Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Its high-quality, top-end work alongside the small team size presented an opportunity to get my teeth stuck into complex work’; ‘the people are approachable, social and easy to get along with’; ‘well regarded in M&A, private equity and capital markets’; ‘trainees are recognised as part of the team from day one’

Best thing about the firm? ‘People will push you to constantly perform better, and take on tasks which third year associates may be tasked with at larger firms’; ‘early responsibility, top-quality work and culture’; ‘social events’; ‘being exposed to a good range of interesting work across practices/rotations’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The expectation that you will always have your work phone on you and be contactable’; ‘working most weekends since joining the firm’; ‘being stuck at work after midnight with no decent takeaway options’; ‘the IT systems’; ‘work/life balance can be poor’

Best moment? ‘Being a part of several signings of transactions’; ‘attending court’; ‘going for a day at Ascot in a corporate box just a few days into my first seat’; ‘Christmas party’; ‘attending multi-week client negotiations on an M&A deal as part of a four-person (including partner) team’

Worst moment? ‘Having a week with nothing to do’; ‘having to move seats and adjust to a new team and way of working every six months’; ‘making mistakes early on’; ‘receiving brutal feedback’; ‘the high expectation of you six months in’

The Lex 100 verdict on Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP

The firm: US firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom’s London office advises on mergers and acquisitions, private equity, financings, restructurings and tax matters, and has extensive experience in international arbitration and litigation, white-collar crime, employment and financial regulation. The firm advises clients on complex matters often involving both UK and multijurisdictional law.

The deals: Advised The Coca-Cola Company on the tax aspects of its £3.9 billion acquisition of Costa Coffee from Whitbread Plc; advised Vantiv, Inc. in its US$10.4 billion acquisition of Worldpay Group plc, Britain’s largest payment processor; advised HgCapital as lead investor in the US$5.3 billion buyout of Visma. This is Europe’s largest ever software buyout; advised Auchan Retail S.A. on the acquisition of a 36.16% stake in its Hong Kong-listed subsidiary Sun Art Retail Group Ltd. by Alibaba Group Holding Limited for HK$22.4 billion; advised Danaos Corporation, a leading international owner of containerships, in its debt refinancing, reducing its US$2.2 billion of outstanding debt.

The clients: Auchan Retail S.A.; Danaos Corporation; HgCapital; Intel Corporation; Moody’s Corporation; MorphoSys AG; Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.; The Coca-Cola Company; The Republic of Cyprus; VTB Infrastructure Investments; Vantiv; Westfield Corporation.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see for more details) Acquisition finance; Bank lending: investment grade debt and syndicated loans; BlackRock Fund Advisors; Commercial litigation; Corporate and regulatory; Corporate restructuring and insolvency; Corporate tax; Debt capital markets; Equity capital markets; Financial services (non-contentious/regulatory); Fraud: white-collar crime; Globalworth real estate investments; High yield; Insurance: corporate and regulatory; International arbitration; M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+; Private equity: transactions – high-value deals; Oil and gas; Private funds; Public international law; Regulatory investigations and corporate crime

The verdict

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom ‘has built an impressive reputation in international arbitration’ and is renowned for ‘cutting-edge work’. Recruits were also attracted by the firm’s ‘global work in private equity, capital markets and M&A’. Many applied to Skadden due to the ‘small trainee intake’ which enables ‘regular catch-ups with our training principal’, resulting in many commending the ‘tailored and personalised training’ as opposed to ‘being run through a big HR system’. Pro bono initiatives are utilised as ‘incredible training opportunities’ to ‘develop new skills such as interviewing and advising’. The ‘high-performance and collegiate culture’ was also appreciated and recruits praised colleagues for ‘encouraging enthusiasm and career development, but also celebrating life outside of work’. Skadden has also secured the accolade of being a Lex 100 Winner for international secondments, salary and confidence in being kept on. Although the ‘hours can be tough’ and trainees disliked ‘having to juggle multiple work flows against similar deadlines’, this hasn’t been the same experience for all. Some respondents believe they ‘work fewer hours than peers at some other firms’ and are grateful they ‘have not had to go in on weekends’. Many relished the opportunities to ‘take ownership of work’ and are often ‘working alongside partners and liaising directly with clients’. Trainees reflected on best moments such as ‘working on a billion-dollar international commercial arbitration which took place in Singapore’ and ‘attending a closing celebration meeting at the client’s office’. If a ‘globally-prestigious firm’ which is ‘big enough to offer variety, but small enough to feel like home’ sounds enticing, consider Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

A day in the life of… Eleanor Williams, First-year trainee, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP

Eleanor Williams, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP

Departments to date: Funds and corporate.

