Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Milbank LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Milbank LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘It is a small firm with a small intake but without sacrificing quality of work’; ‘the Milbank@Harvard programme’; ‘it invests in regular training sessions for associates of all levels’; ‘small trainee intake’; ‘interesting work and a nice culture’; ‘prestige’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The people are welcoming’; ‘everybody knows each other (collegiality)’; ‘many of the firm’s partners and senior associates are gurus in their respective fields, but are just as approachable and sociable as juniors’; ‘the people’; ‘great exposure to client work’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Bad/inconsistent hours (some trainees will work extremely hard throughout the training contract, whilst other will not work as much)’; ‘the lack of international secondment opportunities for trainees (although there are only eight of us)’; ‘the expectations are very high, which can be stressful’

Best moment? ‘When I assisted in getting a first draft of a document out in under a week and received an email from the partner in charge saying thank you’; ‘firm events – including the European retreat, Christmas/summer parties and trainee socials’; ‘helping to manage a transaction and bringing that transaction to its close on the originally scheduled date’; ‘a positive review I received recently’

Worst moment? ‘Making errors in a document before passing it to senior associates who picked up on them’; ‘late nights in the office when I didn’t feel well’; ‘working until the early hours of the morning’

The Lex 100 verdict on Milbank LLP

The firm: Driven to deliver exceptional results for clients, Milbank pushes boundaries and challenge assumptions. That’s been core to its ethos since its founding in 1866. It fuels how it works and defines itself, and it informs the growth and evolution as a firm. Milbank keeps impressive company. Its clients are market leaders, global innovators and paradigm-shifting entrepreneurs that advance emerging industries. Surrounding itself by the best inspires and challenges it to constantly reimagine what’s possible.

The deals: Advised the banks on US$4.525bn bank/bond financing of the take-private acquisition of leading mobile satellite services provider Inmarsat plc by a consortium of funds; represented Visa in the UK Supreme Court in three appeals concerning allegations of infringements of English and European competition law in relation to multilateral interchange fees associated with the use of Visa and MasterCard branded debit and credit cards; acted for a group of subordinated bondholders in respect of the very contentious restructuring of German heat manufacturer Galapagos Heat Exchange Group; advised BlackRock and KKR on their landmark partnership with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) in connection with a $4bn midstream pipeline infrastructure agreement to form a new entity called ADNOC Oil Pipelines, with BlackRock and KKR acquiring a 40% stake and ADNOC retaining a 60% majority stake; acted for the Ad-Hoc Group on all aspects of Nyrstar’s restructuring, which resulted in its deleveraging. 

The clients: Astellas; Credit Suisse; Goldman Sachs; Husky Energy; JBIC; Rabobank; Standard Chartered Bank; Terra Firms; Visa; Wilmington Trust.

The verdict

‘Exposure to interesting work thanks to a small trainee intake’ was a major draw for those applying for a training contract at Milbank. The firm ‘consistently shows commitment to the continued development of its lawyers, from trainee level upwards’. Milbank@Harvard, a programme whereby junior associates from the firm’s offices worldwide attend a week-long course at Harvard University, was a particularly enticing prospect. Lex 100 Winner awards have been scored for the firm’s vacation scheme and salary. Training is ‘hands-on’ and is ‘tailored to the level of responsibility the trainee is happy to take on – the firm allows you to function as a “mini associate” if you want to’. That said, the learning curve can be steep and the expectations high, which can make for some stressful moments. ‘Long hours and the uncertainty of knowing whether you will have to cancel plans’ are things candidates should take into account, with trainees reporting ‘a couple of months on the trot during which I didn’t leave before midnight’ and ‘staying until 2.30am in my second week’. On the upside, ‘you won’t stay up late printing or photocopying here – if you’re in late you will be doing proper work’, such as ‘helping to manage a transaction and bringing it to its close on the originally scheduled date’. The best thing about Milbank is that ‘everybody knows each other’ and, even better, although ‘many of the firm’s partners and senior associates are gurus in their respective fields, they are as approachable and sociable as the juniors’. Trainees also praised the events, especially ‘the European retreat, Christmas and summer parties and trainee socials’. For ‘prestigious work but in a friendly environment’, research Milbank.

A day in the life of… Jasmin Ash-Briggs, trainee, Milbank LLP

Jasmin Ash-Briggs, Milbank LLP

Departments to date: Project finance

University: University of Bristol

Degree: Law 2(1)

8.15am: Before lockdown, I would usually now start my commute into the office. Since working from home, I have breakfast and catch up on the news, particularly any financial or business updates.

