Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Norton Rose Fulbright
The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Norton Rose Fulbright
Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘I met a diverse group of people on the vacation scheme’; ‘it was marketed as a friendly and social firm, with guaranteed international secondment opportunities’; ‘renewable energy practice and industry focus’; ‘the approachability of the partners on the vacation scheme’; ‘its commitment to hiring international trainees’; ‘the location’; ‘its reputation for providing top-tier work’; ‘great culture of inclusivity’; ‘global firm’
Best thing about the firm? ‘The firm has some very friendly and talented supervisors’; ‘the office location’; ‘the focus on diversity; there have been key changes in training propelled by presentations and activities about unconscious bias in the workplace’; ‘people are sociable and up for a chat’; ‘the workplace culture – very inclusive and friendly’; the global nature of firm and its deals’; ‘the work!’; ‘good perks’
Worst thing about the firm? ‘Some teams are known for being friendly and supportive while others are not’; ‘the organisation of the trainee development and HR teams, especially when it comes to seat rotations – it feels like trainee choice is not always taken into account’; ‘very heavily focused on banking, which limits opportunities for trainees to experience other areas of law’; ‘long hours at times’
Best moment? ‘Working on a high-profile corporate transaction and subsequently reading about it in the Financial Times‘, ‘secondment to Singapore office’; ‘getting to free draft documents for large transactions’; ‘receiving positive feedback on work’; ‘attending a signing meeting alone with Japanese counterparties and shipowners (during my shipping finance seat)’; ‘being invited to a client dinner following the closing of a transaction’
Worst moment? ‘Staying up late counting signed originals’; ‘lots of admin work in teams that need more paralegal support’; ‘late nights in my banking seat’; ‘an all-nighter’; ‘misunderstanding instructions and consequently overcomplicating a task’; ‘dealing with stressed-out partners in the run up to signing’; ‘staying until 5am to work on a prospectus and having to come back to work for 9.30am to attend training the next day’
The Lex 100 verdict on Norton Rose Fulbright
A unique ‘sector insight’, including a ‘big focus on energy and shipping’ and ‘the approachability of senior staff, including partners, during the vacation scheme’ were some of the reasons trainees applied to Norton Rose Fulbright. ‘The international opportunities on offer – both to work on international deals/cases and to go on international secondment – are excellent’, so it comes as no surprise that NRF has earned a Lex 100 Winner award in this category. Many respondents referred to the ‘fantastic location’ of the ‘beautiful office’, which boasts an ‘amazing view’ over Tower Bridge and the Thames. On-the-job training was praised: ‘fee earners know how to deal with trainees and you can get a very good quality of work as you earn your stripes’. However, some recruits expressed concern about the degree to which trainee development is formally overseen from above. Other complaints included the seat allocation process where it was sometimes felt that ‘trainee choice is not really taken into account’. NRF is a firm which is often compared to the Magic Circle but trainees were keen to point out that ‘the hours are nowhere near as punishing and the culture is much more supportive and friendly’. Indeed, ‘the nice people that work here’ are described as ‘sociable and always up for a chat’. Best moments included ‘closing my first (large, exhausting) deal. My blood, sweat and tears was in it’, whilst ‘mundane post-completion tasks’ were less gratifying. If the combination of an ‘excellent vacation scheme; inclusive culture; global footprint; secondment opportunities; reputation; and approachability of the people who work at the firm’, appeals, research Norton Rose Fulbright.
The firm: Global firm Norton Rose Fulbright has more than 3,700 lawyers and other legal staff based in Europe, the US, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Africa. The firm is recognised for its strength in the energy, projects and natural resources sector and for its banking capabilities.
