Featured I am an Associate at a Global Law Firm. Ask me Anything!

Discussion in 'Applications Discussion' started by LM, Jan 6, 2021.

  1. LM

    LM Star Member
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    Hi All,

    My name is LM and I am a Corporate Associate at a global law firm. I am pleased to announce that I have joined the TCLA forum team. I have just commenced a sabbatical to pursue further study and wanted to take this opportunity to share my experiences so far in the industry.

    I applied to several firms in 2016 while undertaking the GDL as a non-law student. Following successful vacation schemes across multiple firms, I commenced my training contract in 2017. During my training contract, I was fortunate enough to undertake an international secondment to the US and a client secondment. In 2018, I accepted a position as an Associate in the Firm's Corporate department.

    Please use this thread to ask me any questions relating to training contracts, secondments, the role of a Trainee or the role of an Associate.

    Thank you all for reading and I look forward to answering any questions you may have.

    Best,
    LM
     
    #1 LM, Jan 6, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2021
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  2. Jaysen

    Jaysen Legendary Member
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    Thanks @LM, delighted to have you join the TCLA team.

    I have known LM for some time and they have achieved many fantastic things during their training contract. I hope you guys find this to be a useful opportunity to ask questions you may not normally be able to!
     
    #2 Jaysen, Jan 6, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2021
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  3. Dheepa

    Dheepa Legendary Member
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    Hi @LM, great to have you on the forum! :)

    I think a hugely popular question on the forum and just generally really is whether US firm lawyers really do work longer hours than their UK firm counterparts. Would be great to get an insider view on this!
     
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  4. LM

    LM Star Member
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    Thanks @Jaysen for the kind words.

    While I shall be operating under a pseudonym, as @Jaysen has experienced from working with me in the past, I like to be transparent in all my content. Thus, please do not shy away from asking direct, intrusive or somewhat informal questions. I can't stress enough that there are no stupid questions and I want this to be a valuable experience for the whole TCLA community. As referred to in my original post, I feel most comfortable providing insight into the role of a trainee/associate; while I am happy to assist with application questions, you may find that other threads are better suited.

    Looking forward to answering all your questions!
     
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  5. WannabeSolicitor24

    WannabeSolicitor24 Valued Member

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    In your experience, do US firms live up to the "aggressive", "cutthroat", "awful places to work" tags that are often attributed to them?
     
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  6. LM

    LM Star Member
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    Thanks Dheepa for the warm introduction.

    It's a fantastic question to kick off this thread. During my vacation scheme, one Partner at the Firm I work at now provided a very fitting response to this exact question:

    "When working on a transaction, you will often find yourself across the table from someone your level at a Magic Circle law firm. Both of you will be up late ... but one of you is getting paid more."

    While I find it rather crass to bring money into the discussion, I do believe the Partner's response does have great weight to it. You will have late nights and you will have early finishes; this is the nature of the job. I do however find this blanket statement that US associates work harder than their UK counterparts to be rather unhelpful for future applicants. In my experience, what I have found to be more important about your working hours is: 1) the department; 2) the size of the team; and 3) how strong the department is (specifically in terms of the work they do). For example, if you are working as a Private Equity Associate at K&E, you will be working longer hours than most. This is NOT due to the fact it is a US firm (and not a UK firm); it is because it is a large, elite department in the city, in a practice area that has notoriously tough clients who work all hours.

    Please let me know if you would like me to expand further on the above.
     
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  7. Osh

    Osh Distinguished Member

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    If you have experience with PE work. If a firm is advising a company because that company is owned by a PE house, will that firm still receive work from the company after the PE house has existed the company by selling it or doing an IPO?
     
  8. sabma

    sabma Star Member

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    Hi @LM thanks for this thread.

    This sort of touches on the previous questions asked but what would you say are the main differences between a UK and US firm? Not just in terms of pay or work culture but also how they operate as businesses.

    Thanks
     
  9. LM

    LM Star Member
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    Thanks @WannabeSolicitor24. In short, I have found these labels to be inaccurate. While you may have higher target hours than UK firms, this doesn't make them "aggressive" nor does it make them "awful places to work". In fact, I believe I work at one of the nicest firms in the city. Often US firms that have offices in London operate as a satellite to their US HQs which means they do not adopt the aggressive US working culture. The horror stories you hear are more anomalies rather than consistent themes for US firms.
     
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  10. WannabeSolicitor24

    WannabeSolicitor24 Valued Member

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    Thank you for this. To follow up, do you think working for a Firm's satellite office can actually be an advantage (as is hinted at above) as I always thought that being a satellite office led to less good work (essentially UK aspects of a US-based deal), working at the whim of a US office's demands, etc. Interested in your thoughts on this!
     
  11. NK

    NK Distinguished Member

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    Hi @LM thank you for starting this thread. I am starting the GDL in the next two weeks and have been applying for various spring vacation schemes and direct training contracts. Do you have tips on how to balance the course whilst completing vacation schemes? I am slightly worried about missing lectures and seminars during the GDL and have, therefore, tried focusing on direct training contract applications - the only issue is that quite a few law firms prefer candidates to conduct a vacation scheme beforehand when applying for training contracts, hence I'm not quite sure what approach to take. I would really appreciate any advice on this - thank you once again!
     
  12. LM

    LM Star Member
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    Thanks @Osh. Most of the time they will, especially if they go on to acquire further targets. If we think about it in simple terms, the Law Firm knows the business; they conducted the preliminary due diligence; they know the management and its structure. This knowledge can potentially relate to cost savings which can be a key differentiator. However, sometimes things go sour or maybe the company has a different favoured counsel for post-PE transactions. There is no "one size fits all" approach but there is room to continue on the relationship.
     
