Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Norton Rose Fulbright

The Lex 100 verdict on Norton Rose Fulbright

‘The global reach of the firm, the ability to work abroad and the culture’ lead the accolades given by trainees describing Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF). NRF has an impressive client list, sector focus and is an international stalwart. A major name in training, the current cohort applaud the firm’s ‘international opportunities’ and ‘culture’. Some trainees previously worked as paralegals, a great way of getting a sense of the firm before applying. With mandatory pro-bono work and a guaranteed overseas seat, trainees enjoy the international reach and the diverse sectors available. One trainee identified the firm’s supportive culture; ‘people are quite understanding and are happy to accommodate special needs’. Highlights included ‘getting to know the other trainees’, ‘the client contact’, and ‘closing a high-value deal mid-Covid, thinking that it might fall through; we had a little global NRF Zoom drinks and celebrations at 6am’. The international seat rotation has been challenging during the pandemic, but as one trainee comments ‘working remotely from London was something to get used to, but the time zones worked exceptionally well. Of course, this means that you have to step up as a trainee as your supervisor might be in bed when you have an urgent question to ask’. If you are looking for a global firm with strong pro-bono credentials and diverse sectors, Norton Rose Fulbright is one to target.

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... Tim Ikramov, trainee solicitor, Norton Rose Fulbright

Tim Ikramov, Norton Rose Fulbright

Departments to date: Project finance; Asset finance (shipping)

University: King's College London

Degree: Bachelor of Laws (LLB)

9.00am: I either log on from home or arrive at the office. Following lockdown, the firm has had a great flexible working policy so I am in the office two or three times a week depending on how busy we are. I 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: I touch base with the colleagues and supervisors who I am currently working on matters with, all of whom are very collaborative and supportive, to go over any key action points for that day. After this meeting, I usually dive into the agreed upon tasks and action points for the day.

10.30am: The asset finance 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 series of email exchanges and calls with a client, drafting security and other key documents, as well as chasing up third parties on any outstanding points.

11.00am: I am currently preparing for a refinancing of a series of bulk carrier vessels, acting on behalf of the new incoming agent bank. This means that I need to be familiar with the particulars of the previous financing, as well as what exactly the new terms are for the refinancing. In this matter I play an active role in drafting up the new security documents and liaising with our local counsel for their comments and input. It is essential to be on top of all the multiple parties involved, and to make sure that each party is up-to-date on the current drafts of the documents and have all signed off on these by closing. I will then be heavily involved in the closing process, managing signatures and making sure that the financing goes ahead smoothly.

12.00pm: Following some comments from the client, I make amendments to the security documents I drafted earlier in the week and update the CP checklist.

1.00pm: If I am in the office, I grab a quick lunch with some fellow trainees. If I am home, I take the time to make myself a home-cooked meal.

3.00pm: I attend a catch-up call with my supervisor and our client to discuss the closing timeline for another deal, as well as any further points for negotiation. In these meetings I am not usually required to take notes, but it is helpful to do so for learning purposes and to have a clearer picture of what needs to be done going forward.

4.15pm: I am also working on the sale of a number of vessels over which our client has a mortgage. The mortgages are to be discharged on the day of the sale of each vessel, so I prepare for the closing steps and inform the client of how the next sale of the vessel will proceed in order to receive their confirmation that they will be happy with the mortgage discharge. While my supervisor is around to guide me if necessary, I mostly manage the process myself which helps in building up my confidence.

7.30pm: The firm does not have a face-time culture, and you can leave the office/log off 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: UK – London, Newcastle. Overseas offices – over 50 cities across Europe, the US, 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. We have more than 3,700 lawyers and other legal staff based in Europe, the US, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Africa.

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.

Wherever we are, we operate in accordance with our global business principles of quality, unity and integrity. We aim to provide the highest possible standard of legal service in each of our offices and to maintain that level of quality at every point of contact.

What we do: Our London office delivers domestic and multi-jurisdictional legal services to corporates, financial institutions, governments and other public sector organisations. We excel across a range of legal practices, including corporate, M&A and securities; banking and finance; dispute resolution and litigation; real estate; antitrust and competition; tax; employment and labour; intellectual property; regulation and investigations; and risk advisory. We also advise on US law, and we have a world-leading Islamic finance practice. We are particularly well-known for our focus on industry sectors and are strong in financial institutions, including insurance; energy; infrastructure, mining and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; and life sciences and healthcare.

