Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Norton Rose Fulbright

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Norton Rose Fulbright

Why did you choose this firm over any others?  ‘Great quality of work with a great culture’, ‘the opportunity to work abroad’, ‘everyone is incredibly intelligent and high achieving’, ‘reputation’, ‘international secondment opportunities are unmatched at the firm’, ‘due to its strong energy practices and international work in developing nations’, ‘NRF invests a lot in you: paying for your legal education and giving you maintenance payments to live on while you study, which is certainly an advantage’ 

What is the best thing about the firm?  ‘How friendly everyone is across all levels’, ‘its international and secondment opportunities’, ‘its people’, ‘quality of work’, ‘some of the teams – particularly the banking teams – really are at the top of their fields’, ‘learning from senior fee earners is really inspirational’, ‘the office and the culture’, ‘quality of work and supportive fee earners’ 

What is the worst thing about the firm?  ‘Demanding hours’, ‘HR department can be slow at responding’, ‘the benefits and rewards’, ‘the trainee development team is a bit disorganised at times’, ‘seat rotation process’, ‘not many in-office perks’, ‘remuneration’, ‘the firm’s IT’, ‘our tech is not as good compared to other firms, so there is definitely a sense that the firm could do more to invest in trainees’ 

What has been the best moment of your training to date?  ‘Drafting a memo from scratch in the first half of my first seat’, ‘attending a site visit with the real estate department’, ‘direct contact with clients from all over the world’, ‘receiving very positive feedback from my seat supervisor’, ‘helping to draft a statement of defence from scratch’, ‘working on headline-grabbing deals’, ‘working with supportive fee earners’ 

What has been the worst moment of your training to date?  ‘Battling IT issues in the first week of my training contract’, ‘working late whilst ill’, ‘getting an angry email from a senior associate at midnight in my first week’, ‘members of certain teams aren’t always understanding if you are ill’, ‘having to stay online until 12/1am for work that never came in’, ‘pulling all-nighters and working weekends’ 

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright’s ‘international environment’ attracted applicants. That,  and the fact that it is ‘one of the biggest and most prestigious firms in the world’. Most respondents ‘wanted the opportunity to work abroad’, and at Norton Rose Fulbright ‘overseas seats are almost guaranteed’. From Australia to Dubai to Tokyo to Greece, trainees are spoilt for choice when it comes to international secondments, hence the Future Lawyers Winner medal in this category. The training is ‘amazing: each week the firm circulates webinars, e-learning, talks and classes you can get involved in’. But the majority consider ‘the people’ to be the best thing about Norton Rose Fulbright. Praise also abounded for ‘how diverse and inclusive the firm is’, ‘the friendly and supportive culture and social life’ and the ‘fantastic office overlooking Tower Bridge – definitely the best out of all the London law firm offices’! Nevertheless, recruits would like to see more ‘perks’ such as ‘more gym contributions, corporate discounts, or even extra pension contributions.’ Best moments included ‘receiving positive feedback from a seat supervisor’ and ‘helping to draft a statement of defence from scratch’. One respondent’s worst moment was ‘a particularly difficult period where there were consistent late nights’ and ‘working from home’, which ‘had its low moments and it was hard to keep morale high.’ If you are looking for a firm with guaranteed international secondments, ongoing learning, a large variety of practice areas and a ‘reputation for excellence’ consider Norton Rose Fulbright. 

A day in the life of... Stephen Hedges, trainee, Norton Rose Fulbright

Stephen Hedges, Norton Rose Fulbright

Departments to date: Corporate, M&A and securities; Asset finance (aviation); Antitrust and competition

University: King's College London

Degree: BA (Hons) History

9.30am: I make my way into the office. The firm are flexible on what days we should attend in person but I usually try and do three days so I can meet directly with associates and partners I am working with in the corporate team. I chat to some of the associates on the way in. When I get to my desk I check whether there have been any emails overnight and start a to-do list of tasks I need to tackle.

10.30am: I have been working on a takeover for the past few weeks with two partners, a senior associate and another trainee. Takeover matters tend to be very busy and fast moving; the five of us are the primary team for the matter so it has been very hands-on and fast-paced. We meet to listen into a client call; I take some notes on areas of relevance to my specific workstreams.

11.30am: After chatting with the team about what workstreams to prioritise I start progressing verification notes for a document our client intends to publish, outlining its views on the takeover. The task involves checking that each of our client’s statements in the document can be backed up with evidence supporting them. I review supporting documents provided by the client and update the notes.

1.00pm: I grab lunch with some of the trainees in my cohort who are also in the office. The office has a canteen with a range of options daily – I settle on the chicken katsu and spend some time catching up with the trainees working in different parts of the firm.

