Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Latham & Watkins

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Latham & Watkins

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘A blend of the quality of work available and a very positive experience whilst interviewing’, ‘the type of work the firm does – in particular the market-leading finance practice’, ‘the size of the trainee intake’, ‘large international presence’, ‘it has the Magic Circle’s quality of work in the UK but is internationally more reputable’, ‘the focus on diversity and inclusion’, ‘industry expertise, intake size and prestige’, ‘high NQ salary’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Very diverse and inclusive culture – I didn’t expect so much diversity’, ‘friendliness and approachability of more senior staff’, ‘the people’, ‘frequent training sessions and departmental talks, experience in high-value deals, intelligent colleagues’, ‘the calibre of the lawyers’, ‘the networks and professional group events’, ‘the departments are very flexible and do not operate in silos. They are always looking to cross-sell work to clients and get associates in different teams involved in work’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The work/life balance’, ‘hours and workload’, ‘the hours can be long and unpredictable but intense periods often occur in cycles’, ‘potential for long hours and fast-paced work’, ‘relative unavailability of international secondments – should be better considering the number of offices the firm has’, ‘the hours can be tough, but ultimately you do adapt and grow into them’, ‘the small likelihood of going on international secondment’, ‘that you have to do a banking seat’

Best moment? ‘Running client calls’, ‘working on a big transaction at bid stage in the first week of my seat and seeing it close in my final week in the seat’, ‘being the only junior on a deal and having the opportunity to draft some of the more high-level documents’, ‘helping with the negotiation of a non-disclosure agreement’, ‘speaking in client presentations’, ‘dealing with clients directly’, ‘drafting a witness statement with little support’, ‘finding a case that effectively nullified the other side’s claim’

Worst moment? ‘Being shouted at by opposing counsel’, ‘managing the verification process for two IPOs as the sole trainee’, ‘messing up signature pages in my first seat – partners had to get involved’, ‘reviewing hundreds of documents within a tight deadline’, ‘a deal that closed at 3am after two weeks of very late nights’, ‘feeling overwhelmed with work’, ‘last-minute work that needed to be done overnight’, ‘starting my training contract virtually’, ‘working weekends’

The Lex 100 verdict on Latham & Watkins

With a ‘large international presence and a good amount of high-profile work to get involved with’. Latham & Watkins is a major name in the transatlantic legal market. A Lex 100 Winner in three categories – job satisfaction, confidence in being kept on, and international secondments, the firm is ‘one of the fastest growing firms in London’. Latham & Watkins ‘has a range of practice-areas’, a strong emphasis on training and a ‘smaller intake’, allowing trainees to ‘get involved’. Trainees related that ‘the formal training sessions at the start of each seat are excellent’; another commented that ‘the resources available online are also very comprehensive. As such, I think the training rivals anything that I have heard from peers elsewhere’. Training is also ‘not silo-ed’ and you are ‘encouraged to attend training sessions at other levels and for related departments’. Winning the award for job satisfaction, it is no surprise that Latham & Watkins trainees have ‘a lot of responsibility and can take ownership over discrete workstreams’. Also there are ‘a range of events and socials to help trainees integrate into the firm which is especially important given remote working’. A common theme in feedback is praise for the firm’s culture and people: ‘the culture is very meritocratic and everyone I have met has been approachable and welcoming’ and ‘there is a great culture across the firm in terms of inclusiveness and working as a team to make life easier for everyone’. If you are looking for headline work, a small intake, and don’t mind the pressures that come with working at a top US firm, then Latham & Watkins is a firm to watch.

A day in the life of... Luke Vaz, second-seat trainee, Latham & Watkins

Luke Vaz, Latham & Watkins

Departments to date: Financial regulation, Banking

University: University of Cambridge

Degree: Human, social and political sciences

9.00am: I scroll through my emails on my walk in to work, catching up on anything that may have come in overnight and then making a mental note of things to do when I arrive at my desk. Living a 15-minute walk from the office (in Aldgate East) means you can wake up slightly later and avoid the tube. Living with two colleagues that double up as friends means that if one of them leaves at the same time as me, it’s a nice catch-up too.

