Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Sector focus in the areas that I am interested in – energy, tech and finance’; ‘six-seat training contract – you learn so more from having the extra seats’; ‘the size of the London office and the geographical focus of the work’; ‘the international flavour of the work’, ‘I enjoyed the final-round partner interview’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Having two extra seats gives you valuable time to explore different areas of the world of commercial law and to think seriously about what you would like to do after qualification’; ‘the people and how approachable everyone is’; ‘the quality of the work. Trainees are given a lot of responsibility’; ‘the people’; ‘its inclusiveness’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The seat allocation procedure is still a little opaque’; ‘before starting here, all incoming trainees get invited to the Christmas party, but typically you won’t know anyone already by that stage. Some more relaxed, smaller, pre-training contract socials beforehand would be a good idea – maybe the incoming trainees with the new first years or something similar’

Best moment? ‘Being involved in a trial as part of my litigation seat’; ‘helping out a senior associate with a closing of a tech deal in Barcelona. I got to assist in the preparation of the underlying documents and then the completion mechanics’; ‘closing a £15m deal’; ‘working on a case that was in the newspapers. It was really exciting to be working on something so current, fast-moving and international’

Worst moment? ‘Saying goodbye to my supervisor who left to go and work for a client’; ‘working until 1.30am three nights in a row and then doing similar hours in the subsequent week. It was the first time I had to do long hours and it was a tough two weeks’

The Lex 100 verdict on Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

The deals: Advised Kinnevik (STO:KINV:B) and Vostok New Ventures (STO:VNV-SDB) on digital health startup Babylon’s Series C investment round, which will raise up to $500m, making Babylon the UK’s newest unicorn with the company now valued at $2bn; representing RockRose Energy in connection with a £248m recommended cash offer to acquire the entire issued and to be issued share capital of RockRose by Viaro Energy; advised Walney Extension Limited, a joint venture owned by Ørsted (50%) and Danish pension funds PKA (25%) and PFA (25%), on the sale of its transmission assets to Diamond Transmission Partners Walney Extension, a partnership between Mitsubishi subsidiary Diamond Transmission, HICL Infrastructure and Chubu Electric Power; advised AI processor company Graphcore on its $150m Series D2 extension financing; advised Millicom International Cellular on the $1.65bn bridge loan to finance the acquisition of the entire stake in Telefonica de Costa Rica and a 60% stake in Telefonica Moviles Panama and Telefonia Celular de Nicaragua from Telefonica SA.

The clients: Atomico; Azito Energie; Canal+; EY; Graphcore; Infracapital; Michelin; Microsoft; Millicom International Cellular; RockRose Energy.

The verdict

Orrick focuses on three key sectors: technology, energy/infrastructure and finance which are ‘pervasive throughout the firm’s departments’. A small trainee intake and the ‘international flavour of the work’ are also enviable selling points. The training contract is divided into six seats, which recruits love because ‘it gives you a much broader view of the work of a commercial law firm and gives you more options in terms of where to qualify’. Being one of not too many means that trainees get ‘more client contact and attention from senior colleagues’ and ‘generally feel more involved’ so that they ‘never feel like a small cog in a big machine’. ‘Sitting in on an international call with colleagues from Washington DC and Brussels, and contributing my findings’ and ‘delivering a presentation to a client with my supervisor’ are examples of some high-responsibility tasks given to trainees. The downside of being part of a small intake, however, is that there is some ‘uncertainty about qualification positions as it is all based on business need’. Orrick’s people were unanimously praised: ‘associates and partners consistently give their time and support to trainees’. Some recruits think that the ‘firm-organised social life could be improved’ to facilitate ‘better integration between departments’. And, perhaps predictably, ‘the hours in certain teams can be tough’, which can mean ‘one or two late nights alone in the office’, but ‘people are understanding and supportive in those situations and try to help out where they can’. For an inclusive firm where ‘trainees are given a lot of responsibility and high-quality work’, consider Orrick.

