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? ‘I wanted to work for an American firm’; ‘the promise of high-quality work’; ‘I really liked the Harvard programme they offered associates’; ‘the pay is really good’; ‘excellent training’; ‘I was drawn to the practice areas, particularly the finance and strong litigation teams’; ‘the people are approachable and willing to teach’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Trainees have input on substantive work’; ‘the training sessions are helpful and well-spaced throughout the training contract’; ‘my colleagues and the quality of work’; ‘the work is challenging and interesting’; ‘the firm’s commitment to giving trainees a lot of responsibility’; ‘the flexibility to have fun’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The hours’; ‘there are limited social events’; ‘unpredictability of workload’; ‘doing urgent late night tasks’; ‘weekend work is part of the job’; ‘having to work in line with US working hours’; ‘due to the small size of the firm, we have limited support resources’

Best moment? ‘Finding a flaw in an arbitration agreement which helped a client’s case’; ‘working with senior colleagues and being complimented for my work ethic’; ‘attending closing meetings’; ‘preparing for trial’; ‘celebrating with clients and closing dinners’; ‘work on really exciting matters’

Worst moment? ‘I once worked a 17-hour day’; ‘inserting mark-ups’; ‘City law firm hours’; ‘being asked to help for an hour but it turning into an all-night task’; ‘getting conditions precedent in place at 3am on the morning of a closing’

The Lex 100 verdict on Milbank LLP

The firm: Milbank’s London base is the second largest in the firm’s global network of offices. It is home to over 100 lawyers who provide English and New York law advice on UK, pan-European, Asian, African and other global matters, both transactional and contentious.

The deals: Advised Terra Firms on the sale of Dublin-based aircraft lessor AWAS to Dubai Aerospace Enterprise; acted for Goldman Sachs as part of a syndicate of lenders, on the £425m term facility, £50m term acquisition facility, and £60m super senior revolving credit facility in connection with Bridgepoint’s £750m acquisition of Zenith Group Holdings; advised K-Exim and other commercial banks on the financing of the four-unit Barakah nuclear power project in Abu Dhabi; advised African Development Bank on the restructuring of the financing for the Moma Titanium Mineral Sands project in Mozambique; represented Avanti Communications Group plc in $1bn senior funding facility from funds managed by HPS Investment Partners.

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

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Asset finance and leasing; Banking litigation: investment and retail; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Corporate restructuring and insolvency; Emerging markets; International arbitration; Infrastructure (including PFI and PPP); IT and telecoms; M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+; Mining and minerals; Oil and gas; Power (including electricity and renewables)

The verdict

Milbank boasts a ‘rigorous training programme, top-notch lawyers, and market-leading work’. This attracted many applicants who appreciated the small intake and wanted to work for a US firm which would give them ‘international-focused work’. The recent 100% retention rate also encouraged individuals to apply and respondents found ‘the quality of lawyers at the firm inspiring’. Many enjoyed working with ‘motivated bright colleagues’ who ‘go above and beyond to engage with trainees and help them get the most out of their seats’. Moreover, the small intake allows new recruits the opportunity to develop relationships with supervisors. Newbies were pleased they received ‘real work’ and thus were ‘truly adding value’ to the team. This is reflected in Milbank’s status as a Lex 100 Winner for client contact, quality of work and salary. Conversely, alongside this impressive offering come ‘long hours’, such as ‘very late Friday nights/Saturday mornings alone in the office’. This is, however, acknowledged as generally being a ‘City law firm issue’. Respondents also grumbled about the ‘lack of secondment opportunities’ and suggested that the firm ‘should strive for more socials’. On the other hand, trainees find high-level working ‘really rewarding and exciting’ and highlights include ‘taking part in a trial’ and ‘working on my first closing’. As for pro bono, this ‘is encouraged and taken very seriously’ at Milbank and trainees appreciate the variety of opportunities available. If a ‘fast and challenging environment’ appeals to you, apply to Milbank.