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  13. LM

    LM Star Member
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    Thanks Sabma. In general, as often the London offices operate as satellite offices to the US HQ, the teams tend to be more Corporate focused, with much smaller teams in the advisory departments (e.g., EU, Competition and Trade, Employment or IP). This is primarily due to the fact that the Corporate transactions bring in the most revenue. Further, you tend to have less support services - by this, I mean less support from paralegals and from document management teams. These teams can be incredibly helpful when it comes to the more mundane tasks as a trainee (such as formatting client presentations as an example). Thus, as a trainee, you may find yourself at a US firm doing more mundane tasks that your counterparts at UK firms may not. While this may be perceived as a negative, due to the smaller teams, you will also have the opportunity to work closer with Partners and Associates. In my experience ... greater exposure = greater development.

    Let me know if you would like me to expand further on the above.
     
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  14. LM

    LM Star Member
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    Hi NK. So, I undertook the GDL from September to June so I only had limited experience of juggling studies while completing vacation schemes. However, I do have experience in applying for Firms while undertaking the GDL which may prove useful. In short, I would say that right now, time is your friend. You have identified an upcoming clash and now is the time to get ahead on your reading. Further, give yourself enough breathing space to block off the time needed for the vacation schemes and TC interviews. There would be nothing worse than to partake in a vacation scheme and not give it your all, while also letting your studies slip. Maybe this means working / studying on a few weekends? Maybe this means asking classmates for notes? No challenge is insurmountable and as long as you plan ahead and remain ahead, you can manage both. Best of luck!
     
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  15. nina_123

    nina_123 Star Member

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    Hi @LM, thanks for this thread!

    Do you have any advice/tips on how to convert a vac scheme into a TC offer? :) Thank you!!
     
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  16. LM

    LM Star Member
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    Thanks @WannabeSolicitor24. In short, yes I think it can. As I mentioned in an earlier response, unfortunately as a trainee, due to the lack of support staff at London satellite offices, you can be involved in more mundane tasks as a trainee. However, due to the smaller teams, you will also have the opportunity to work closer with Partners and Associates. This level of exposure can be invaluable and mean that you are more hands on in a deal than a UK counterpart. Of course, at times, you will have to respond to requests from other offices, but this is natural for any global law firm. Hopefully this helps!
     
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  17. Konstantinos

    Konstantinos Well-Known Member
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    Could you tell us about your US secondment? In which part of the US was it, and were you advising on US or UK law? How would you compare and contrast working in a BigLaw firm in the US vs the UK? Was it worthwhile?
     
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  18. ebitda

    ebitda New Member

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    Hi @LM, am due to start my TC soon and was wondering what were some things you wish you knew going into your TC? Is there anything you wish you did slightly differently looking back at your TC?

    Also curious to know what seats you did and why you chose to qualify into Corporate in the end, thanks!
     
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  19. LM

    LM Star Member
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    Thanks @Konstantinos. I was seconded to my Firm's New York office during my fourth seat. I was strictly advising on US law, while also assisting UK teams with US deals. Overall, I found the working culture to be massively different; US Partners are much more hands on during a transaction as clients are more willing to pay their fee. Further, I found that client's tend to remain loyal to a Partner and thus business relationships are incredibly important. I also found there to be less of an "open door" policy. At the beginning of my secondment, I had to knock on every single office door, introduce myself and prove my worth. This can be daunting to some but I found it to be an incredible learning experience. My skin definitely became a lot thicker during the 6 months I spent in New York!

    Overall, I would say that any secondment is worthwhile, as it gives you a clearer understanding of how the Firm operates as a business and provides an opportunity to establish business connections.
     
    #19 LM, Jan 6, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2021
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  20. LM

    LM Star Member
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    Hi @ebitda. I am so glad you asked this question - I am in the process of preparing a course for the TCLA on this exact topic. I therefore encourage you to visit it once it is up!

    So as to not take away too much from the course, I shall just cover some of the salient points about what I wish I had known before starting my TC. Firstly, I wish I had dispelled all my pre-existing thoughts on a particular department. I went into my TC thinking I would never enjoy Corporate work, but when I was placed into the Corporate department during my first seat, I absolutely loved it. While this wasn't a hinderance, it may have saved weeks of worry and overthinking. Secondly, never feel like an imposter. Trainees often hold back from volunteering for tasks because they feel like they are not "worthy" or are afraid of making mistakes; I still make mistakes as an associate, but without learning from these mistakes, you will never develop and you may miss out on a great opportunity. Finally, do your research. Before starting your TC, it can be incredibly helpful to know what type of work you will be doing and the opportunities available in that department. By doing this, it can be easier to map out your TC and seize every opportunity available.

    In regard to your second question, there isn't anything I wish I had done differently. My journey was my journey and I qualified into a fantastic department, doing the work I love. I was also able to undertake a client and international secondment, which is also quite rare. I do wish I was able to experience more advisory departments, however, this is the issue with only undertaking four seats!

    Finally, in regard to your last question, I did the following seats:
    Seat 1 - Corporate
    Seat 2 - Client Secondment
    Seat 3 - Antitrust / EU Competition
    Seat 4 - International Secondment

    I qualified into Corporate because I found it best suited my personality. I like the rush of a deal and being at the center of the negotiations. In particular, I enjoy drafting, which is quite a key feature of the role of an associate in a Corporate department.

    Hopefully this helps!
     
    #20 LM, Jan 6, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2021
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