Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Prestige’; ‘small trainee intake’; ‘high-quality work’; ‘the culture at Morgan Lewis is extremely collaborative – you work with so many people within your department, as well as those in other departments’; ‘the strong female leadership at both a firmwide and office level is very significant’; ‘small cohort of trainees’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The exposure to and quality of work’; ‘the approachability of the partners and associates means that you get to learn a lot about the deals you are working on, which are themselves are incredibly interesting’; ‘fun people’; ‘there isn’t a culture of facetime here, not that I have observed anyway!’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The only slight downside has been when my department has been a little quieter’; ‘there are firm drinks on the last Thursday of the month which are great, but beyond that the social life is a little quieter in comparison to some other firms’; ‘lack of clarity about how key decisions are made’; ‘unpredictable workload’

Best moment? ‘Hanging out with my supervisor’; ‘conducting some really interesting research which other members of the team found to be useful’; ‘attending an arbitration hearing for a matter I had been working on’; ‘receiving good feedback from a client’

Worst moment? ‘Quiet periods without much to do’; ‘the feeling of confusion when you change seats and are back to square one in terms of not knowing the inner-workings of a new department’; ‘I had a bit of a slow start to my first seat’; ‘managing competing workloads’

The Lex 100 verdict on Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

The firm: With 31 offices across North America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, Morgan Lewis provides comprehensive corporate, finance, transactional, regulatory, litigation, investigations and dispute resolution services to clients ranging from emerging businesses to global public companies and across all major industries.

The deals: advised Prudential plc, a London-based international financial services group with stock exchange listings in London, Hong Kong, Singapore, and New York, in an offering of $1bn in aggregate principal amount of 3.125% notes due 2030; advised Nasdaq-listed Yandex NV, one of Europe’s largest internet companies and a leading tech business in Russia, in its $1.25bn convertible senior notes offering due 2025; advised luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent on its acquisition of the UK business of Cox & Kings, one of the oldest travel companies in the world; advised the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos) on a $150m sovereign bond offering; advised US investor Alpha Energy on the acquisition of Third Energy’s onshore gas exploration and production assets.

The verdict

At Morgan Lewis, a small trainee intake combined with a small London office means that recruits ‘end up being involved quite centrally in a lot of the work and have a great awareness of what everyone else is working on’. The work, which some deem to be of the ‘same quality as that of the Magic Circle’, is ‘hugely diverse in terms of clients, industries, and deals themselves, and often involves a cross-border element’. There are also international secondments on offer and the firm has a Lex 100 Winner award in this category. Partners and associates ‘seem to be a lot more approachable’ than at some other firms and ‘are always willing to take the time to answer questions and explain anything you don’t understand’. Moreover, there is very little face-time culture: ‘once you have asked everyone else in your team if there’s anything you can help with, you aren’t expected to hang around for the sake of it’. All this while still receiving a salary worthy of a Lex 100 Winner award. The downside of being part of small teams is that ‘you’re likely to be the only trainee with knowledge of the matter and can sometimes be required to work long days’. Some recruits would like to see a busier social calendar too, although we are assured nonetheless that ‘the people are fun’! Recruits particularly enjoyed ‘working on a time-sensitive settlement agreement to a case being argued across multiple courts and jurisdictions’ and ‘attending an arbitration hearing’. Worst moments were few and far between but most centred on ‘the feeling of confusion when you change seats and are back to square one in terms of not knowing the inner-workings of a new department’. For ‘good pay, good hours and good people’, research Morgan Lewis.

A day in the life of… Ben Rouse, first-year trainee, Morgan Lewis

Ben Rouse, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Departments to date: Litigation, Structured Transactions

University: University of Bristol

Degree: History

8.45am: I arrive at my desk and review my to-do list for the day. I am currently working on one arbitration involving a US client and one case due to go to trial in a few months. There are always developments and I find myself having to alter my priorities constantly. I get a coffee and chat to one of the litigation partners about the Morgan Lewis partner conference that he recently attended.

9.00am: I continue working on the witness statements that we are putting together for an upcoming hearing. My supervisor has asked me to create the first draft of the witness statements based on notes I took during our initial meeting with the client a couple of weeks ago. These drafts will then be checked by my supervisor before being sent to the client for review.

10.30am: I attend a team meeting with the two associates and a partner involved in one of our cases, and we discuss preparations for the upcoming case management conference. There is quite a bit of work to do ahead of the hearing, but the team is fully prepared and confident of hitting all the relevant deadlines.

1.00pm: I meet some fellow trainees for lunch in the office canteen. It is great to get a chance to catch up with the other trainees and hear about their experiences in the other departments.

2.00pm: My supervisor invites me to a meeting with the barristers working on one of our main cases and an expert who may be recruited to provide expert evidence at the trial next year. It is interesting to see the QC grill the expert to test whether he is up to the job of providing expert testimony in court.

3.30pm: I circulate the main points from the meeting to the rest of the team. I then receive feedback from my supervisor on the witness statements that I was working on earlier in the day. Based on this feedback, I make amendments to the documents and draft an email to the client which includes the documents that we have created and an explanation of the work we have done.

4.30pm: I receive an email from the firm’s HR department about a mentoring scheme that is being piloted at the firm. I then chat to one of the associates about the scheme and their experience of being involved in it. Groups including a mixture of trainees, associates and partners are put together and asked to meet up on a regular basis to discuss their experiences at the firm and any issues that they might be facing.

5.30pm: I exchange emails with our barristers’ clerk about the folders that need to be prepared for next week’s hearing. I then liaise with our document production centre to make sure that we get the folders, including about 6,000 pages, prepared in time.

7.00pm: I finish some research that I have been conducting for one of the partners about the new capped costs scheme being piloted by the English courts, and I send over my findings. I tie up any loose ends from the day and head home.

About the firm

Senior partner: Jami McKeon (global)

Managing partner: Frances Murphy (London)

Training principal: Lisa Cargill (London)

Other offices: 31 globally (see website for full list)

Who we are: At Morgan Lewis, we work in collaboration around the world – always ready to respond to the needs of our clients and craft powerful solutions for them. From our offices in strategic hubs of commerce, law, and government, we work with clients ranging from established, global Fortune 100 companies to enterprising startups.

What we do: Morgan Lewis’s London office offers a wide range of business and commercial law services, including: competition; corporate; data protection and cyber security; debt and equity capital markets; finance and restructuring; labour and employment; investment management; outsourcing and technology; structured transactions; tax; and dispute resolution. Morgan Lewis has a strength in a number of business sectors, including life sciences, financial services and technology.

What we’re looking for: Morgan Lewis is seeking candidates with a consistently strong academic record, including a minimum of AAB at A Level (or equivalent) and a 2(1) (predicted or gained) in their undergraduate degree. We look for a range of prior work experience, volunteering and extra-curricular activities. In particular, we are looking for candidates to show us their commercial awareness, team spirit, resilience and passion for a career in law.

What you’ll do: Trainees complete four six-month seats over the course of the training contract. They can expect to receive high-quality, challenging assignments and the opportunity to work directly with senior lawyers across a range of practices and industry groups. The work will be varied, complex, and will most likely involve working across a variety of jurisdictions.

Perks: 25 days’ holiday p/a, life assurance, private medical and dental insurance, long-term disability insurance, season ticket loan, pension, cycle to work scheme, employee assistance programme and the option to take qualification leave at the end of the training contract.

Sponsorship: Candidates who have accepted a training contract offer with Morgan Lewis will receive a maintenance grant of £10,000 (paid in instalments), as well as the full payment of fees for both the GDL and LPC. The firm does not provide retrospective funding for law school fees or maintenance grants.

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