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? ‘Everyone I had met at the firm seemed very friendly and positive’; ‘I was drawn to the global aspect of the firm and the opportunities to work abroad’; ‘the friendly working culture’; ‘cross-border global work’; ‘the application process was transparent and approachable’; ‘the university open day pitch’; ‘full-service firm’
Best thing about the firm? ‘The people and the general atmosphere’; ‘good work/life balance’; ‘modern and impressive office space’; ‘you get the high standard of training that you would expect from a renowned City firm but the culture is healthy and the partners are generally approachable and personable’; ‘friendly atmosphere’
Worst thing about the firm? ‘Sometimes there is a lack of appreciation for life outside of work’; ‘the canteen can sometimes be pretty poor’; ‘hours, although this is team specific’; ‘the differences in policies across different teams e.g. holiday’; ‘internal admin/organisation can sometimes be very stressful, e.g. support for trainees when going on secondment and general logistics’; ‘partner to associate ratio is low’
Best moment? ‘Being involved in the £18bn Randgold Barrick merger’; ‘travelling to Athens for my secondment’; ‘client exposure’; ‘completing my first deal’; ‘being part of a market-first debt capital markets Islamic finance deal that has since gone on to win numerous awards’; ‘meeting with a client after months of emails and a signing’; ‘attending the Court of Appeal’
Worst moment? ‘Four months preparing for court’; ‘spending months sorting out originals to send out in a post-completion task’; ‘feeling exhausted after months of late nights working on a deal’; ‘being given a fair amount of admin tasks’; ‘being left a matter from an associate who went on holiday with very little support or background’
The Lex 100 verdict on Norton Rose Fulbright
The firm: Global firm Norton Rose Fulbright has more than 4,000 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: Acted for Hermes Investment Manager as part of the consortium which acquired a 61% stake in regulated gas distribution networks from National Grid; acting for a joint venture between India-based Hinduja Group and Spain’s OHL in relation to the £1bn redevelopment and conversion of The Old War Office into a luxury hotel and luxury apartments; assisted the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development with the EBRD Trade Facilitation Programme, which involved the drafting and negotiation of documentation for issuance facilities and revolving credit agreements; advised Greencoat on its $340m equity offering as part of its new share issuance programme and plan to acquire several wind farms; advised CBG on the expansion of its Sangaredi bauxite mine in western Guinea which involves the construction of additional rail and port infrastructure; representing Carl Rogberg, the former financial director of Tesco, in a Serious Fraud Office prosecution connected with accounting practices at the retailer.
The clients: Aspen Insurance; BP; eve Sleep; ExxonMobil; Lloyds Bank; LOT Polish Airlines; Société Générale; Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation; Trinity Mirror.
The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Asset finance and leasing; Brexit; Commercial property: corporate occupiers; Corporate governance; Debt capital markets; Equity capital markets; Financial services (non-contentious/regulatory); Fintech; Flotations: small and mid-cap; Fraud: white collar crime; Infrastructure (including pfi and ppp); Insurance: insolvency and restructuring; Insurance and reinsurance litigation; Listed funds; Oil and gas; Mining and minerals; Power (including electricity and renewables); Rail; Regulatory investigations and corporate crime; Trade finance
Norton Rose Fulbright impressed applicants with its ‘global presence and solid reputation’ and ‘niche high-end practices, such as shipping and aviation’. ‘International secondment opportunities are second to none’, scoring NRF a well-deserved Lex 100 Winner medal in this category. Many were also lured by the ‘office views and location’ although it was agreed that the ‘canteen food could be better’. ‘The culture is healthy’ at NRF, as the firm boasts a ‘flexible modern approach to work’ with ‘generally friendlier hours’ than similar-sized global firms. Some respondents were not so happy with the seat allocation process, which they felt was ‘not always transparent and often quite delayed and stressful’. One new recruit commented that ‘supervision can be weak at times’ and on some occasions trainees worked ‘until 4am every night for a week’ on particular deals, resulting in some ‘tough months’. But this isn’t always the case; work highlights included ‘being involved in an £18bn merger’, ‘being selected for a diversity roundtable with the Prime Minister’ and ‘reading about my first IPO in the Financial Times the next day’. No wonder that NRF has collected two more Lex 100 Winner medals for a brilliant vacation scheme and confidence of being kept on, with trainees also commending the ‘approachability of partners and supervisors’. Recruits appreciate that the firm encourages pro bono opportunities; they are ‘required to do two sessions per seat at a Croydon law clinic’ which many found extremely interesting and satisfying. If a firm with a ‘focus on innovation’ which offers applicants ‘high-quality training and international exposure’ attracts you, take a closer look at Norton Rose Fulbright.
A day in the life of… Joshua Battat, trainee, Norton Rose Fulbright
Departments to date: Asset finance – shipping (1st seat)
University: University of Leeds
Degree: Bachelor of Laws (LLB)
9.00am: I arrive at the office and catch up with the team about any urgent matters that need seeing to for the day ahead, review my to-do list and reply to emails received overnight. Since most of the work we do is of an international nature, I inevitably wake up to emails received from foreign clients and other Norton Rose Fulbright colleagues from around the network.
9.30am: The asset finance team holds a fortnightly meeting so members of the department can provide an update on the transactions and deals they are working on. Norton Rose Fulbright’s asset finance team is among the strongest in the City so it is always interesting to hear about the clients and work.
10.00am: I work closely with my supervisor (who heads the firm’s shipping finance practice), senior associates and junior associates. The team is very collaborative and various tasks are often delegated to me during the course of the morning which will need to be completed throughout the day.
10.30am: The shipping finance team places particular emphasis on getting trainees involved in transactions as soon as possible. Client contact is therefore encouraged. My morning will often involve a phone call with a client or opposing counsel.
11.00am: Currently, I am preparing for a signing meeting with a prestigious shipping company and Japanese counterparty. This involves compiling and collating all of the original documents and preparing them to be signed by the relevant signatories. Signing meetings are the final hurdle to any transaction being completed so it is important to be well-prepared, thorough and organised.
12.00pm: I am assisting the team on the financing of some luxury cruise ships which are in the process of being built. After discussion with my supervisor and the associate I share an office with, I begin drafting security documents, engagement letters, corporate authorities, fee letters or English legal opinions, which will need to be negotiated and commented on by other parties.
1.00pm: I catch up with the other trainees over lunch in the canteen or by Tower Bridge. Speaking to other trainees is always useful as it is likely that they will also be facing the same challenges considering the steep learning curve that any training contract offers.
2.00pm: I attend a knowledge training session presented by one of the team’s senior partners. All are welcome at such sessions, but they are of particular benefit to trainees and junior associates.
3.00pm: I prepare for the monthly shipping international business group meeting with partners from around the Norton Rose Fulbright network on key business developments and office updates. Today’s conference call is with Europe, the US and Canada but I also typically attend the conference call with the firm’s Australian and Asian offices. I take the minutes of the calls, which are then circulated.
4.00pm: I take a ten minute break to grab a coffee with the associate in my team or one of the other trainees. I then continue working on any outstanding matters depending on what has arisen during the day. One of the great things about sitting in a transactional team is that you are able to see an array of transactions through from start to finish, giving you exposure to a wide range of matters.
7.00pm: The firm does not have a face time culture, and you can leave the office once you are done with your work (in fact, this is encouraged). I typically finish around 7:00pm, although there are days that I leave earlier or later. Before leaving, I update and review my to-do list, file all my emails away and post all the time I have spent on different matters.
About the firm
Chair: Farmida Bi
Other offices: We have more than 4,000 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.