9.15am: Arriving at my desk, I prioritise and make a note of the tasks that need completing this morning, and I update this to-do list through the day. Not only are these satisfying to tick off (best done theatrically in red pen), but they mean that nothing slips through the cracks; the best trainees are the ‘safe pair of hands’ that won’t let any document go unnoticed. The morning is a good time to order your inbox – in banking, email management is key to properly track deal progress. It’s vital to keep on top of all transactions. Latham teams are lean, but this means trainees get exceptionally good on-the-job training as they are expected to function like junior associates and take as much responsibility as possible.

12.45pm: It’s free lunch at the cafeteria provided by Trashed, a catering company promoting a low-waste attitude to food by using commonly discarded products and turning them into an appetising (and free) lunch. There’s one free lunch a month and it’s a good chance to catch up with some trainees over a delicious mutton curry with dirty rice and four different types of hummus. Latham has always championed diversity and its attitude to hummus is no exception!

1.30pm: Back at my desk, a solicitor calls to let me know that certain agreements have been signed and will be circulated shortly. Trainees are encouraged to be confident and speak to people of all levels, even partners, over the phone and by email. Often, giving someone a call rather than hiding behind an email will give instant results, and Latham encourages trainees to take autonomy over their respective parts of a deal.

4.00pm: I head to the 24th floor to have a meeting with graduate recruitment. In my role as trainee representative, I voice any concerns or queries from the two intakes either by email or monthly meeting. This week has been intense – people are choosing their next seats, so the trainees have many questions. It’s an informal chat but very productive, and coming back with answers can allay some anxiety about the process.

5.30pm: I am asked by an associate to have a first go at drafting some security documentation over the course of the week, but thankfully I am told it is not urgent. These are long-form documents and prove a more cerebral task. There is a precedent document and the firm has its own standard form, so comparing all three means I can easily see the nuances of each. Attention to detail is key, though associates are really understanding of the training contract’s steep learning curve, and feedback is crucial and common.

7.00pm: As I am winding down the day, I update my time entries. The intuitive programme allows you to keep stop-watches during the day depending on which client is worked for, so all that is needed is to describe what I was doing (short-form) for each task.

7.45pm: With my to-do list from this morning complete, I head home and keep an eye on my phone for any emergency emails that may come in during the course of the evening. Otherwise, I am free to relax knowing I can be contacted if needed urgently.

About the firm

Chair and managing partner: Richard Trobman

Office managing partner: Stephen Kensell

Other offices: Beijing, Boston, Brussels, Century City, Chicago, Dubai, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Madrid, Milan, Moscow, Munich, New York, Orange County, Paris, Riyadh, San Diego, San Francisco, Seoul, Silicon Valley, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Washington DC

Who we are: Latham & Watkins has more than 2,700 lawyers globally. Its non-hierarchical, collegiate management style and ‘one firm’ culture make Latham a unique place to work. Over 70% of the firm’s transactions involve five or more Latham offices and the collaborative atmosphere is strengthened by the firm’s diversity.

What we do: Latham’s award-winning London office is recognised for its work advising some of the world’s leading corporates, financial institutions and private equity firms on their most significant transactions, disputes, and regulatory matters

What we’re looking for: We are looking for outstanding people who have the potential to become exceptional lawyers. Initiative, enthusiasm, ambition, intellectual rigour and teamwork are some of the traits particularly valued at Latham. Trainees who demonstrate their motivation and ability to excel will thrive in a first-class training environment. We look for candidates who have a minimum of AAB at A-Level (or equivalent) and a 2(1) at undergraduate degree.

What you’ll do: We offer a training contract with real responsibility combined with comprehensive training and mentoring in an open and collaborative environment. Trainees spend six months in four different seats and have the opportunity to apply for a client or international secondment in their third or fourth seat. In addition to training organised by our learning and development team, trainees also benefit from a core three-week ‘trainee foundation’ designed to bridge the gap between law school and practice.

Perks: Life assurance, private health and dental insurance, pension scheme, season ticket loan for transport, cycle to work scheme, subsidised restaurant on site, discounted gym membership.

Sponsorship: GDL and LPC fees and a maintenance grant of £10,500 per year. For future trainees who have already completed the GDL and/or LPC, the firm will reimburse those fees in full. Future trainees who achieve a distinction in their LPC will receive a £500 bonus.