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?  ‘For the opportunity to work on large international deals, combined with a reputation for having a good culture and work/life balance’, ‘I chose NRF for its highly-ranked antitrust, competition and regulatory practice’, ‘it’s known for having a kind workplace culture; that felt important if the work was going to be quite intense’, ‘because of its renewable energy thought leadership’, ‘the scope and quality of work of the firm, combined with friendliness of the people I met during the graduate recruitment process’, ‘diversity’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Good training; nice people; good work/life balance’, ‘inclusive culture – all members of the team are approachable regardless of seniority’, ‘the office is great; the exposure to high-level work and matters is great too’, ‘the people seem nice and the office has a great location with amazing views’, ‘its internationality – every matter I have worked on has, to some extent, had an international aspect’, ‘the people are really nice and approachable’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Some people are reluctant to move forward and embrace the diversity/remote working’, ‘the TC-offer-to-joining period was quite lax in terms of contact from the firm’, ‘we need a salary increase’, ‘our offices and tech could use an update – though there have been developments on the latter in the past year, there is room for improvement’, ‘there is a lack of clear communication internally’, ‘the hours at times’

Best moment? ‘Receiving calls from clients and being able to answer their questions confidently’, ‘meeting my team’, ‘closing deals’, ‘getting to sit in on some very high-level, sensitive matters with my supervisor on day one’, ‘working on a tough deal, being invited to the completion dinner and having the client personally thank me in their speech’, ‘when my supervising partner offered to make me a cup of tea’, ‘travelling to Genoa to assist the shipping finance team with a cruise delivery’

Worst moment? ‘The lack of break between the LPC and starting the training contract’, ‘consistent late nights’, ‘the professional skills course’, ‘boring work’, ‘working 14 hours on a Sunday’, ‘feeling overwhelmed during a particularly busy month with consistent late finishes’, ‘being in a situation where the hours were very long and the lists of tasks never-ending, and having difficulties in reducing the workload’, ‘periods of long hours’

The Legal 500 Future Lawyers verdict on Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright is a ‘very international firm – lots of firms claim to be international, but we have 58 overseas offices, so the work here tends to be global and high profile’, said respondents. A remarkable overseas secondment offering has earned the firm a Future Lawyers Winner medal in this category. Trainees receive ‘good exposure across key sectors’, such as ‘energy and project finance’ and work with ‘clients of an excellent calibre’. In terms of environment, the firm is ‘known for having a kind workplace culture’, with some respondents calling NRF the ‘friendliest law firm in the City’. Training, in some teams at least, is ‘structured, which helps ease trainees into the work’. What’s more, ‘all supervisors are partners (unlike at most firms of a similar size), which allows trainees to feel truly integrated into their teams’ and ‘naturally facilitates a better learning environment’. Beyond the impressive work opportunities, NRF also has a ‘great location’ and ‘spectacular views over Tower Bridge and The Shard’. On the flip side, ‘working hour expectations are intense, despite being on the better side for a City law firm’ and some recruits feel that ‘internal communication could be improved’. Trainees did not enjoy ‘the transition from seat-to-seat, which can be ‘quite jarring, especially when the team being joined is busy. This is to some extent part of the job, but it can feel quite discouraging’, ‘feelings of burn out’, nor ‘working with a supervisor who was difficult to talk to’. But ‘attending the Project Finance International Awards with a client’, ‘experiencing the negotiation of a power purchase agreement from the instruction to the signing’, and ‘being told the team would love to have me back at the end of my seats – it made me feel like my hard work had paid off’ more than made up for the low points. For a firm with a ‘truly global network’, a ‘distinct sector focus’, and colleagues who are ‘friendly, welcoming and open’, take a closer look at 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

Chair of Europe, Middle East and Asia: Farmida Bi

UK offices: London, Newcastle

Overseas offices: Amsterdam, Athens, Austin, Bangkok, Beijing, Brisbane, Brussels, Bujumbura**, Calgary, Canberra, Cape Town, Casablanca, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Dubai, Durban, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Harare**, Hong Kong SAR, Houston, Istanbul, Jakarta*, Johannesburg, Kampala**, London, Los Angeles, Luxembourg, Melbourne, Mexico City, Milan, Minneapolis, Montréal, Munich, Nairobi**, New York, Newcastle, Ottawa, Paris, Perth, Piraeus, Québec, Riyadh*, San Antonio, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore, St Louis, Sydney, São Paulo, 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 you’ll do: 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.

What we’re looking for: 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 concerns and generate ideas to ensure your training contract is a rewarding experience.

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, where 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. 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.