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? ‘Quality of work available’; ‘good work/life balance’; ‘I chose to apply because of the firm’s strengths in the main areas of law I’m interested in’; ‘the amount of international offices’; ‘opportunities to engage in cross-jurisdictional work’; ‘US firm without the worst aspects of US firm culture’; ‘everyone was incredibly friendly during the assessment day and interview process’
Best thing about the firm? ‘Trainees are made to feel like an equal part of the team’; ‘the approachability of partners and supervisors’; ‘the monthly drinks trollies’; ‘the levels of responsibility and the interaction with clients from day one’; ‘great exposure to work’; ‘flexible working and no pressure to work from the office at all times’
Worst thing about the firm? ‘The lack of international secondments despite being a global firm’; ‘the recent office downsize’; ‘poor communication around the recent restructure’; ‘not having any break spaces or canteen’; ‘how quickly a team can get busy’
Best moment? ‘Being given a lot of responsibility on a high-value deal’; ‘completing on a huge deal that involved months of hard work and long hours’; ‘meeting like-minded intelligent individuals’; ‘preparing for and attending a two-week widely-publicised High Court trial’; ‘having my opinion respected in intense situations and seeing my ideas reflected in the final work product’
Worst moment? ’31 hours straight in the office’; ‘bundling’; ‘due diligence review into the early hours of the morning for weeks on end’; ‘seat changes are done very last minute’; ‘having to deal with a particularly difficult client with no support’; ‘receiving criticism on a letter when I had no experience’; ‘waiting for work late at night’
The Lex 100 verdict on K&L Gates LLP
The firm: US firm K&L Gates has a global presence and much of the firm’s work is international in scope. The full-service firm operates across many industries and the client base comprises global corporations, SMEs, public sector entities and educational institutions, among others.
The deals: Acting for Federated Investors on its £259.9 million acquisition of a 60% interest in Hermes Fund Managers Limited, a London-headquartered investment management company, from BT Pension Scheme; advising Furla on clearance and IP strategy for new product collections and acquisition of IP rights for limited edition products, collaborations and licensing projects; advising on the development, construction and financing for the Syvash Wind Power Project in Ukraine; advising PUMA on a wide range of commercial, regulatory and litigation matters; acting for Andrew Tinkler in five separate proceedings arising out of a highly publicised boardroom dispute between him and the Board of the Stobart Group.
The clients: Crossrail; Deutsche Bank; Faroe Petroleum; Formula 1®; Halliburton; Nuveen Real Estate; PING Europe; TFL; Thomas Pink; WWE.
The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Brand management; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Construction (contentious); Debt capital markets; EU and competition; Financial services; Fintech; Flotations: small and mid-cap; Fraud: civil; Fraud: white-collar crime; Gaming and betting; Health and safety; Infrastructure (including pfi and ppp); International arbitration; Islamic finance; M&A: mid-market, £50m-£250m; Mining and minerals; Oil and gas; Partnership; Property finance; Retail funds; Securitisation
Many chose to work at K&L Gates due to its ‘global presence and the range of high-quality domestic and international work’. The firm’s ‘small trainee intake’ was equally attractive and created ‘a community feel in the London office’, in spite of the firm’s global platform. Compared to some other firms, it is felt that trainees at K&L Gates have ‘vastly more client contact and responsibility’, which in turn makes them feel like ‘valued members of the team and department as a whole’. Yet, this ‘more hands-on’ approach can lead to ‘less supervision and feedback’. The ‘inclusive, friendly atmosphere’ is encouraged by the partners’ ‘open-door policy’, creating a ‘supportive working environment’. Applicants praised the ‘excellent supervisors and very responsive HR teams’ and appreciate that ‘people genuinely want to see you grow and succeed’. However, respondents were unhappy about the technology at the firm, in particular the IT systems. Seat change procedures also caused frustration. Recently losing social space and meeting rooms was a concern felt by many in light of an office restructure. Nevertheless, the level of responsibility new recruits receive allows them ‘a real part to play in some very high-profile and exciting matters’. This is bolstered by ‘the effort supervisors invest to ensure the context of cases is understood’, which shows that trainees opinions are respected at K&L Gates. Although recruits enjoy seeing their ideas reflected in the final work product, the hours can be very long. If you’re looking for a US firm with ‘excellent training’ and are interested in global work, then K&L Gates may be the firm for you.
