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

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Opportunities to take on responsibility’; ‘the culture’; ‘the small but growing nature of the London office’; ‘the vibe of my interviewers’; ‘the firm’s ambition for growth’; ‘strong funds practice’; ‘focus on pro-bono work’; ‘small trainee intake’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The quality of work’; ‘people are friendly and approachable’; ‘the high level of responsibility you get early on’; ‘the office location’; ‘the level of trust that is placed on you as a trainee, and the fact that there is no ‘face time’ culture’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Disorganised administration’; ‘office politics at the higher levels of the firm’; ‘there is an expectation that personal weekday plans will be cancelled (as a trainee)’; ‘some late nights’; ‘limited ability to choose your next seat’; ‘the workload can be quite unpredictable’

Best moment? ‘Doing amazing pro-bono work’; ‘going on secondment’; ‘project managing a client’s Brexit project (in support of a partner taking the substantive decisions) and receiving really great feedback from the client’; ‘having direct contact with clients and fund counsel, via phone and email’; ‘receiving good supervision’

Worst moment? ‘Working all major holidays without a break’; ‘ having to attend virtual training that finished at 9.30pm as it was geared for US time zones’; ‘being asked to stay until 3am in order to photocopy hundreds of documents’

The Lex 100 verdict on Morgan, Lewis & Bockius UK 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 Sainsbury’s on the most substantial antitrust appeal in the UK to date; advised Silversea Cruises in an investment by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd; advised Wells Fargo on the financing to LK Bennett; advised Connect Airways Limited on the acquisition of flybe.

The clients: Connect Airways Limited; Sainsbury’s; Silversea Cruises; Wells Fargo.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Asset based lending; Bank lending: investment grade debt and syndicated loans; Banking litigation: investment and retail; Commercial litigation; Corporate tax; Debt capital markets; Emerging markets; Employment: employers and senior executives; EU and competition; Immigration: business; Insurance and reinsurance litigation; International arbitration; M&A: lower mid-market deals, £50m – £250m; Oil and gas; Securitisation

The verdict

Morgan Lewis & Bockius boasts strength in ‘finance and litigation’ and is a firm ‘where partners and associates are genuinely friendly’. With ‘an ambition for growth’, the US firm attracted recruits with the offer of ‘international opportunities’ and ‘high-quality work’. The firm’s ‘commitment to its people’ also impressed applicants and they respect ‘partners’ sincere passion for their fields’ which makes even ‘tedious tasks more enjoyable’. Many recruits work directly with partners due to the small intake, but this means that ‘sometimes trainees are overstretched’, leading them to perceive the culture as ‘more intense’ than at some similar-sized firms. Another disadvantage felt by recruits is that ‘limited formal training is given’, and instead, individuals adapt to ‘learning through practical experience’. Newbies didn’t enjoy working ‘long hours’ and ‘the expectation to cancel weekday plans for work’. However, one recruit notes that ‘although trainees seem to have a worse work/life balance, we are remunerated accordingly’. This compromise has earned Morgan Lewis & Bockius a Lex 100 medal for salary. Moreover, the pro bono work has been described as ‘excellent and exemplary’, with trainees ‘encouraged to take part in all opportunities’, which many feel is an ‘important part of the firm’s identity’. Many respondents also enjoyed ‘international travel’ and ‘working on deals that were in the news headlines’. If you want to work for a firm with a ‘strong reputation’ and have ‘greater exposure to high-quality work and clients’, then consider applying to Morgan Lewis & Bockius.

A day in the life of… Suera Hajzeri, first-seat trainee, Morgan Lewis

Suera Hajzeri, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius UK LLP

Departments to date: Corporate and business transactions

University: Queen Mary’s University of London

Degree: Law

9.00am: I arrive at the office, settle in and check my emails to see if any urgent work has come in overnight. I have had a non-urgent work request for a short piece of research. I open up my task list from the previous day and add this new task to the list.

9.30am: I attend a CBT training session on the anatomy of an SPA. This is the third training session from a series of four that the department has organised for trainees and associates in order to help our understanding of the key provisions of an SPA. This session touched on consideration provisions, securing obligations and price adjustments.

10.35am: Following the training session, I look over my task list and decide to prioritise outstanding tasks in order of urgency. I start working on the most urgent task – amending a subscription agreement following the receipt of an updated term sheet. The agreement is quite complex and this takes me around 45 minutes to complete.

11.20am: I prepare for a conference call that I have been asked to join by a partner relating to an acquisition transaction that we are currently working on.

11.30am: I attend the partner’s office as he is dialling into the call. The parties to the transaction join the call. The parties discuss various due diligence matters and I take notes of what is said.

12.40pm: I head out for lunch with some of the other trainees.

1.30pm: I arrive back at the office and read over some instructions relating to a pro bono matter that I received the previous day. I have been asked to prepare the first draft of an asset transfer agreement for the purposes of a merger between two related charities. The charities support women at risk of domestic violence, forced marriage and honour-based killings. I start drafting the agreement using a previous example I had been sent as a precedent.

3.55pm: I send the first draft of the asset agreement to the associate leading the pro bono matter and head to the kitchen to grab a coffee, stopping for a quick catch-up with my secretary on the way back to my office.

4.10pm: I receive an email from an associate asking me to check through a closing bible to ensure that all relevant documents had been included. I spend some time looking through the documents and when satisfied that the bible is complete, I let the associate know that there is nothing missing.

4.35pm: I turn my attention to the research task that I received overnight. I have been asked to research and draft a response to a client highlighting the requirements that a person must meet before they are able to become a director of a private company in England. I look through PLC and the Companies House website and draft a response for the client. I send this to the associate for comments.

5.30pm: An associate gives me a call and asks whether I have capacity to assist on a new matter. I tell her I do and she invites me to her office to discuss. She provides me with details of the proposed transaction and the work involved. The associate also gives me a presentation and some further material regarding the transaction to read ahead of a call that is to take place tomorrow.

6.10pm: I arrive back at my office and type up the notes I had taken during the earlier conference call.

6.25pm: I read the presentation and material that was given to me by the associate in preparation for the call scheduled tomorrow.

6.55pm: I check through my emails and make a list of tasks for the next day, before heading 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 start-ups.

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 strength in sectors including life sciences, financial services and technology.

What we’re looking for: A consistently strong academic record, including a minimum of AAB at A Level (or equivalent) and a 2(1) (predicted or gained) in undergraduate degree; prior work experience (a mixture of law and non-law), volunteering and extra-curricular activities to demonstrate the development of various skills and experience; 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, season ticket loan, pension, cycle to work scheme, employee assistance programme and the option to take qualification leave towards 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.