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 £7,000 for the GDL and £10,000 for the LPC.

Training opportunities
There’s no progress more vital than what you’ll experience on our training contracts. 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 banking and corporate. One of your seats will almost certainly be on secondment too – your first encounter with working in a new country, or maybe six months spent working in a client office. As you move from one milestone to the next, you’ll have a sizeable team at your back. A partner mentor to turn to and to learn from. A trainee buddy to teach you the ropes. And the whole trainee development team, to keep you on track from day to day.

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).

You’ll have an enquiring mind, strong interpersonal skills, and the motivation to make constant progress. You’ll never stop pushing yourself forward, grasping every opportunity – both at home and abroad – that our firm has to offer. You’ll be interested in business too, and keen to build relationships within a firm that’ll help you make progress with purpose.

We offer up to 45 training contracts each year across two intakes.

For both our March 2024 and September 2024 intakes, all finalists and graduates of any subject, and penultimate year law students should apply from 31 May-11 July, once they have received their final, or second year, grades.

At Norton Rose Fulbright we look for intelligent, ambitious, internationally focused and commercially-minded individuals to drive our business. We will expect you to think creatively and find new ways to solve problems. We expect our trainees to deliver work that meets the highest professional, ethical and business standards for our clients. All applicants must have achieved at least AAB in their A levels or equivalent and be on course to achieve (or to have achieved already) a 2(1) degree or above.

Mentoring: Our mentoring scheme will help you make the most of the incredible depth of knowledge and experience across the organisation. Your mentor will offer you everything from career insights to resolving any concerns you may have.

Working together: We pride ourselves on our supportive culture that thrives on collaboration and encourages networking with your trainee colleagues, lawyers and partners. You will also help to choose – or become – one of two trainee representatives. These meet once a quarter to provide feedback, raise concerns and generate ideas to ensure your training contract is a rewarding experience.

Your development: When we hire you, we are making an investment. We ensure we all get the maximum return on this by providing the highest standards of training. Becoming an outstanding lawyer is about continuous development – we will make sure you are challenged and rewarded in equal measure.

Vacation schemes
Finding the place you want to start your career is a moment you’ll always remember, and that’s exactly the kind of insight we offer on our vacation schemes. The scheme will involve interactive sessions with senior stakeholders, group and individual assessments, engaging workshops, as well as an associate mentor and trainee buddy for the week. There will also be a training contract interview on the last day. Whether your vacation scheme is in person, virtual, or a hybrid of the two, our schemes offer you an unparalleled insight into the life, work and culture of who we are, giving you the chance to see if we are the firm for you.

First-year opportunities
Everyone remembers the first day they walked through the doors of their future firm. For many of our lawyers, that happens on our First Step programme. First Step caters to first-year undergraduates of all degree subjects (and second years of a four-year course). Whether it’s virtual or in person, it’s the opportunity to make a first impression, and use our packed schedule of interactive sessions to discover whether law is right for you.

Business & Legal Operations Graduate Scheme
The delivery of legal services is changing. This doesn’t just involve the emergence of new technology, it involves the increasingly crucial role played by other technical disciplines in providing more complex and sophisticated client solutions, and optimising our performance as a business.

Our Business and Legal Operations Graduate Scheme is a two-year programme encompassing every aspect of the rapid changes currently underway in the delivery of high-end legal services. This two-year programme will mirror our traditional training contract for new lawyers, but with a focus on different disciplines, including innovation, commercial management and legal product design. This is an exciting opportunity for those who want to progress and be at the forefront of driving our business strategy in the years to come.

Apprentice Programmes
Have you thought about law? Are you worried about the costs of university or put off by how competitive it is to obtain a job once you graduate? Perhaps you are simply keen to get into the world of work and start building a career. If so, our Apprenticeship Programme might be for you.

We have two Apprentice Programmes: a Solicitor Apprentice Programme in London, after which you will obtain an LLB degree and become a qualified solicitor, and a Paralegal Apprentice Programme based in our Newcastle office, through which you will achieve a Level 3 Apprenticeship Certificate of Higher Education.

Our apprentices will work alongside and learn from some of the brightest minds in their field, helping to solve some of our clients’ most complex legal and business problems while learning the academic and practical skills needed to excel as a lawyer. Both programmes start in September 2022, and we are looking for lawyers of the future – enterprising, digitally minded individuals with the intellectual curiosity and aptitude needed to thrive in our legal business.