2.00pm: After a final check I send off the verification notes to the senior associate for his comments. While waiting for feedback I work on drafting a set of board minutes, and other corporate documentation, for a client planning an internal corporate reorganisation. Although my supervisor is there to assist with any questions, and will review the draft documents, I manage this process myself which is great for gaining drafting knowledge and experience.

4.00pm: The senior associate and I meet to discuss his feedback on the verification notes; we discuss outstanding areas and, together, draft an email to the client requesting clarification on certain points. Meeting in person and discussing work on matters is hugely beneficial, and the senior associate takes time to explain each step and consider what we need next. Once back at my desk I send off the email directly to the client; there is an emphasis at the firm on ensuring trainees get direct client contact when possible, and it’s a great chance to work on my skills in this area.

5.30pm: I answer a request on another matter from my supervisor; a client has asked for certain amendments to be made to a loan agreement which it is negotiating, and has asked us to draft an amendment letter setting these out. My supervisor asks me to have a first go at drafting the letter; I review precedents and consider what the letter should say, taking notes and then creating a structure which I then type up for my supervisor to review.

7.00pm: There is no face-time culture at the firm so once I’m done with work for the day I head off back home.

About the firm

The firm: Global firm Norton Rose Fulbright has more than 3,700 lawyers and other legal staff based in Europe, the US, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Africa. The firm is recognised for its strength in the energy, projects and natural resources sector and for its banking capabilities.

The clients: AIG; BNP Paribas; Citi; HSBC; Pfizer; Rio Tinto; Shell; Vodafone.

The deals: Advised Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company PJSC – Masdar on its agreement with the Government of Uzbekistan to build a 500MW wind project, which will be the largest windfarm in Central Asia once completed; advised global technical industrial services provider KAEFER Group on its acquisition of the UK and Ireland industrial services business of John Wood Group PLC for US$104m with a further payment of up to US$14 m pending achievement of agreed financial goals; advised Gore Street Energy Storage Fund PLC, London’s first stock market listed energy storage fund, on its acquisition of Ferrymuir Energy Storage Limited; advised Total on the acquisition from SSE Renewables of a majority stake in the Seagreen 1 offshore wind farm project, which has simultaneously reached financial close on its project finance; advising longstanding client Carlsberg on its proposed deal with Marston’s plc to form a new joint venture beer company in the UK, Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company; advised UK Finance, the leading industry body for banking and financial services, and a consortium of seven of the UK’s largest retail and corporate banks on the launch of the UK Government’s Bounce Back Loan Scheme.

Chair of Europe, Middle East and Asia: Farmida Bi

UK offices: London

Overseas offices: Amsterdam, Athens, Austin, Bangkok, Beijing, Brisbane, Brussels, Bujumbura**, Calgary, Canberra, Cape Town, Casablanca, Dallas, Denver, Dubai, Durban, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Harare**, Hong Kong, Houston, Istanbul, Jakarta*, Johannesburg, Kampala**, London, Los Angeles, Luxembourg, Melbourne, Mexico City, Milan, Minneapolis, Monaco, Montréal, Moscow, Munich, Newcastle, New York, Nairobi **, Ottawa, Paris, Perth, Piraeus, Quebec, Riyadh*, San Antonio, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore, St Louis, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, Vancouver, Warsaw, Washington DC. *Associated offices ** Alliance offices

Who we are: We provide the world’s preeminent corporations and financial institutions with a full business law service. We have more than 3,700 lawyers and other legal staff based in Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Africa.

Recognised for our industry focus, we are strong across all the key industry sectors: financial institutions; energy; infrastructure, mining and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; and life sciences and healthcare. Through our global risk advisory group, we leverage our industry experience with our knowledge of legal, regulatory, compliance and governance issues to provide our clients with practical solutions to the legal and regulatory risks facing their businesses.

Wherever we are, we operate in accordance with our global business principles of quality, unity and integrity. We aim to provide the highest possible standard of legal service in each of our offices and to maintain that level of quality at every point of contact.

What we do: Our London office delivers domestic and multi-jurisdictional legal services to corporates, financial institutions, governments and other public sector organisations. We excel across a range of legal practices, including corporate, M&A and securities; banking and finance; dispute resolution and litigation; real estate; antitrust and competition; tax; employment and labour; intellectual property; regulation and investigations; and risk advisory. We also advise on US law, and we have a world-leading Islamic finance practice. We are particularly well-known for our focus on industry sectors and are strong in financial institutions, including insurance; energy; infrastructure, mining and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; and life sciences and healthcare.

