Survey Results - Trainee feedback on White & Case LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on White & Case LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘The international opportunities provided’; ‘global reach, a good number of trainees, a sense of growth, good culture, strong reputation’; ‘guaranteed seat abroad’; ‘high-quality work, especially in project finance and disputes’; ‘as strong in London as it is in America’; ‘world-class arbitration team’; ‘the collaborative environment’; ‘competitive pay’; ‘size in London compared to other US-headquartered firms’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Little hierarchy’; ‘global opportunities’; ‘the international nature of the work’; ‘it’s a very friendly firm and some people do encourage trainees to have a work/life balance’; ‘international secondment and client secondment opportunities’; ‘free dinners after 6pm’; ‘the repeat big-name clients’; ‘the newly-revamped canteen (called Broad Street Kitchen)’; ‘the diversity and the fact that the firm is not complacent and continues to make strides in this regard’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘It seems like they are still adapting to the doubling of the intake size. Allocation of seats abroad is becoming more complicated and competitive’; ‘lack of work/life balance’; ‘sometimes a lack of clarity about how much responsibility you are expected to take on’; ‘limited diversity in the corporate M&A team’; ‘there aren’t many recreational spaces to relax/de-stress’; ‘the associate pay’

Best moment? ‘Responsibility for a workstream on a deal, working alone on it with the partner with no associate in between’; ‘the trainee induction bonding activities’; ‘being told I was integral to the matter I had worked on for six months’; ‘celebrating the filing of a pleading that I spent almost six months helping to draft’; ‘receiving very positive feedback after a challenging and busy period’

Worst moment? ‘Working with difficult associates’; ‘doing administrative tasks at 3am’; ‘staying until 8am alone in the office in the weeks before my main hearing’; ‘being slammed on a signing’; ‘working for 24 hours over a weekend at short notice’; ‘not being able to switch off from work’; ‘struggling with my supervisor’s work routine (or lack thereof) and having to adjust to it’; ‘long hours’

The Lex 100 verdict on White & Case LLP

The firm: White & Case is a global law firm of more than 2,000 lawyers worldwide. They’ve built an unrivalled network of 44 offices in 30 countries. That investment is the foundation for their client work in 180 countries today. Complex client projects, nuanced local market knowledge and global capabilities define who they are. Many White & Case clients are multinational organisations with complex needs that require the involvement of multiple offices. As part of their training contract, they offer every trainee a guaranteed six-month overseas seat.

The deals and disputes: Represented Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy on the c€15bn financing of its acquisition of Tiffany & Co, the global luxury jeweller; represented the lenders on the €1.1bn syndicated Green Loan provided to .italo NTV, Europe’s leading highspeed rail operator; represented GSO Capital Partners and its affiliates on a three tier financing package to support Advent International’s £4bn acquisition of leading global technology and services innovator Cobham plc; representation of the financiers on a landmark US$20bn project financing of Mozambique’s first onshore LNG development, Mozambique LNG, one of the largest project financings to go to market in Africa; represented Avast, the leading global cybersecurity provider, in connection with its £602m IPO on the London Stock Exchange; representation of US satellite group EchoStar on its attempted US$3.2bn takeover of Inmarsat, the UK-based, FTSE 250 satellite operator; representing a leading global financial institution in investigations by the European Commission, the US Department of Justice, the US CFTC, the UK FCA and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on the setting of LIBOR, EURIBOR and SIBOR; representing the contractors in a multibillion-dollar dispute with the Panama Canal Authority relating to the US$5.5bn Panama Canal expansion project.

The clients: Nestle, Rio Tinto, Barclays Bank, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Toshiba, Klarna, Bud Financial, Energean Oil & Gas, GSO Partners, Goldman Sachs.

The verdict

White & Case is ‘genuinely diverse and international’. The global firm boasts a ‘great reputation in arbitration and project finance’ and offers trainees ‘a guaranteed overseas secondment, prestige and a good salary’. Beyond the training contract, ‘there seems to be a definite desire to help junior lawyers grow through their careers to partnership’. Numerous respondents had been impressed by the ‘collegiate, open-door culture that the firm very evidently displayed during the vacation scheme’. Recruits appreciate the impressive ‘amount of formal training and learning opportunities available’ and love ‘being treated as a valued member of the team even though you are at trainee level’. It comes as no surprise that White & Case is a Lex 100 Winner for international secondments: a ‘fabulous opportunity’ and an ‘invaluable experience’, made even more enjoyable by a ‘smooth transition’ thanks to the firm’s organisation. Not only are the staff friendly, they are also ‘very entrepreneurial. They think like business people, not just like lawyers. They position themselves ahead of the competition and are very alert to what’s going on in the market’. The main drawbacks are the ‘lack of natural light in the office’, the ‘NQ pay compared to some other US-headquartered firms’ and the ‘long hours’ and sometimes ‘unrealistic expectations’ in this respect. Particularly bad memories were ‘having to work while on annual leave’, ‘staying at work on Friday night waiting for signature pages that never arrived’ and ‘having to re-do an entire document collation’. Thankfully, these were counteracted with stimulating moments such as ‘working on a really interesting and high-profile case with a fantastic supervisor’ and ‘going on a business trip to Colombia’. For a firm whose ‘thinking is global’ throughout, consider White & Case.