The deals: Advised Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company PJSC – Masdar on its agreement with the Government of Uzbekistan to build a 500MW wind project, which will be the largest windfarm in Central Asia once completed; advised global technical industrial services provider KAEFER Group on its acquisition of the UK and Ireland industrial services business of John Wood Group PLC for US$104m with a further payment of up to US$14 m pending achievement of agreed financial goals; advised Gore Street Energy Storage Fund PLC, London’s first stock market listed energy storage fund, on its acquisition of Ferrymuir Energy Storage Limited; advised Total on the acquisition from SSE Renewables of a majority stake in the Seagreen 1 offshore wind farm project, which has simultaneously reached financial close on its project finance; advising longstanding client Carlsberg on its proposed deal with Marston’s plc to form a new joint venture beer company in the UK, Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company; advised UK Finance, the leading industry body for banking and financial services, and a consortium of seven of the UK’s largest retail and corporate banks on the launch of the UK Government’s Bounce Back Loan Scheme.
The clients: AIG; BNP Paribas; Citi; HSBC; Pfizer; Rio Tinto; Shell; Vodafone.
A day in the life of… Joshua Battat, trainee solicitor, Norton Rose Fulbright
Departments to date: Asset finance (shipping); real estate; antitrust and competition
University: University of Leeds
Degree: Bachelor of Laws (LLB)
9.00am: I arrive at the office (with a coffee in hand) and catch up with the team about any urgent matters, review my to-do list and reply to urgent emails. Since most of the work we do is of a multi-jurisdictional nature, I inevitably wake up to emails from international clients and colleagues.
9.30am: The day typically begins with a team meeting where the partners provide an update on current matters and key developments. This is often followed by sub-team meetings to discuss priorities.
10.00am: I work closely with my supervisor and other members of the team, which is very collaborative and supportive. Various tasks will be given to me during the course of the morning – I then update my to-do list and highlight what is most urgent. It is extremely important to be organised, proactive and efficient as a trainee, especially in teams where you are given significant responsibility and encouraged to get involved.
10.30am: The antitrust and competition team places particular emphasis on getting trainees involved in matters as soon as possible, which means that taking on responsibility and performing tasks proficiently is essential. My morning will therefore always involve a conference call with a client or our counsel team on the proceedings at hand where I take notes and identify any key action points or comments.
11.00am: I am currently preparing for a High Court hearing in respect of a claim brought against our client for alleged collusion in the telecom sector, working closely with our barristers and members of the team. I also help draft the correspondence between the opposing solicitors and carry out case law research, which is particularly interesting if you have an academic interest in competition law. Knowing that my research will be reviewed and analysed to help inform our arguments and pleadings is both rewarding and intellectually motivating.
12.00pm: I review the substantive correspondence between multiple parties in respect of a high-profile claim brought in the High Court by a series of funds and financial institutions against our client in its defence of follow-on damages claims in respect of alleged anti-competitive conduct in the foreign exchange market.
1.00pm: I catch up with the other trainees over lunch in the canteen or outside the office by Tower Bridge. Speaking to other trainees is always useful as it is likely that they will also be facing the same challenges.
2.00pm: I attend a training session on cartels and private competition law enforcement presented by one of the team’s senior associates. The firm is committed to providing trainees with high-quality training. We also regularly receive training on NRF Transform, the firm’s global change and technology innovation programme.
3.00pm: Global strategy calls are often scheduled where the firm’s various competition teams come together to discuss current workstreams and notable developments. We often hear from the global team head in New York.
4.15pm: I am also working on the defence of a global financial institution against an EC decision imposing a fine on our client for anti-competitive conduct. It is both exciting and rewarding to be involved in such a prominent case and to help advance pleadings before the European General Court and ECJ.
7.30pm: The firm does not have a face time culture, and you can leave the office once you have reached a sensible point to do so. Before leaving, I update and review my to-do list, file all my emails and post my time entries. Unless there are any firm events after work, I go home to cook, meet friends for dinner or go to the gym after a busy day.
About the firm
Chair: Farmida Bi
Other offices: We have more than 3,700 lawyers and other legal staff based in Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Africa.
Who we are: We provide the world’s preeminent corporations and financial institutions with a full business law service.
What we do: Recognised for our industry focus, we are strong across all the key industry sectors: financial institutions; energy; infrastructure, mining and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; and life sciences and healthcare. Through our global risk advisory group, we leverage our industry experience with our knowledge of legal, regulatory, compliance and governance issues to provide our clients with practical solutions to the legal and regulatory risks facing their businesses.
