Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Mayer Brown International LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Mayer Brown International LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Unrivalled top-quality training’; ‘the firm’s reputation’; ‘cohesive culture’; ‘everyone is genuinely friendly’; ‘excellent vacation scheme’; ‘the people at the firm are very approachable and will take the time to explain things to you’; ‘secondment opportunities’; ‘I wanted to work for a US firm’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Wide variety of practice areas’; ‘we are encouraged to attend seminars and talks outside of the comprehensive seat-specific training programme’; ‘the responsibility is there if you wish to take it’; ‘trainees receive excellent exposure to clients’; ‘the working culture’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘NQ salary isn’t so competitive’; ‘we have interesting clients but they’re not always the most demanding’; ‘the unpredictable hours in some departments’; ‘everyone has desktops which is archaic and means that anything unexpected that might crop up requires coming back into the office’

Best moment? ‘When a client called me personally to instruct me in a new matter’; ‘being responsible for drafting a training session and participating in delivering the session to the client’; ‘being appreciated and included in client meet-ups’; ‘closing dinner with clients’; ‘going to court alone with counsel in my third month of my first seat’; ‘taking the lead on negotiating smaller agreements’

Worst moment? ‘Sorting through boxes of 20-year-old client files on my own on Saturday’; ‘doing basic trainee work such as cross-reference checks’; ‘working 260 hours in one month’; ‘when it is quiet and there is not much to do’; ‘sitting by myself for the first three weeks of my first seat’; ‘having to stay late to get documents out’

The Lex 100 verdict on Mayer Brown International LLP

The firm: Mayer Brown is a global law firm with offices in major cities across the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The firm advises large corporations, including many Fortune 100 and FTSE 100 companies and more than half of the world’s largest banks.

The deals: Acted for Touchstone Innovations in connection with its takeover by IP Group, which was conditional on Phase 1 clearance by the CMA; advising Unilever CITIC Telecom CPC on the worldwide merger control aspects of its acquisition of the telecommunication assets of Linx Telecommunications; advised AllLife (PTY), a South African insurance firm offering technology providing prospective policyholders instant quotes, on its collaboration with a UK-based insurer for a novel product aimed at individuals diagnosed as diabetic; acted for Sinarmas Land, an Indonesian real estate development firm, on the £130m acquisition financing of 33 Horseferry Road by OCBC Bank; defending allegations of negligence and dishonesty made against two BDO partners in relation to the administration and sale of a hotel.

The clients: Arm Holdings; Citi; Costain; Hachette, Investec; Morgan Stanley; Perrigo; PricewaterhouseCoopers; Royal Institute of International Affairs; Société Générale.

The star performers (top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details): Acquisition finance; Asset based lending; Banking litigation: investment and retail; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Construction; Debt capital markets; Derivatives and structured products; Emerging markets; Employment: employers and senior executives; Financial services (contentious); Flotations: small and mid-cap; Insolvency and restructuring; Insurance and reinsurance litigation; M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+; Mining and minerals; Pensions; Professional negligence; Property finance; Securitisation

The verdict

The training at Mayer Brown ‘is far superior to other firms’. Many chose the international firm because of its ‘small trainee intake’ and the ‘guaranteed client secondments’. Respondents were pleased that ‘partners and associates delivered training sessions’ and felt that ‘the training given at the beginning of each seat complemented the in-seat training received on a daily basis’. The approachability of colleagues meant that new recruits were ‘learning loads from the get-go’ as the firm ‘listens to trainees’ seat preferences and is very transparent about the process’, making the work more enjoyable. It comes as no surprise then that ‘the retention rate is high’ as the ‘in-depth foundation training’ certainly pays off. Additionally, the ‘quality of work is exceptional’ with ‘offices in all financial capitals’ covering ‘broad areas of expertise’. However, many felt that there was ‘little emphasis on cutting-edge technology’. The long hours were also unpopular, but this is department dependent and ‘expected in an international commercial law firm’. Hence, ‘late nights and weekends in the office’ sometimes feature. Best moments included ‘closing a multi-billion dollar transaction’, ‘working on deals with only the partner’ and the ‘continuous client contact’ that newbies experienced. Evidently, ‘challenging and rewarding work’ was enjoyed by many, as Mayer Brown encourages individuals to take on responsibility. The firm is a Lex 100 Winner in five categories: international secondments, vacation scheme, confidence of being kept on, quality of work and living up to expectations. If you want to work for a firm that ‘recognises hard work’ and ‘gives you everything you need to progress quickly’, consider Mayer Brown.