What we’re looking for: There’s no progress more vital than what you’ll experience on our training contracts. Over two years – broken into four six-month seats – you’ll hit all kinds of new firsts with us, big and small. You’ll explore new areas, for instance. Each seat will take you through different sectors and practice areas, with compulsory seats in both banking and corporate. One of your seats will almost certainly be on secondment too – your first encounter with working in a new country, or maybe six months spent working in a client office. As you move from one milestone to the next, you’ll have a sizeable team at your back. A partner mentor to turn to and to learn from. A trainee buddy to teach you the ropes. And the whole trainee development team, to keep you on track from day to day.

An impeccable academic record and intellectual rigour are prerequisites. We expect successful candidates to have at least AAB at A level (or equivalent) and be on track for a 2:1 (or equivalent).

You’ll have an enquiring mind, strong interpersonal skills, and the motivation to make constant progress. You’ll never stop pushing yourself forward, grasping every opportunity – both at home and abroad – that our firm has to offer. You’ll be interested in business too, and keen to build relationships within a firm that’ll help you make progress with purpose.

Mentoring: Our mentoring scheme will help you make the most of the incredible depth of knowledge and experience across the organisation. Your mentor will offer you everything from career insights to resolving any concerns you may have.

Working together: We pride ourselves on our supportive culture that thrives on collaboration and encourages networking with your trainee colleagues, lawyers and partners. You will also help to choose – or become – one of two trainee representatives. These meet once a quarter to provide feedback, raise

Your development: When we hire you, we are making an investment. We ensure we all get the maximum return on this by providing the highest standards of training. Becoming an outstanding lawyer is about continuous development – we will make sure you are challenged and rewarded in equal measure.

Work placements: Finding the place you want to start your career is a moment you’ll always remember, and that’s exactly the kind of insight we offer on our vacation schemes. Whether you’re with us virtually or in person, we pack a lot into these four schemes. You’ll network with colleagues, attend talks with some of our leading lawyers, join exciting workshops, and even present group projects on legal issues. It’s a lot of new ground to cover, but if you want to understand what it’s really like to work here, nothing else comes close.

First-year opportunities: Everyone remembers the first day they walked through the doors of their future firm. For many of our lawyers, that happens on our First Year Open Day, a day designed to give all first-year undergraduates of all degree subjects (and second years of a four-year course) a taste of life at a global law firm. This is a great opportunity to make a first impression, talk to our trainees and partners, and learn about the culture of Norton Rose Fulbright, determining if law is the career for you.

Vacation schemes: Finding the place you want to start your career is a moment you’ll always remember, and that’s exactly the kind of insight we offer on our vacation schemes. The scheme will involve interactive sessions with senior stakeholders, group and individual assessments, engaging workshops, as well as a partner supervisor and trainee buddy to support you throughout the week. There will also be a training contract interview on the last day. Our vacation schemes offer you an unparalleled insight into the life, work and culture of who we are, giving you the chance to see if we are the firm for you.

Business and legal operations graduate scheme: The delivery of legal services is changing. This doesn’t just involve the emergence of new technology, it involves the increasingly crucial role played by other technical disciplines in providing more complex and sophisticated client solutions, and optimising our performance as a business.

Our business and legal operations graduate scheme is a two-year programme encompassing every aspect of the rapid changes currently underway in the delivery of high-end legal services. This two-year programme will mirror our traditional training contract for new lawyers, but with a focus on different disciplines, including innovation, commercial management, and legal product design. This is an exciting opportunity for those who want to progress and be at the forefront of driving our business strategy in the years to come.

Apprentice programmes: Have you thought about law? Are you worried about the costs of university or put off by how competitive it is to obtain a job once you graduate? Perhaps you are simply keen to get into the world of work and start building a career. If so, our apprenticeship programme might be for you.

We have two apprentice programmes: a Solicitor Apprentice Programme in London, after which you will obtain an LLB degree and become a qualified solicitor, and a Paralegal Apprentice Programme based in our Newcastle office, which upon completion you will achieve a Level 3 Apprenticeship Certificate of Higher Education.

Our apprentices will work alongside and learn from some of the brightest minds in their field, helping to solve some of our clients’ most complex legal and business problems while learning the academic and practical skills needed to excel as a lawyer. Both programmes start in September 2023, and we are looking for lawyers of the future – enterprising, digitally minded individuals with the intellectual curiosity and aptitude needed to thrive in our legal business.

Perks: Benefits include private healthcare, personal pension plan, income protection, life assurance, 25 days’ annual holiday, private GP service, interest-free season ticket loan, employee assistance programme, car scheme, mortgage advisory service.

Sponsorship: We cover the cost of GDL and LPC course fees and our maintenance grants are £7,000 for the GDL and £10,000 for the LPC.