Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Akin

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Akin

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘The reputation of the firm, the size of the trainee cohort and responsibility that went with that, as well as the quality of work and calibre of colleagues. Additionally, the firm’s strengths in practice areas aligned nicely with my own interests – I liked that it wasn’t a full-service firm and was focused on bolstering strengths in the practice areas it was already highly regarded in’, ‘autonomy, quality of work, pro bono opportunities’, ‘small trainee intake’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Pay, culture, independence’, ‘the amount of client contact, and the autonomy and responsibility I have in running matters’, ‘the people’, ‘the quality of work given to trainees’, ‘as generic as it may sound, the people at Akin are what makes it a truly fantastic place to work’, ‘I’ve formed a lot of incredibly meaningful relationships at the firm, which I value hugely’, ‘collegiate atmosphere’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘I think that there could be more of a social side to work. That said, we are still in the post-pandemic period and this may yet change’, ‘long hours’, ‘some people are very serious, can be unfriendly, hierarchical, just very professional and no sharing of personal life at all’, ‘there could definitely be more of a social life cultivated at the firm’

Best moment? ‘Being trusted enough to manage workstreams independently’, ‘sitting in a meeting regarding a particularly complex ongoing deal around three months into my first seat. Reaching the point of broader understanding of the transaction’s considerations to a point where all points discussed during the meeting made sense was particularly satisfying’, ‘attending a closing dinner two months into my training contract with a fantastic deal team and great client! It was a deal I was very heavily involved in with a very small deal team (just three of us at the end)’

Worst moment? ‘There have certainly been a few very late nights, but the imposed deadlines are always necessary and rationalised. Members of the firm, in my experience, try to avoid imposing difficult artificial deadlines whenever possible’, ‘adjusting to the (sometimes quite sudden) peaks and troughs of the work. It can be quite jarring to be consistently busy and working late for two months straight, and then have your work suddenly drop off a cliff after a deal closes!’, ‘working until the early hours of the morning’

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Akin

‘Beyond the appeal of a smaller trainee intake and quality of work undertaken by the firm, the vacation scheme highlighted the fantastically friendly and supportive work culture at Akin’, said one survey respondent. ‘Money, culture and training’ were some of the other reasons trainees applied to the London Spitalfields-based US firm. When it comes to the people, ‘everyone is generally friendly and unique in their own ways, and there certainly does not seem to be any kind of Akin cookie-cutter’. Elaborating on their colleagues, another recruit waxes lyrical: ‘they are not only some of the best in the industry, who I am privileged to learn from every single day, but also the kindest, friendliest people who have a vested interest in making sure you’re being trained to be the best you can possibly be’. Trainees were impressed with ‘the level of early responsibility the work offers, and just how complex and unique that work is’. Akin is a Future Lawyers winner for job satisfaction, confidence of being kept on post qualification and salary (the firm currently offers the highest NQ salary in the UK). Despite all the positives, trainees feel like there isn’t enough of a social life at Akin, something which could be ‘in part to do with the fact that the trainee cohorts are small, and lawyers are obviously very busy people’. The ‘low office attendance’ is also a downside for new recruits trying to get to know their colleagues better. ‘Having to cancel weekend plans to work’ and ‘not being communicated with properly and going through a period of very limited supervision’ were worst moments.  On the plus side, highlights included ‘being an integral part of a deal’s scheme passing’, ‘working directly with partners’ and ‘being personally asked for advice by the CEO of a listed company’. For ‘excellent remuneration, exciting work and the chance to get stuck in’, take a closer look at Akin.

A day in the life of... James Lack, trainee, Akin

James Lack, Akin

Departments to date: Incentives (first seat); Hedge funds (current seat)

University: Manchester University University of Law

Degree: Nuclear Engineering (MEng), GDL, LPC LLM

9.00am: I arrive at the office and check my emails for any developments on client matters, as well as market news and knowledge management updates from the BVCA, AIMA, and The Lawyer. Recent interesting updates have covered a prospective court case regarding taxation of carried interest, and the progression of AIFMD II.

9.30am: It’s the hedge funds departmental daily catch up. All of the team members talk briefly about an interesting matter they’re working on in the
coming days, then the partners share any client and firm news, as well as technical know-how.

10.00am: I send follow-up emails on various matters and other administrative tasks. I also draft the agenda for today’s 5pm weekly catch-up call with one of our clients.

10.30am: I start work on drafting tasks. These comprise the majority of my work in hedge funds, and I’ve worked on fund offering documents, subscription documents, procurement agreements, investment advisory agreements, AIFM agreements, CPO delegation agreements, side letters, directors written resolutions, fund launch minutes, and limited partnership agreements – basically the entire suite of fund documents. Sometimes I’m making amendments to existing documents, others I’m creating totally new documents for a fund launch. Being trusted to work on the most important agreements and seeing your work approved by seniors is definitely a highlight of the job.

12.30pm: Lunch with other trainees in the staff cafe. A few of us usually meet, depending upon who’s in the office and available, and chat about our work and seat rotations, as well as current affairs and what’s going on in our personal lives.

1.30pm: After lunch I chat with my supervisor or other team members to ask questions about the work I’m doing and about funds law generally.

1.45pm: I continue my drafting from the morning. Often, if my supervisor has calls with clients during the afternoon, I listen in to these too – funds law involves a lot of problem-solving, so it’s interesting to hear issues being discussed and decisions being made, and you learn a lot about specific regulatory issues when you hear them come up in a practical context.

3.15pm: Coffee run with hedge funds team colleagues.

3.30pm: I finish drafting the documents I’m working on. I then run ‘redlines’ – a colour-coded comparison – against the base precedent or previous draft, and print those out and review them, which I find makes it easier to spot any small errors or corrections, to make sure it’s perfect.