A day in the life of… Abigail Kolawole, trainee, White & Case LLP

Abigail Kolawole, White & Case LLP

Departments to date: Capital markets-securitisation, corporate-tax

University: University of Southampton

Degree: LLB International Legal Studies (First class, top of year)

8.15am: An early start today. Luckily, I start my working day with a seat on the train. I use my commute to read the news and any business articles in my inbox, to build up the important skill of ‘commercial awareness’. I also check my calendar for the day.

8.45am: I arrive, not at the White & Case office, but at a High Commission. Today is going to be a busy day; we are updating a global medium term note (GMTN) programme. After obtaining and getting the necessary legal documents signed by the High Commissioner, I make my way into the White & Case London office.

10.00am: I update my colleagues on the circulation of legal documents. We are acting as issuer’s counsel on the deal, so I also update the dealer and manager’s counsel, particularly asking for any outstanding comments on legal documents that are in circulation.

10.30am: I check my to-do list and attend a pre-launch bring down due diligence call.

10.45am: I walk around the office to have a chat with my colleagues about their week and how their various work streams are going.

11.00am: I start emailing clearing houses for securities, to ensure everything is in place to update the GMTN programme.

11.30am: I read my emails, collating comments from various parties in regards to the preliminary base prospectus, and update the preliminary base prospectus accordingly.

1.00pm: Lunchtime. I meet my colleagues in the canteen to have lunch. I am a meal prep person so I am excited to tuck into what I have cooked for the week. I catch up with my colleagues and after a few laughs, take a walk outside for some fresh air.

1.45pm: Telephone calls to the client.

3.00pm: Telephone call to the FCA regarding the approval of the final base prospectus.

3.20pm: Review of the 232 page preliminary base prospectus. Following up with dealers and manager’s counsel on the verification process. I brew myself a nice Earl Grey tea and eat some fruit for an afternoon sugar boost. The nearest kitchen to me is shared with the real estate team, so I use this time to have a catch up with colleagues.

7.00pm: Dinner.

7.30pm: We are getting close now. At this stage, I focus on ensuring all parties have signed off on the preliminary base prospectus. I send out the final preliminary base prospectus for distribution (in time for the operation of the New York market) and wish everyone well on the roadshow process.

8.00pm: We have a dart board in the office and the team get together to throw some celebratory darts to congratulate each other on a great team performance.

8.30pm: I break down the next stages of the deal with an associate and write my to-do list for tomorrow. As part of a White & Case pro bono project, I prepare a CV mentoring session for an upcoming meeting with my mentee (a law student at Queen Mary’s University). I finish the working day by writing and releasing my time entries.

9.30pm: In the taxi home, I reflect on a busy day, which has flown by, and how I am proud and grateful to be part of White & Case.

About the firm

Managing partner: Melissa Butler

Other offices: 44 offices worldwide, spanning 30 countries.

Who we are: White & Case is a global law firm of more than 2,000 lawyers worldwide. We’ve built an unrivalled network of 44 offices in 30 countries. That investment is the foundation for our client work in 180 countries today. Complex client projects, nuanced local market knowledge and global capabilities define who we are.

What we do: As a White & Case lawyer, you’ll work on fast-paced cutting-edge cross-border projects from the outset of your career. Many White & Case clients are multinational organisations with complex needs that require the involvement of multiple offices.

What we’re looking for: White & Case is looking to recruit ambitious trainees who have a desire to gain hands-on practical experience from day one and a willingness to take charge of their own career. We value globally-minded citizens of the world who are eager to work across borders and cultures, and who are intrigued by solving problems within multiple legal systems. They should have an understanding of international commercial issues and an interest in working on big-ticket, cross-border work. We recruit both law and non-law students and owing to the nature of our work, language skills are of interest.

What you’ll do: The training contract consists of four six-month seats, one of which is guaranteed to be spent in one of our overseas offices. The remaining three seats can be spent in any one of the Firm’s practice groups in London. Receiving a high level of partner and senior associate contact from day one, our trainees can be confident that they will receive high-quality, stimulating and rewarding work.

Perks: In addition to our core benefits (including a pension, private medical insurance and life insurance) and flexible benefits (including cycle to work scheme, season ticket loan and dental insurance) every employee receives a wellness spending account where you can be reimbursed up to £500 per year towards the cost of fitness activities, gym memberships and relaxation services.

Sponsorship: Course fees paid for GDL and LPC and maintenance grant of £7,500 for GDL and £10,500 for LPC.