Application details
Training contract: If you are a finalist or graduate (of any subject), or a penultimate year law student, you should apply from 31 May-11 July 2022.

Vacation schemes: Our 2021 Winter Vacation Scheme is for finalists and graduates from law and non-law subjects and will run from 6-10 December 2021. Applications will open from 13 September-31 October 2021 and assessment days will be held in November.

Our 2022 Spring Vacation Scheme is for finalists and graduates (law and non-law). The scheme will run from 4-8th April 2022. Applications will open from 4 October-21 November 2021.

Our 2022 Summer Vacation Schemes are for penultimate-year law and non-law undergraduates. The schemes will run 6-10 June 2022 and 27 June-1 July 2022

Applications will open from 15 November-16 January 2022, assessments will be held in February 2022.

First Step: First-year undergraduates and those in the second year of a four-year course may apply for our First Step Programme from 1 February-6 March 2022. Telephone interviews will be held in June 2022 and successful candidates will attend the programme from 18-22nd July 2022.

Business & Legal Operations Graduate Scheme: If you are a finalist or graduate (of any subject) you can apply from 6 December-20 January 2022. Assessment centres will be held in March 2022.

Apprentice Programmes: We run two apprentice programmes: one in London for aspiring solicitors and one in Newcastle for paralegals. Both programmes are open for all final year A-Level students or school leavers to apply, with applications opening from 4 April-5 June 2022. Assessment centres will be held in June 2022.

These programmes are not open to candidates who are already studying at university.

Vacation scheme insider

My name is Kehinde Oyebola. I graduated from the University of Nottingham with a first-class degree in History in 2019. I was a spring vacation scheme candidate at Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) in April 2021. The vacation scheme gave me the opportunity to experience a firm that is renowned for its exceptional work and inclusive culture. I was delighted to accept my training contract offer following the scheme and I look forward to joining the firm in 2023.

I applied for a vacation scheme at NRF because of my interest in projects and energy work. I knew that NRF’s high rankings in this area and emerging markets would provide me with the best opportunity to further delve into my interest in this practice. My interest in projects and energy work is also linked to my interest in global work and international opportunities. I am of Nigerian heritage and I studied Mandarin Chinese at A-level, so I always had a desire to broaden my international outlook through my training contract. This made a career at NRF an amazing fit, as the firm’s global network of 50 offices differentiates the firm from its competitors.

The week-long scheme took place virtually via Zoom and on Forage. Having completed a vacation scheme in person in 2019, I was very impressed with how NRF managed to capture the crucial elements of an in-person scheme. Despite not being able to be in the office, we were able to undertake a variety of typical trainee tasks which took the form of three assessments. Some tasks included proofreading, drafting, and looking at a project finance transaction. I found the tasks really engaging and reflective of the variety of work I could complete as a future trainee at the firm, and was able to schedule in additional chats with my trainee buddy and associate mentor so that we could go through what I had learnt on the assessments and what I found challenging. This highlighted to me that the firm has a healthy working environment where I can learn and develop both personally and professionally.

When I was making applications, I was particularly drawn to the friendly and inclusive culture at NRF. Prior to the scheme starting, I received a call from one of the firm’s graduate recruitment partners. This was an invaluable opportunity to get advice and insights from such a senior member of the firm. In fact, my biggest takeaway from the scheme was that NRF values its people as its greatest asset. Diversity, social mobility and access to opportunities have always been core values for me. The diversity and inclusion presentation highlighted to me the active role that senior members of the firm are playing to increase BAME representation and retention at all levels of the firm. I was able to schedule meetings with the vice co-chair of Origins (NRFs BAME network) and the corporate social responsibility manager and talk about the work I do with Women in the City African and Caribbean Network (WCAN), a diversity platform.

We also attended a few virtual social events during the scheme! These were a great opportunity to get to know the other vacation schemers and graduate recruitment team in a more relaxed setting. We had a group painting class where we (attempted!) to paint the famous ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch and also a pub-style quiz. I was really happy that graduate recruitment had scheduled these events, as both socials were great fun despite the virtual element.

Ultimately, I would thoroughly recommend applying for NRF’s vacation scheme if you are looking for a firm which provides the best of both worlds: excellent training and work alongside a supportive and inclusive working environment. My key piece of advice for future applicants would be to be confident and reach out to current members of the firm to gain a better insight into what life at NRF is like.