4.30pm: I draft an email to the client, explaining what I’ve done, listing all of the documents I’m sending, and asking for review/approval. I send this to my supervisor to review the documents and the email before it goes to the client. Seeing amendments made to the work you’ve done by more experienced lawyers I find to be a great way of learning and improving.

5.00pm: The weekly client catch-up call is usually led by the partners, so I attend to listen and take notes. It’s interesting to listen in on how all of that client’s matters are progressing, and there’s often something new to learn, particularly from the US partners when they talk about US regulatory issues.

5.30pm: I send out my client email, with any amendments from my supervisor, with the documents I’ve drafted during the day.

5.45pm: I discuss today’s work with my supervisor, for any feedback and advice he might have, and talk about prospective projects I might work on next. I finish off by filing my emails from the day.

6.30pm: The funds group has regular social events with the private equity team, as well as with clients, offshore law firms and charitable events. Today, we’re going go-boating near Canary Wharf, with go-karting, rounders and drinks events having featured in the past.

About the firm

The firm: Akin is a global law firm with more than 900 lawyers
and advisors who pride themselves on dedication to their clients and their communities. With 18 offices worldwide, the firm is renowned for numerous market-leading practices, its strengths in complex transactions and restructurings, high-stakes litigation, public policy and regulatory
matters, and its unyielding pro bono commitment.

The firm is intentional about fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace where all employees are supported and given the tools to succeed. Akin is focused on recruiting and nurturing the next generation of exceptional legal talent and is proud that its recruitment and professional development efforts are recognised as among the best in the industry.

The clients: Apollo, Bain Capital, Barings, Carlyle, Coller Capital, Elliott, Endava, Ericsson, Fortenova, GIC, Helios, ICG, Mubadala, Nexperia, Oaktree, Olin Corporation, PGIM, Taconic, VEON, Vivo Energy and Vitol.

 The deals: Advised Vitol on a $2.3bn takeover of Vivo Energy; advised the ad hoc committee of noteholders in relation to the financial restructuring and outstanding debt liabilities of LSE-listed Nostrum Oil & Gas plc – following Nostrum entering a forbearance agreement and lock-up agreement with the ad hoc group of noteholders, Nostrum launched an English scheme to restructure $1.125bn of notes, which involved a deleveraging debt-for-debt and debt-for-equity swap; advised Helios Investment Partners, the largest Africa-focused private investment firm, on the completion of the sale of Solevo, a leading African distributor of speciality chemicals, to Development Partners International (DPI).

Partner in charge: Sebastian Rice

Other offices: Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Boston, Dallas, Dubai, Fort Worth, Geneva, Hong Kong, Houston, Irvine, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Francisco, Singapore, Washington DC.

Who we are: Akin ’s London office is the hub of the firm’s international offices, partnering with clients from established industries and cutting-edge markets to deliver creative solutions to business-critical issues, helping them seize opportunities and anticipate challenges. Driven by the firm’s forward-thinking
leadership, Akin has built a strong culture of innovation and collaboration as well as a talented and diverse workforce committed to the success of its clients and each other.

What we do: Market-leading practices include financial restructuring, corporate transactions (including mergers and acquisitions and joint ventures), private equity, finance (including debt finance and project finance), energy including renewables, debt and equity capital markets, financial services regulatory, disputes, international arbitration, investment funds (including hedge and private equity funds and secondaries transactions), international trade – including in relation to the new National Security & Investment law – as well as EU/UK competition, share incentives and tax.

What we’re looking for: We seek team players who demonstrate enthusiasm and an interest in the commercial world, as well as intellectual curiosity and a focus on solutions. We recruit up to eight trainees every year so you’ll be integral to the team from day one. To succeed, you’ll enjoy deep thinking in an immersive learning model and be keen to take on early responsibility within a fast-paced business law environment.

What you’ll do: You’ll experience on-the-job experiential learning which will allow you to develop a keen commercial awareness and to take on responsibility and ownership of tasks for each practice area you work in. Examples of tasks you may be involved in during your training include, but are not restricted to, legal research, preparing client communications, attending client meetings, organising deal closing checklists and preparing trial bundles. You’ll receive supportive supervision from England and Wales-qualified practitioners with valuable ongoing feedback and two substantive evaluations during each seat.

You will attend regular practice group and office-wide training on relevant areas of law and practical skills. You will also join webinars and training sessions run by external consultants to aid your professional development throughout your two-year training programme and beyond.

Akin prides itself on a friendly, approachable culture and a strong support network. Our trainee development team and dedicated development partners will coach and guide you throughout the two years. We also have a buddy system, providing you with a peer mentor who can tell you things that formal training can’t and junior associate mentors to support you within each practice area. We have an in-house ‘Be Well’ counselling service which offers unlimited one-on-one support, as well as regular group training sessions.

Perks: Season ticket loan, health insurance, critical illness insurance, life insurance, travel insurance, dental insurance, pension, annual eye exam, employee assistance programme, onsite wellbeing adviser, discounted ClassPass, Peloton and gym rates, fitness reimbursement programme, virtual clinic service.

Sponsorship : Successful applicants will be required to complete the PGDL (if applicable) and LLM Legal Practice (SQE1&2) to equip them with
essential skills prior to starting their qualifying work experience. Our legal education provider is The University of Law and studies will be funded by the firm. We provide a maintenance grant of £15,000 per year of study to our future trainees

Diversity and Inclusion

Percentage of female associates: 48.14%

Percentage of female partners: 26%

Percentage of BAME associates: 37.04%

Percentage of BAME partners: 12%