A day in the life of… Fiona Shajko, third-seat trainee, Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe

Fiona Shajko, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

Departments to date: Corporate (M&A and private equity), litigation and employment

University: University of Warwick

Degree: Philosophy, Politics and Economics, 2(1)

9.20am: I arrive at a school in East London where I am going to deliver a workshop to year 8 students on the meaning of ‘consent’. Orrick partners with the Schools Consent Project, one of the many pro bono opportunities available at the firm. It is the third or fourth workshop that I have volunteered to give. I keep coming back to do them as it is a really challenging and rewarding experience.

11.30am: I meet with an associate and senior associate in the arbitration team to discuss and divide tasks. Tomorrow is our deadline to file the statement of defence to counterclaim for a client in the oil and gas sector. I have been heavily involved in compiling the exhibits to this pleading and updating the index, and I now have to finalise it.

1.30pm: I grab some lunch with one of the other trainees. When applying for training contracts, I targeted firms with small intakes because I wanted the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with my colleagues.

2.15pm: I send my supervisor my note of a meeting we had with a client last Friday. The meeting was to discuss the client’s document preservation obligations as well as a communications protocol for highly sensitive documents. As we have a small trainee intake, trainees can get a lot of early opportunities for client contact.

2.30pm: I receive an email from the arbitration associate assigning various tasks to each of the juniors working on the matter (me and two associates). When approaching a deadline, it feels like no task is too small no matter the seniority of the lawyers; everyone is happy to work together to get it over the line. I am asked to insert the exhibit references to the statement of defence to counterclaim.

3.20pm: The partner on the arbitration matter queries one of the exhibits, because there doesn’t seem to be any text in the body of the email. It turns out it was a technical error that I could not have known about, but it now means we have to check all of the exhibits to make sure this has not happened elsewhere.

4.40pm: The senior associate on the arbitration matter schedules an impromptu catch-up meeting in the partner’s office so we can all touch base and ensure we are on track. Trainees at Orrick are immediately included as part of the team and these catch-ups really help to gain an understanding of the overall case/transaction.

5.45pm: A second-year trainee comes to my room for a quick chat with me and my supervisor. She had heard that I had done a presentation to the corporate group in my last seat about environmental, social and governance factors and asked if I could share the presentation with her as she was doing some work on the same topic. A benefit of being part of a smaller office is that it is easier to share knowledge and work collaboratively.

6.30pm: I receive an email from a litigation associate attaching the skeleton arguments for an ongoing trial in which we are representing Ernst & Young. I have been invited to shadow at the trial on Friday and I am really excited about it as I will be watching the claimant’s cross-examination.

6.40pm: My supervisor sends a revised draft of the communications protocol based on our meeting with the client and asks me and an associate for any further comments. I give one or two suggestions based on discussions from the meeting. My experience so far has been that partners and associates genuinely value the trainees’ opinions and input.

7.30pm: I review my to-do list and leave work feeling confident that we are well prepared for tomorrow’s arbitration deadline.

About the firm

Chairman: Mitch Zuklie

London managing partner: Simon Willis

Other offices: Austin, Beijing, Boston, Brussels, Dusseldorf, Geneva, Houston, Los Angeles, Milan, Munich, New York, Orange County, Paris, Portland, Rome, Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Seattle, Shanghai, Silicon Valley, Taipei, Tokyo, Washington DC, Wheeling WV

Who we are: Orrick is a global law firm with 25 offices located throughout North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. We focus on three sectors: technology, energy, and infrastructure and finance. We aim to be a best place to work and are always adapting to the ever-increasing pace of innovation. Fortune named us 15th on its 2019 list The Best Companies to Work For.

What we do: Orrick has earned a global reputation advising both established and emerging technology companies, energy companies, and banks and international financial institutions.

What we’re looking for: If you set your standards high and have a strong work ethic, then Orrick could be for you. We are looking for bright, talented graduates of any discipline who are looking for a firm offering a broad-based training contract.

What you’ll do: To help trainees explore all the different areas in which we practise, we offer six four-month seats. Trainees are supervised for each seat, and also receive coaching and mentoring from our entire team.

Perks: We offer a competitive benefits package including an employer pension scheme, private health insurance, dental insurance, season ticket loan, fitness subsidy, life assurance, critical illness cover, subsided childcare cost, and an extensive employee assistance programme.

Sponsorship: We will provide sponsorship for your Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and Legal Practice Course (LPC), and an £8,000 maintenance grant for the GDL and £9,500 for the LPC.