A day in the life of… Andrew Poole, trainee, K&L Gates LLP
Departments to date: Investment management, Banking and asset finance
Degree: History, 2(1)
9.00am: I get into the office around 9am to get some breakfast from the firm canteen and catch up on emails that have come in overnight. I have been working on deals involving clients across a wide range of time zones, so there are usually a few things on my to-do list straight away!
9.30am: We are working on a due diligence exercise as part of an Islamic finance transaction and have received responses to our list of follow-up questions to the client. I review the responses and insert the new information into the due diligence report before discussing the new report with the partner supervising me and an associate from our Doha office. Islamic finance is a completely new practice area for me but it’s great to know I can go to the partner overseeing the matter with my (many) questions. As trainees, we are constantly encountering new practice areas and unfamiliar tasks. Partners and associates at the firm understand this and always urge us to ask questions about the deals we are working on.
10.30am: I have been asked by my supervisor to draft a guarantee as part of an aviation finance transaction. The majority of my seat has been spent working on aviation finance matters and it’s rewarding to now be responsible for drafting a key transaction document. As part of a small trainee intake, we are quickly integrated into our respective departments and take on real responsibility from day one. We have frequent opportunities to gain invaluable experience and develop critical legal skills.
12.00pm: A deal I have been working on is now ready to complete, so my supervisor and I join the closing call to finalise the refinancing of a private jet. This was one of the first deals I started working on during my seat, so it’s satisfying to see it through to completion. The call ends and I collate and date the transaction documents before circulating them to all parties who are pleased to get this deal across the line.
1.00pm: I go for lunch with a few of the other trainees at the firm canteen. We take advantage of the weather and head up to the roof terrace overlooking St Paul’s. There aren’t too many better places in London to have lunch and catch up.
2.00pm: After lunch, I sit down with my supervisor to discuss the guarantee I drafted earlier. Receiving detailed feedback is vital for a trainee and the comments I receive are always constructive and focused on my development. I amend the guarantee following my supervisor’s comments and send it out to the client for their review.
4.30pm: One of the finance partners briefs me on a new aviation finance matter that will be starting in the next few days. The partner and I discuss my role on the transaction and I take the opportunity to make sure I understand the transaction structure and timeline. I look over the initial documents to identify any initial issues, before sending an email to the client with our comments and questions.
6.30pm: I leave the office to play five-a-side for the firm football team. It’s a great way to socialise with the other trainees and associates. After a resounding victory (extremely rare), I quickly check my emails before heading to the pub with the rest of the team.
About the firm
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, London, 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 is a fully integrated global law firm with lawyers located across five continents. Our broad global platform allows us to guide clients through the legal challenges inherent in the ever-changing international landscape. K&L Gates represents leading global corporations in every major industry, capital markets participants and ambitious middle-market and emerging growth companies. Our lawyers also serve public sector entities, educational institutions, philanthropic organizations, and individuals. We are leaders in legal issues related to industries critical to the economies of both the developed and developing worlds – technology, manufacturing, financial services, health care, and energy, among many others.
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, funds, antitrust, competition and trade regulation, public policy, real estate, planning and environment, intellectual property, media and sport, construction, energy, infrastructure and resources, insurance coverage, regulatory, tax, employment, immigration, 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: We have a thorough induction scheme consisting of weekly legal education seminars, workshops and a full programme of skills electives. Emphasis is placed on early responsibility and client contact. Pro bono and CSR activities are also encouraged.
Perks: Subsidised sports club membership, season ticket loan, permanent health insurance, life assurance, GP service, employee assistance programme and pension.
Sponsorship: GDL fees paid, plus £5,000 maintenance grant, LPC fees paid plus £7,000 maintenance grant.