffee shop.

1.45pm: I have been assisting a partner with a real estate finance matter. Today, a number of key transaction documents need to be executed, which I will issue to the client via DocuSign. I prepare signing instructions and virtually tab where the client should sign, before sending out the documents for execution.

2.15pm: I turn back to my to-do list and work my way through the tasks listed. This includes a research task, drafting a number of smaller documents and reviewing an updated draft of a document for a banking matter. I check my inbox regularly and respond to several emails.

5.00pm: We have a call with a law firm on another aviation matter to negotiate the terms of an aircraft lease agreement. After the call, the partner calls me and we discuss various points. We agree that I will mark up the draft agreement to send to him the next day.

7.00pm: I check with my supervisor and other team members that there is nothing urgent I will need to work on this evening. As Covid-19 restrictions have now been relaxed slightly, I head out to meet my friends for a picnic.

About the firm

Managing partner: Antony Griffiths (managing partner, London, Brussels, Dubai and Doha offices and managing partner, Europe and Middle East).

Other offices: Austin, Beijing, Berlin, Boston, Brisbane, Brussels, Charleston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Doha, Dubai, Fort Worth, Frankfurt, Harrisburg, Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Luxembourg, Melbourne, Miami, Milan, Munich, Nashville, Newark, New York, Orange County, Palo Alto, Paris, Perth, Pittsburgh, Portland, Raleigh, Research Triangle Park, San Francisco, São Paulo, Seattle, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei, Tokyo, Washington DC, Wilmington.

Who we are: K&L Gates fosters an inclusive and collaborative environment across its fully integrated global platform.

What we do: K&L Gates is active in the areas of corporate/M&A, capital markets, private equity, restructuring and insolvency, banking and asset finance, structured finance, derivatives, aviation, debt capital markets, Islamic finance, funds, financial services regulation, antitrust, competition and trade regulation, public policy, real estate, planning and environment, intellectual property, technology transactions, construction, energy, infrastructure and resources, insurance coverage, regulatory, tax, employment, litigation, international arbitration, investigations, enforcement and white-collar crime, plus other forms of dispute resolution.

What we’re looking for: We are looking for highly motivated, intellectually curious individuals with an interest in commercial law, looking for comprehensive training.

What you’ll do: A thorough induction scheme, emphasis is placed on early responsibility and client contact. Pro bono and CSR activities are encouraged.

Perks: Subsidised sports club membership, season ticket loan, permanent health insurance, life assurance, GP service, cycle to work scheme, employee assistance programme and pension.

Sponsorship: SQE sponsorship amount: TBD.

Diversity and inclusion

Our commitment to diversity goes far beyond rhetoric and initiatives. We strongly believe we build better teams, forge better client relationships and provide better customer service because of our diverse team of professionals.

We seek and welcome the talents of those from different age groups, genders, identities, races or cultural backgrounds. These are the threads that make up the fabric of our firm. For the 11th consecutive year, the Human Rights Campaign awarded K&L Gates a 100% score in the organisation’s 2021 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), and named the firm a ‘Top Law Firm for Equality’. We have frequently been named a ‘Top Performer’ by the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD). The designation recognises active LCLD member corporations and law firms who have dedicated the most time and energy to participating in LCLD programmes and supported its mission of creating a more inclusive legal profession. Our firm has also been awarded a United States Gold Standard Certification by the Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF) for a ninth time, recognising the high levels of success by the firm’s women as partners and leaders. K&L Gates LLP, along with longtime firm client Amazon, also recently received a 2020 Corporate Pro Bono Partner Award from the Pro Bono Institute’s (PBI) Corporate Pro Bono project for their joint contributions in support of Mary’s Place, an organisation providing shelter and services to women, children and families in their journey out of homelessness.

One of K&L Gates’ core values as a law firm is to create and sustain a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture that encourages satisfaction, productivity and open communication. By way of example we have a diversity and inclusion committee in London, who meet every month to plan events, and share and communicate ideas and office initiatives. Everyone in the committee, from junior employees to partners, has a voice at the table. We also have a global women in the profession committee that regularly shares ideas and initiatives to promote gender equality within our firm. We also have a BAME group in our London office that is in the process of delivering several initiatives. This includes a reverse mentoring initiative to help educate non-BAME colleagues on the issues experienced by BAME colleagues. This also includes collaborating with RARE, a tracking system for social mobility which provides contextualised data for consideration as part of the recruitment process and Pirical, a third party company that undertakes independent BAME benchmarking of the firm’s performance on recruitment, retention and promotion compared to other London law firms.

The firm also has various employee resource groups at the firmwide and local office levels, including groups for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ+) employees and allies; lawyers of colour; working parents; veterans; and lawyers with disabilities. All these groups work with firm management to drive change at all levels and to ensure that diversity, inclusivity and gender equity, in line with our values, remain top of mind for our firm. These committees help to advance initiatives across our entire platform.

Most recently our firm started a series of firmwide initiatives, Conversations about Race, to continue to reject racism and social injustice and reaffirm our unwavering commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. This series of initiatives acknowledges the impact institutional racism plays in our society and focuses on ways we can systemically change and address the needs of our black and other diverse colleagues, allies and supporters. This includes an educational toolkit, an ongoing speaker series, and a firmwide pro bono effort focused on securing and protecting civil rights, civil liberties and public rights.