A day in the life of… Hollie Fenwick, second year trainee, Milbank LLP

Hollie Fenwick, Milbank LLP

University: University of Warwick

Degree: English Literature, 2(1)

8.30am: I start my day by reading the financial news on my phone during the tube journey to the office in the morning in preparation for a team meeting later; as trainees, we’re encouraged to maintain our commercial awareness and keep up to date with the market trends in our practice areas.

9.00am: I arrive at the office and check my emails, ready for the day ahead. Once settled, the first thing I do is call some lawyers that we’re working with in Singapore and Malaysia; we are expecting to receive some documents, so I try to catch them before the end of their working day – working across different time zones requires careful time management. All my deals in Leveraged Finance have an international element, and often involve teams in Asia, America and Europe. I flag some key emails I can identify as important and update my to-do list for the day.

10.00am: I head to the already busy kitchen to grab a coffee – the morning rush is a great opportunity to quickly catch up with a few fellow trainees.

10.15am: I attend a conference call in my supervising associate’s office. We act for the lenders and the aim is to run through the status of the deal with the borrowers counsel as there are various conditions required to be fulfilled before closing the deal. During the call, I help update the parties with the status of several documents and take detailed notes of updates we receive in return.

11.45am: Following the call, I update my checklist which allows us to keep track of the status of the deal. I circulate this to my supervisor and the rest of my team, so that everyone is aware of our progress and the status of the deal is clear. This is really important as sometimes there are a lot of documents to keep track of. Taking responsibility for areas of a deal can be slightly unnerving at first. However, with the readily available support of your supervisor and team, you soon find yourself enjoying the challenge.

12.00pm: I attend a weekly group lunch with my team, where we discuss the week’s market developments and review our individual capacities for the week ahead. I express interest in assisting an associate on a new deal which has come in – the loan refinancing of company behind a satellite launch. We set up a meeting tomorrow morning to discuss my potential role in the transaction.

1.30pm: After lunch, I finalise a draft share charge; a security document required in another deal. Drafting is one my favourite tasks – it’s satisfying to receive good feedback and see a document which you had a major role in developing being sent out to the parties.

4.00pm: I attend an afternoon training session on contract law held by a senior partner in the firm. This is good opportunity to network with other junior lawyers across the firm and enhance my understanding of general contractual principles. Some of the drafting exercises are complicated, but I come away from the session with a greater understanding of recent case law.

5.30pm: During the afternoon I register a series of charges on Companies House, as part of a security package for a deal which signed last week. It can be tricky to ensure the necessary documents are received and the registrations are completed within the required timeframe, alongside managing your everyday work. It’s nice to be able to delete the deadline reminder from my online calendar.

7.00pm: After work I head to the gym to train for a 5k race before meeting friends for dinner. Milbank has a team participating and I don’t want to let the side down!

About the firm

Senior partners: Julian Stait, Suhrud Mehta

Other offices: London, New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul, Frankfurt, Munich, Sao Paulo

Who we are: Driven to deliver exceptional results for our clients, we push boundaries and challenge assumptions. That’s been core to our ethos since our founding in 1866. It fuels how we work and define ourselves, and it informs our growth and evolution as a firm.

What we do: We’re tenacious lawyers driven to solve your toughest legal challenges. That means harnessing the minds, expertise and specialties from across the firm that are needed for your unique challenges. We’re committed to delivering tailored solutions that exceed our clients highest expectations.

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 work in small teams and are given responsibility from day one. Working directly with associates and partners, our trainees are an integral part of their team in each seat. The benefit of our select intake is that our trainees get exposure to high quality work and receive first class training and supervision throughout their training contracts.

Perks: Benefits include private medical, private dental, GP service, life insurance, permanent health insurance, corporate gym rates.

Sponsorship: Future trainees are fully sponsored through the GDL and LPC if recruited prior to beginning their course. We offer a maintenance grant of £8,000 per year for the GDL and LPC.