A day in the life of… James England, trainee solicitor, Mayer Brown International LLP

James England, Mayer Brown International LLP

Departments to date: Banking and finance, client secondment, corporate

University: University of Portsmouth

Degree: Law with Business, 1st

8.00am: Mayer Brown recently adopted an all year round casual dress policy, so I put on a pair of jeans and a shirt then travel to work (I keep a suit at the office for meetings).

8.30am: I normally arrive a little early and pick up breakfast and a coffee from the canteen. The office is quiet first thing, so it’s a good time to do admin, respond to emails and prioritise tasks before things get busy.

9.00am: My supervisor arrives – we joke around for five minutes, before discussing the status of the three deals we are working on together. One of these we are advising on is a refinancing of a luxury hotel in Mayfair.

9.15am: Our leveraged finance team has received a new instruction to represent the lender in a leveraged buy-out, in which the borrower will use the money to fund an acquisition. I’ve been assisting an associate to prepare the first draft of the loan agreement and spend an hour or so inputting changes into the draft.

11.00am: The training programme at Mayer Brown is comprehensive, with regular sessions designed to develop our legal and commercial skills. Today we have an external speaker coming in to talk to us about London’s position in global financial markets.

12.30pm: I review some amendments that have been proposed to the terms of an intercreditor agreement. I discuss these with my supervisor and we agree on our response. I then email the client to set out our advice.

1.00pm: I step out for lunch with the trainees in my intake – our offices are really well located opposite Old Spitalfields Market, so there are lots of good food options on offer. We have a relatively small number of trainees for a firm of our size, so all of the trainees across each intake know one another pretty well.

2.00pm: I have been working with our project finance team on a Kazakh mining deal and have been asked to chair an all parties’ call. The purpose of the call is to run through the conditions that need to be satisfied before the lender (our client) will make the funds available to the borrower.

3.15pm: I review a set of board minutes and shareholder resolutions to check that these have been prepared correctly. I mark up my comments, ready to discuss with the associate on the deal the next morning.

4.30pm: I have been helping a partner prepare a presentation he is giving on Brexit and derivatives contracts to a global insurance company. I spend some time doing some research into areas that haven’t been covered and make some amendments.

6.30pm: The banking and finance team has a drinks trolley event to welcome a new associate who recently joined, which means tools down for an hour – this is a great time to socialise with the associates and partners in the team; we usually have one or two a month.

8.00pm: I update my to-do list before shutting down, then head out for dinner in East London with friends.

About the firm

Senior partner: Sally Davies

Other offices: Bangkok, Beijing, Brasilia (T&C), Brussels, Charlotte, Chicago, Dubai, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York, Palo Alto, Paris, Rio de Janeiro (T&C), San Francisco, São Paulo (T&C), Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Vitória (T&C), and Washington DC.

Who we are: Mayer Brown was one of the first law firms to develop a global platform in response to clients’ increasing need for high quality technical expertise for integrated, cross-border matters. Today, we are one of the world’s leading international business law firms. With approximately 200 lawyers in each of the three largest financial centres – New York, London and Hong Kong – we are uniquely positioned to advise the world’s leading companies and financial institutions on their most complex deals and disputes. Through our offices across the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, and our association with Tauil & Chequer Avogados (T&C), we field diverse teams of lawyers who work together seamlessly to deliver excellence for our clients.

What we do: Our lawyers have expertise across a wide range of areas including corporate, finance, real estate, litigation (including dispute resolution, construction, insurance and reinsurance, antitrust and competition), white collar crime, investigations, employment, pensions, tax, restructuring and insolvency, financial services regulatory, and intellectual property.

What we’re looking for: We are looking for candidates who not only have a consistently strong academic record including a minimum of a 2.1 degree (predicted or obtained) in any discipline, but also who have a wide range of interests and achievements outside their academic career. Additionally, we would like to see innovative candidates who can demonstrate a drive for results, good verbal and written communication skills, and an ability to analyse, with good judgement and excellent interpersonal skills.

What you’ll do: One of the advantages of joining Mayer Brown is the choices available to you. As a trainee at the firm, you will be able to tailor your training contract across a broad range of seats, including our main practice areas in London (as listed above), and international secondments. If you don’t want to stray too far, you have the option to gain valuable in house experience by going on secondment to one of the firm’s major clients.

Sponsorship: The firm will cover the cost of the GDL and LPC and provide a maintenance grant. The firm asks all LPC students to complete the LPC at BPP law school in London.