9.00am: I sit down at my desk and check my emails to prepare for the day ahead. In project finance, most of the deals have an international element, with multiple parties operating from different countries. This means that there is always something to catch up on in the morning, due to different time-zones.

9.15am: My day officially starts with a team catch-up call. This involves everyone sharing their workload expectations for the day, and whether you have capacity to take on any additional work. After the call, I make a note of interesting deals that were mentioned and reach out to see if I can offer any assistance. While working from home, it is important to get involved as much as possible so as not to miss out on any training.

9.30am: I start updating an article on electricity regulation that I have been researching for a partner. The article was originally published a few years ago, so there is quite a lot of work to do to update the facts and figures. I didn’t know a lot about electricity regulation before working on the article, so this is a good chance to learn more about a different area of law.

11.15am: I go for a short walk down the road to enjoy the sunshine and get a juice from my local coffee shop. I then prepare for a training session on termination of contracts. These training sessions take place every few weeks and are a great opportunity to brush up on legal knowledge.

12.30pm: I join a call on a project which is undergoing a restructuring. We act for the lenders and tend to have a call once a week to run through updates and obtain feedback. I take detailed notes on the call, as I will be responsible for drafting a memo to send out to the client summarising what was discussed. I enjoy drafting these memos as it helps to cement my understanding of what was agreed between the parties and how the project is going to progress.

1.30pm: I go downstairs to get some lunch. At the office, this would usually involve going to one of the many shops and restaurants nearby. Although working from home means losing out on socialising, one of the main benefits has been saving money on food!

2.00pm: I spend some time reviewing a document that an associate has asked me to proofread. I highlight any errors and amend a few mistaken clause references. Attention to detail is a key skill needed at any level, so reviewing documents as a trainee is a good way of practising what to look out for.

3.00pm: I conduct a client interview for a new pro bono matter. This is my first time leading a call, and I find it exciting to be trusted with so much responsibility. I run through a list of questions that I have prepared and note down the client’s answers. I forward my notes to the supervising partner, and we agree to catch up later in the week to formulate a plan.

4.00pm: After a quick tea break, I return to my desk to finish drafting a memo setting out the minutes of the call I attended earlier. I send this to my supervising associate, who will review it and make any amendments needed before forwarding it to the client.

6.00pm: I take part in a Zoom quiz which has been organised by the London office. This is a great way to socialise with other people from the firm and test out my general knowledge. Sadly, our team didn’t win, but it was fun participating and a good opportunity to see everyone’s faces (virtually).

About the firm

Managing partners: Suhrud Mehta and Julian Stait

Other offices: New York, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Frankfurt, Munich, São Paulo, Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo.

Who we are: For over 150 years, Milbank has provided innovative legal solutions in many of the world’s largest, most complex, ‘first-ever’ corporate transactions and disputes. Milbank’s clients are prominent multinational financial, industrial and commercial enterprises, governments, institutions and individuals.

What we do: Capital markets/securities; corporate/M&A/private equity; executive compensation and benefits; financial restructuring; global leveraged finance; litigation and arbitration; energy and infrastructure finance; structured finance and securitisations; tax; technology and outsourcing; transportation and space.

What we’re looking for: We’re looking for candidates who not only have strong academics – you should also possess excellent interpersonal and problem-solving skills. Candidates will need to be ambitious, intellectually curious and have a genuine interest in our practice areas. You should also have (or be predicted) a 2(1) or above in any degree discipline.

What you’ll do: Our trainees are an integral part of our growth plans for the London office. Our training contract consists of four six-month seats. Trainees will typically be expected to undertake seats across our corporate, finance and litigation practices. In addition, we offer comprehensive training to help develop your technical and practice group-specific knowledge in addition to training on key communication, career management and presentation skills.

Perks: A comprehensive range of benefits, including private medical insurance, in service life insurance, permanent health insurance, dental plan and a season ticket loan, will be confirmed when candidates receive their formal offer.

Sponsorship: Trainees who are yet to complete the LPC and GDL will have their course fees paid in full and will also receive an annual maintenance grant while studying the LPC and GDL.

Diversity and inclusion

Decades ago, we recognised the value of promoting a variety of voices – we were one of the first major firms to establish a diversity and inclusion committee, in 1992.

We believe that a diversity of backgrounds, experiences, cultures, ethnicities, abilities, gender identities, sexual orientations and ages bring perspectives that benefit our attorneys and our clients.