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 other? ‘I wanted to train in the London office of an American law firm’; ‘I liked that K&L Gates’ London office had the culture of a UK law firm, but with the benefits of working at an American firm’; ‘I had experience at a previous US firm as a paralegal’;. ‘the smaller intake was a big attraction’
Best thing about the firm? ‘Level of responsibility given to trainees’; ‘the small intake size combined with quite a high number of partners means that every trainee sits with a partner and is given a lot of responsibility’; ‘I am often working at the same level as an associate’; ‘I am seen as a key part of the team’
Worst thing about the firm? ‘Associate retention’; ‘several smaller teams are comprised of partners and trainees only, which can be very difficult as a trainee as you don’t have anyone you feel you can ask for advice from, or be supervised by’; ‘some long hours and late nights’
Best moment? ‘My supervising partner trusting me enough to accompany him to a client meeting to deliver a presentation. It was a real vote of confidence, and is a good representation of the level of direct exposure and responsibility you can expect at the firm’; ‘being given increasing levels of responsibility and independence’
Worst moment? ‘Staying into the early hours of the morning, not because I was working on an exciting deal, but because I simply had too high a workload to complete the work otherwise’; ‘working on holiday’
The Lex 100 verdict on K&L Gates LLP
The firm: K&L Gates is a fully integrated global law firm with lawyers located across five continents. Its broad global platform allows it to guide clients through the legal challenges inherent in the ever-changing international landscape.
With a small trainee intake and strong reputation, K&L Gates’ London office has ‘the culture of a UK law firm, but with the benefits of working at an American firm’. The firm has a good reputation for training, particularly one-to-one partner/trainee mentoring. One trainee identifies that ‘in addition to formal trainee training sessions, the firm is part of an Inn Group with other firms that organise training sessions. Most departments also run extra lunchtime training sessions that all trainees are encouraged to attend’. The training does ‘vary between practice areas’ but ‘trainees are seen as a key part of the team’ and often do ‘work of the same level as an associate’. That said, associate retention was a concern for some; another trainee commented that ‘several smaller teams are comprised of partners and trainees only, which can be very difficult as a trainee as you don’t have anyone you feel you can ask for advice from, or be supervised by’. Training highlights included ‘my supervising partner trusting me enough to accompany him to a client meeting to deliver a presentation’ and ‘being given increasing levels of responsibility and independence’. The firm is also known for its ‘compulsory pro bono programme with two initiatives: a legal advice centre, and an after-school homework club for less privileged children’. For an American firm in London with a strong training record, K&L Gates is one to watch.
A day in the life of… Ben Greene, trainee, K&L Gates LLP
Departments to date: Banking and asset finance; employment
University: University of York
Degree: Law, 2(1)
8.50am: I am currently working from home as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Before I start work, I make sure my workspace is clear and organised. This helps me to separate work and home life which is important.
9.00am: I read through my emails and put together a to-do list for the day. Many of our clients are based in the US and emails often arrive overnight. On Monday mornings, I meet with my team via WebEx. It’s a good opportunity to catch up with my colleagues and to talk through new work that has arrived. We discuss our current workloads and our head of department allocates (or reallocates) work depending on our capacity.
9.30am: A client has been served with an unfair dismissal claim. My supervisor instructs me to review the claim, consider its merits and start preparing a response. This requires some additional research into protected disclosures under whistleblowing legislation. I begin to construct a skeleton response which will be completed following a call with our client tomorrow. Ahead of our call, I prepare an initial list of questions for my supervisor who will lead the discussion. My role will be to take notes and ensure we have enough information to respond to the claim in full. My supervisor encourages me to speak up on the call if a particular area needs clarification.
11.30am: Another client has asked a question on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the ‘furlough scheme’). The Covid-19 pandemic has generated a significant volume of new legislation, policy and guidance, resulting in a busy and challenging time for employment lawyers. We have advised our clients on the operation of the furlough scheme, working from home and safe return to the workplace. The guidance changes quickly and, at times, is inconsistent, so I need to make sure I am aware of all the latest developments. I consider our client’s objectives, apply the current guidance to their scenario and draft an email setting out their options. I forward the advice to my supervisor for review.
1.00pm: During my lunch break, I take a quick walk down to my local park. It’s important to get outside while working from home; it helps me focus during the afternoon.
2.00pm: Our corporate team has been instructed on the acquisition of a large manufacturing business. The deal involves the transfer of 300 employees and the employment team has been brought in to assist. The transaction is now in the due diligence phase. I review a variety of employment-related documents, including service contracts and company policies, for red flags. I highlight any potential issues and discuss them with my supervisor before sending a report to our colleagues in the corporate team.
4.00pm: Another client is preparing for judicial mediation in order to settle a sex discrimination claim. I dial into a conference call with counsel and our client to discuss tactics for the negotiation. The aim is to settle the claim before it goes to the Employment Tribunal. My supervisor also attends the call. We discuss the merits of the claim, our client’s commercial objectives and the strategies most likely to achieve the desired result. After the call, I draft a COT3 in anticipation of a successful settlement; a COT3 is a legally binding agreement to settle actual or potential claims in the Employment Tribunal. I send the draft document to counsel for review.
6.00pm: I attend the Battersea Legal Advice Clinic after work with several other trainees. The clinic offers free legal advice to individuals on a pro-bono basis. Due to Covid-19 precautions, the clinic is operating remotely. I call two clients: one whose landlord won’t return a housing deposit and another whose employer has cancelled a holiday on short notice. I explain their legal position and advise them on their options. The clinic helps me develop my interviewing and advising skills and boosts my confidence speaking to clients directly.
About the firm
Managing partner, London, Brussels, Dubai and Doha offices and managing partner, Europe and Middle East: Antony Griffiths
Other offices: Austin, Beijing, Berlin, Boston, Brisbane, Brussels, Charleston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Doha, Dubai, Fort Worth, Frankfurt, Harrisburg, Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Miami, Milan, Munich, 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: Corporate, finance, funds, competition, real estate, construction, energy, IP, media, sport, employment, insurance coverage, litigation and international arbitration.
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: GDL funding: fees paid plus £5,000 maintenance grant. LPC funding: fees paid plus £7,000 maintenance grant.
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. Since 2010, K&L Gates has consistently been named a ‘Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality’ and a ‘Top Law Firm for Equality’ by the Human Rights Campaign after earning a perfect 100 score on their Corporate Equality Index survey, and we were honoured as a top achiever in advancing diversity within the legal profession by Microsoft’s Law Firm Diversity Program.
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 shares ideas and initiatives to support females in the workplace.
Most recently, the global women in the profession committee, along with our BD teams across the K&L Gates offices, has hosted internal and external International Women’s Day (IWD) events across the globe. This year, K&L Gates events focused on the IWD 2020 theme of #EachforEqual and the premise that every individual can help to create a gender-equal world. As part of the ‘Each for Equal’ theme, K&L Gates is encouraging employees, clients and friends of the firm to make pledges to encourage, support and embrace diversity and inclusion, recognising that small changes can make a big difference in the workplace.