Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Cooley (UK) LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Cooley (UK) LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘The small trainee intake’, ‘diversity, equality and inclusion, as well as the tech specialism’, ‘aside from the obvious draw of tech heavy weights, I liked the variety of work that one was able to take on. You are not siloed (as you often are in bigger firms) into a particular area of a seat but are able to maintain a broad diet of work. The firm is always happy to help support you in exploring new practice areas whether that is space law, crypto-related disputes or ESG’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Friendly culture’, ‘the people and responsibility you can take on’, ‘approachable associates and partners’, ‘the women’s initiatives’, ‘there is no lunch-at-desk culture (unless absolutely necessary). It is a real, though often underestimated positive that everyone heads to lunch in our canteen at roughly the same time and – given you know most people – you can sit with anyone’, ‘people genuinely care about your opinions’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘They are not very clear with seat allocations’, ‘the IT systems’, ‘the open-plan office’, ‘the firm tries really hard to create a social scene, and the firm-sponsored events are great, but the spontaneous after-work drinks don’t really happen anymore post-Covid’, ‘it can be daunting to take all your questions to someone very senior if you are the only trainee in the team’

Best moment? ‘Speaking with clients’, ‘being told I’ve made a positive difference to the team’, ‘each time I got to lead a call with a CEO/CFO/CSO. It says something that there have been multiple opportunities to do so when I was closer to the material than anyone else’, ‘lunch everyday with colleagues – hearing about new cases, new developments and always keeping an ear out for pro bono initiatives you can get involved in (of which there are a lot!)’

Worst moment? ‘Quiet periods’, ‘putting too much pressure on myself’, ‘working around the clock while ill’, ‘working late on Friday nights’

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Cooley (UK) LLP

Cooley ‘should be the top choice for anyone wanting to work in life sciences or tech’. The US-headquartered firm’s ‘sector focus’, along with its ‘reputation, market-leading partners/associates, client work and small intake’ were among the many reasons trainees chose to start their career at the firm. As part of a small cohort, recruits ‘get lots of responsibility early on’ and are ‘treated like associates and feel embedded within the team’. Cooley is the deserving recipient of an impressive eight Future Lawyers Winner medals this year, namely quality of work, job satisfaction, client contact, vacation scheme, salary, sustainability, legal tech and diversity. The people at Cooley are ‘smart, capable and friendly’ and there is a ‘flat structure’, resulting in a non-hierarchical atmosphere. Negatives are that the ‘visibility of what seats are available isn’t always great’, as well as the fact that ‘you are nearly always the only trainee in your seat. This means that there is often no one to turn to who is at a similar level’. Being one of the only trainees in a team can also mean periods where long hours are the norm, although it is acknowledged that Cooley is much better in this regard than some of its US firm contemporaries. Recruits really enjoyed ‘having the opportunity to work directly with clients, being trusted to run processes independently’, and, especially, ‘leading a client call by myself’. Cooley’s pro bono efforts ‘are exceptional – pro bono is also billable. There are all manner of pro bono opportunities’. Trainees appreciate the flexibility afforded by the firm’s work-from-home policies, although ‘not all teams embrace it as much as others’, so there can be some inconsistency. If you like the sound of a training contract with a focus on tech and life sciences in a firm where trainees are respected and high levels of responsibility are the norm, research Cooley.

A day in the life of... Arsalan Shamsuddin, second-year trainee, Cooley (UK) LLP

Arsalan Shamsuddin, Cooley (UK) LLP

Departments to date: Equity capital markets; Antitrust; Corporate/M&A

University: University of Warwick

Degree: Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) (2.1)

8.00am: Being an early riser, I try to be as productive as possible with my morning routine. I get to the office early, review and organise emails (especially important in a corporate/M&A seat as you often work across multiple deals), and catch up on the business news. After about 15 minutes, I head to the gym (handily in the same building), do a quick workout and get ready for work.

9.00am: As I head back I make a detour to our Cooley barista bar, Arthur’s café (named after one of the founders of Cooley). I grab breakfast and while in line for coffee, chat to an associate in my team about our respective deals currently. I always have a catch up with the barista team too and today we talk about setting up a Cooley football team to play in a five-a-side league our building is planning.

9.30am: Once back from Arthur’s, I create my to-do list, based mainly on pre-standing tasks from the days before and any emails I flagged in the morning that should be addressed. I also take note of any updates, questions or points of clarification I have for the lawyers on the deals I’m on. I am currently working on a closing for an acquisition of a start-up client, a simple agreements for future equity (SAFE) funding round, a corporate approval for a buyback of shares, and a pro bono hearing scheduled for the afternoon. All quite different but really interesting and challenging matters, which is part of what makes the diet of work at Cooley so distinct.

10.00am: After setting my to-do list, I chat through with the lawyer on each respective matter at their desk (we’re open plan so we learn a lot this way). It’s helpful to run through the notes I made in the morning before starting the work to confirm that I am on the right track. It’s also important for them to know how I’ve progressed with the current workload.

10.30am: Having clarified my work and priority list, I start to work on my tasks. First, I call our pro bono client to confirm they have all the details and documents for that day’s online hearing. I then shift focus to the corporate approvals, where some shareholders have sent over questions. I also organise the signed shareholder resolutions we received overnight and add these to a tracker that calculates the percentage of votes we have (we need 75% to pass the approval). For the closing, I work on drafting director and company secretary resignation letters of the target and target company stock transfer forms and send these over to my supervisor on the deal for review. I get an email from a client to send out a new SAFE, so I update the template document we have and send that out to the client for signing.