What we’re looking for: An impeccable academic record and intellectual rigour are prerequisites. We expect successful candidates to have at least AAB at A level (or equivalent) and be on track for a 2(1) (or equivalent).
What you’ll do: Over two years – broken into four six-month seats – you’ll hit all kinds of new firsts with us, big and small. You’ll explore new areas, for instance. Each seat will take you through different sectors and practice areas, with at least one seat in each of corporate, banking and litigation.
Perks: Benefits include private healthcare, personal pension plan, income protection, life assurance, 25 days’ annual holiday, private GP service, interest-free season ticket loan, employee assistance programme, car scheme, mortgage advisory service.
Sponsorship: We cover the cost of GDL and LPC course fees and our maintenance grants are £8,000 for the GDL and £10,000 for the LPC.
Vacation scheme insider
Name: Anita Peri, future trainee
My name is Anita Peri. I graduated from UCL with a degree in law this year. I participated in a summer vacation scheme at Norton Rose Fulbright in 2019, and I was grateful to accept my training contract offer following that.
As a curious university student learning about the world of commercial law, what stood out to me was NRF’s commitment to upholding the three key pillars of quality, unity and integrity. By putting clients first, striving to find innovative solutions to service clients on a global basis, and building long-lasting relationships, NRF’s industry expertise sets itself apart from its peers and solidifies its market reputation worldwide. But beyond the headline-grabbing work, it was NRF’s internal adherence to these principles which resonated with me. The engaging university dinners, the talks and workshops on mental health, the numerous support networks, and the establishment of tangible targets to ensure meaningful minority representation illustrated to me that NRF values its people as its greatest asset. I value working in a firm which not only strives to provide top-tier services, but commits to sustaining a culture of respect for all individuals.
I thus applied for a vacation scheme to obtain a deeper understanding of the work and culture at NRF. I viewed it as a two-way evaluation: an opportunity for me to ascertain whether this was the right firm, and a means for the recruitment team to assess whether I was the correct fit. During the two-week scheme, I sat in the general banking department. I was amazed at the exposure I got within this short period of time – I proofread and helped draft a loan agreement and a guarantee for a syndicated lending transaction, I sat in on client calls and negotiations to discuss the structure of a receivables financing transaction, I conducted due diligence research, and I contributed to business development work regarding the impacts of the transition from LIBOR. Despite being a vacation scheme student, I was even able to do pro bono work at the legal aid clinic in Croydon. This equipped me with a robust understanding of a variety of work in a range of areas, both within and outside the firm. What struck me the most was how hospitable everyone was; I could easily approach someone to offer help, clarify doubts, or even just chat with. I was taken seriously, and I was given meaningful tasks which had value – both for my own personal and professional development, as well as for the broader purpose at hand.
We also attended a number of social events during the scheme. These were invaluable in gaining an insight into NRF beyond the professional milieu – not to mention that they were just a lot of fun! Exclusively for the vacation scheme candidates, we had cocktail and drinks evenings, an incredible dinner with partners and, perhaps my biggest highlight, learning to cook at the London Underground Cookery School. We were invited to attend the firm’s Pride Network summer party during Pride Week, which was wonderful. We also attended the annual summer party, which (very fortunately) fell within the last week of our scheme; this was the perfect way to end an amazing two weeks.
Overall, my biggest takeaway was that the culture of respect and collegiality is at the heart of NRF. The principles of quality, unity and integrity are upheld in every aspect of the firm’s work – and this is what truly sets NRF apart. My key piece of advice for future applicants would be to be proactive. Immerse yourself in the culture, and explore why NRF’s work and values resonate with you. As an applicant, find opportunities to engage with the firm’s representatives – at law fairs, dinners, open days and any of the other numerous events. As a vacation scheme candidate, put yourself out there – have open and insightful conversations with trainees and associates, introduce yourself to the members of the department, and always be open to taking on work and learning.