University: Oxford

Degree: Law

8.30am: I arrive at work for a training session. Today it is on the cross-examination of witnesses in arbitration and the talk is full of colourful examples, both good and bad, that Skadden teams have come across in the past. On average we have an early morning hourly training session once a week. Otherwise I normally arrive in the office at 9.30.

9.30am: I get to my desk and catch up with Natasha, an associate that I am currently working with on a company reorganisation. I am sitting in the capital markets team with Adam Howard but have been exposed to lots of more general corporate work and have been working for a broad range of associates and partners.

10.00am: I make a list of the tasks I need to complete today and make sure I am on top of any emails that have come in. My first task for the day is updating board resolutions with some comments from John Adebiyi, the partner heading up the company reorganisation.

11.00am: Danny Tricot, the partner in capital markets, asks me to conduct some research on a new company the team will be pitching to and to put together a corporate profile. Danny is also the trainee principal so I have had several meetings with him over the past few weeks to discuss my preferences for second-year seats. The employment team are going to take a trainee for the first time next year which I think is a really exciting opportunity.

12.30pm: I catch up with the other trainees at lunch in the cafe. Conversation ranges from new matters that people are working on, to catching up with someone who just got back from Thailand, to voicing predictions for tonight’s episode of a reality TV show. As small intakes, we see a lot of both trainee year groups as well as the NQs and everyone gets along very well.

1.30pm: After lunch I have a meeting to discuss a new pro bono project that I am going to be involved in. A team is researching how the use of artificial intelligence and algorithms might result in discrimination. Today I am catching up with Damian, an associate in the employment team, and we have a call with two associates in the Paris office to kick-start their involvement in the project. Skadden has offices all over the world and communication with counterparts abroad is a regular occurrence.

3.00pm: I go for coffee with Adam for a quick afternoon break. Often conversation steers clear of work but today Adam is particularly insightful in talking over seat choices and what might be beneficial for my career.

3.30pm: I have been placed on a new matter, working on a potential proxy fight. I spend the rest of the afternoon researching previous proxy contest examples to gain a better understanding of timelines, documents released and results, to gain a better understanding of how it might work and any common themes.

6.00pm: This evening I am heading to a vacation scheme event at the Ivy. I have been a mentor for those coming through the vacation schemes and have also been lucky enough to attend lots of the events that are put on over the summer to help them integrate at the firm. Last week we did a tour of Chelsea football club followed by dinner in the directors’ lounge. It’s really rewarding to be involved in recruitment at the firm but it’s also helped me get to know associates and partners in other teams better. Getting involved in all aspects of firm life is encouraged at Skadden and it is wonderful to work with very sociable people.

About the firm

Managing partner: Pranav Trivedi (UK)

Other offices: Beijing, Boston, Brussels, Chicago, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Moscow, Munich, New York, Palo Alto, Paris, San Francisco, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Toronto, Vienna, Washington DC, Wilmington.

Who we are: Skadden is one of the leading law firms in the world with approximately 1,700 lawyers across the globe.

What we do: Our clients include corporate, industrial and financial institutions, and government entities. Lawyers across the European network focus primarily on corporate transactions, including domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions, private equity, capital markets, leveraged finance and banking, tax, corporate restructuring, and energy and projects.

What we’re looking for: We seek to recruit a small number of high-calibre graduates from any discipline to join our highly successful London office as trainee solicitors. We are looking for driven candidates who combine intellectual ability with enthusiasm, creativity and a demonstrable ability to rise to a challenge and to work with others towards a common goal.

What you’ll do: Drawing upon the experience and teaching abilities of our partners, associates and qualified external consultants, trainee solicitors are also offered regular training seminars, workshops and updates for associates at all levels and across our practice areas.

Perks: Bonus scheme, gym membership subsidy, pension scheme, life assurance, private healthcare, season ticket loan, subsidised restaurant.

Sponsorship: The firm pays for GDL and LPC course fees and provides a £10,000 maintenance grant for each year of these courses.