12.30pm: For lunch, the usual spot is Arthur’s. Lots of lawyers have congregated to enjoy some time away from desks over lunch together. There’s always a wide variety on the menu. It’s another great opportunity to catch up with colleagues and the other trainees and enjoy some good food. Post-meal, a few of us grab another coffee to take down to our desks.

1.30pm: I prepare for the pro bono hearing reviewing the file and the client’s scenario, plus thinking about how best to organise and format the notes I’ll take. I catch up with the lawyer I am working with for this matter and agree the plan.

2.00pm: I sit in on the hearing and take notes. It’s my responsibility to produce an accurate account of the meeting so it’s important to listen and watch carefully and the time I spent prepping serves me well. The hearing was on a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) appeal, and the tribunal asked our client lots of questions about our prepared submissions. Our client was well-prepared and dealt with the questions well.

5.00pm: I receive edits for the post-completion documents I drafted earlier and some further tasks on closing. I update the documents to be in final form and save to the matter folder. An ad-hoc task has come in so I prepare a share certificate for a client. While finishing this off, I receive further signed shareholder resolutions for the corporate approval, so I update the tracker and the associate on our current percentage of votes.

6.30pm: I head up to Arthur’s for an internal all-office event called ‘Cooley Cool Down: Celebrating the NQs’ to celebrate the trainees who’ve just completed their training and qualified into the firm. All the trainees have been retained which is fantastic to see. There are some really nice, personalised touches (including refreshments named after each of the NQs) and as the sun sets across the City, our office space and the views come into their own! I enjoy catching up with colleagues across the firm.

8.00pm: After the social I return to my desk to check on any emails that have come through. We’ve received a request from the lawyers representing the buyer on the acquisition I’m on for final form change in people with significant control (PSC) letters. I had prepared these in advance so find what we need and forward those over before heading home.

About the firm

The firm: Cooley lawyers solve legal issues for entrepreneurs, investors, financial institutions and established companies. Clients partner with Cooley on transformative deals, complex IP and regulatory matters, and high-stakes litigation, often where innovation meets the law. Cooley has over 1,400 lawyers across 18 offices in the US, Asia and Europe, and a total workforce of over 3,000 worldwide.

The clients: Allergy Therapeutics; Brand Watch; Brainlabs; CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations); Ebay; Estée Lauder; Exscientia; Fitbit; General Catalyst; Government of the Turks & Caicos Islands; Humio; Immunocore; IQVIA; Meta; Odyssey Marine Exploration; Pizza Hut Restaurants; Snyk; Stanley Black and Decker; Super Group/Betway/Sports Entertainment Acquisition Corp; Tata Steel; Wizz Air; Zoom Video Communications.

The deals: Advised Exscientia on $510.4m upsized Nasdaq IPO of American Depository Shares and concurrent private placements to Softbank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; advised late-stage biotechnology company Immunocore on $312.1m equity offering, consisting of $297.1m IPO of American Depository Shares; advised Super Group, a holding company for online sports betting and gaming businesses Betway and Spin, on its merger with Sports Entertainment Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC); advised Brand Watch on its sale to Cision for $450m; represented General Catalyst and Accel in their investments in the $475m Series H financing of Monzo; advised Snyk, a cybersecurity software startup, on its $530m Series F financing, bringing the company’s valuation to $8.5bn; represented IQVIA, the world’s largest provider of biopharmaceutical development services, in its dispute with Cardiorentis, a Swiss pharma company which engaged IQVIA to conduct a global clinical trial in over 20 countries to test a heart failure treatment; represented the TCI Government in its civil recovery efforts; represented Odyssey Marine Exploration in an arbitration under Chapter 11 of North American Free Trade Agreement against Mexico (UNCITRAL Rules). See more at

CEO: Joe Conroy (Rachel Proffitt from 1 January 2024)

Managing partner (London): Justin Stock

Other offices:

Who we are: A law firm for the future. We are the counselors, strategists and advocates for today’s and tomorrow’s leaders of the business economy. As advisers to disrupters – particularly in the technology, life sciences and high-growth industries – we see first-hand the power of innovation. We think beyond the limits of technology to encompass leading-edge processes and individual talents for a unique blend that benefits our professionals, our clients and our communities. We seek to meet the evolving needs of our clients by building a community of professionals of the highest calibre who share our vision and embrace our values.

What we do: Cooley’s London office has built out robust practices, including corporate/M&A, finance, venture capital and private equity, capital markets, technology transactions, life sciences, complex high-stakes litigation, IP, product compliance, white-collar crime, tax, employment, competition and privacy among others. See for global practices and industries.

What we’re looking for: Curious individuals stimulated by solving business and legal challenges. Academic excellence, great analytical skills, a rigorous approach, plus demonstrating plenty of energy, drive, determination and a collaborative approach is key.

What you’ll do: Trainees rotate every six months through contentious and non-contentious areas. Smaller working teams mean exposure, responsibility and the opportunity to contribute in meaningful ways are significant. Extensive internal and external training and development programmes focus on progression as a true business lawyer.

Perks: Gym subsidy/health and fitness reimbursement, private healthcare, virtual GP services, dental plan, life assurance, wellness programme with coaching and therapy sessions, firm-paid massages, pension scheme with company contribution, mortgage surgeries, income protection, STL, employer-sponsored funds for fertility treatments and family-forming services, social and sporting events.

Sponsorship: After training place offer, PGDL/SQE fees plus maintenance bursary while studying now increased to £15,500 per year of study.

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