Tag: training contract

Mayer Brown Posts 80% Spring Retention Rate

International firm Mayer Brown has released its retention figures for those trainees due to qualify in March 2020.

80% of the soon-to-be NQs are being kept on at the international firm.

Five jobs were offered, of which four were accepted by applicants. The distribution is as follows: two trainees will qualify into the Finance department, whilst the IP and Litigation teams are also snapping up a NQ each.

To see Mayer Brown’s full Lex 100 profile, click here.

Passports at the ready: Dechert international secondments

An overseas secondment is an indisputable bonus of training at an international law firm.  Following a stint abroad, trainees return armed with a newfound confidence and a network of colleagues from around the globe. We spoke with Dechert trainees about the perks of undertaking an international seat.

Dechert’s six-seat training contract ensures that all trainees can expect at least one secondment in one of the firm’s international offices. Recent secondment opportunities have included a financial services seat in Dublin or Singapore, a competition seat in Brussels or a litigation-focused client secondment in Toulouse.

Dublin trainee Rachael McKendry is currently on secondment to Dechert’s London office, whilst London trainee Catherine Adams is three months into a seat in the Dublin office.

Dechert’s global footprint was a huge factor in Rachael’s decision to apply: ‘I wanted the opportunity to work with colleagues in different offices and work on cross-border matters’. Now well into the second year of her training contract, Rachael has frequently found herself working on matters with an international element. ‘On any given day I could be working with colleagues from, say, New York, Boston, Hong Kong or London. It makes the work so varied and interesting’.

The opportunity to move abroad was also an enticement for Catherine. ‘I’m quite familiar with the whole idea of living in a different country. I had spent time abroad during my degree and again after graduating from university, and I was keen for that to continue.’ And her secondment to Dublin has not disappointed, ‘So far, Ireland has felt very homely!’

Despite the geographical proximity of the Irish capital and London, the prospect of moving to an unfamiliar city and starting a new job all at the same time can still be a daunting one. To make the transition as smooth as possible, Dechert has all bases covered. Rachael received details and pictures of her London accommodation in advance, was picked up from the airport and even had a gym membership set up for her by the firm. A few days before starting work, she was also invited to attend a training session and social event at her new workplace. ‘Meeting everyone in a social setting, from partners to trainee supervisors to the trainees themselves, was brilliant. It put me at ease and I felt a lot more confident going in on the Monday already knowing what to expect’.

The Dublin office is an integral part of Dechert’s international network. The bulk of the work undertaken is finance-focused, making a secondment to the Irish office a great option for trainees looking to qualify in this area. This was a particularly attractive proposition for Catherine, who had already completed (and enjoyed!) a financial services seat in London and was keen to build on the knowledge she had acquired. So far, she has found the work to be similar, albeit with a slightly different angle, due in part to its focus on Irish funds.

One of the attractions of a secondment in Dechert’s London office for Rachael was the range of practice areas on offer, in particular litigation, where she is currently sitting. The interplay between the different departments was also intriguing. ‘I already knew the firm was very collaborative from dealing with other offices internationally but it’s so interesting to see how the different practice areas in the London office collaborate and work with each other’. And although the London office is much larger than its Irish counterpart, Rachael certainly doesn’t feel as though she’s been given any less responsibility. ‘As a secondee I feel like I’m on the same level as all the other trainees, which is great because it gives me the sense of being able to contribute just as much’.

Similarly, in Dublin, trainees are afforded high levels of responsibility from the get-go thanks to the close-knit teams. ‘Here I’m given an overview of the matter, what my tasks will be and I’m trusted to go away and complete them’, says Catherine. The people aren’t bad either: ‘everyone’s been really friendly and welcoming even though I’m only here for a short time. It’s been easy to get to know everyone quite quickly – I’ll be sorry to leave!’

If the professional experience isn’t enough of an enticement, the opportunity to get to know a new city might be. Rachael is making the most of living in London’s vibrant Smithfield area and finds plenty of time to explore the capital at weekends. ‘I’ve had a lot of visitors dying to come over; it’s amazing how quickly Christmas rushes in when all your weekends are full’! Catherine agrees: ‘my house is like a hotel at the moment’!

So has moving abroad for four months brought with it any challenges? ‘Nothing has caught me out’, says Catherine, ‘the only thing is that I’ve always lived with someone so living on my own was a bit of an adjustment’. Rachael has found the transition equally problem-free. ‘I didn’t know too many people in London but that really hasn’t been an issue at all here. I’ve made so many friends, be they trainees or other members of the team’.

Both are agreed that trainees should jump at the chance of undertaking an international secondment if they are offered the opportunity. To sum up: ‘I’ll take away a better sense of Dechert’, says Rachael. ‘Although it’s never lost on me that it’s an international firm, having now experienced more than one office, I’ve seen that culture of collaboration at work. I’ve seen how people can transition between different offices seamlessly because it is so international’.

Dechert’s London office recruits ten trainees a year exclusively through its vacation schemes. Applications for the spring and summer vacation schemes are open now and close on 31 January 2020. Click here to apply.

BARBRI acquires SQE provider Kaplan Altior in preparation for education market overhaul

Legal education provider BARBRI International has accelerated its plans to move into the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) prep market by acquiring UK-based training and assessment provider Kaplan Altior.

The acquisition was completed 30 November, and the new business BARBRI Altior will offer training courses including the Professional Skills Course (PSC) for trainee solicitors and preparation for the controversial SQE, which is set to be launched in 2021. The buyout will see all Kaplan Altior employees join the new company, which will operate from the same centres throughout the UK.

It also follows BARBRI teaming up with The College of Legal Practice last month, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The College of Law Australia and New Zealand. BARBRI’s partnership with The College provides a challenge to the effective duopoly of solicitor training in England and Wales, which has seen BPP and University of Law dominate.

BARBRI is mostly known for providing training to prepare for US Bar examinations, which are broadly similar to the format being adopted for parts of the SQE. Acquiring competency in PSC delivery also aids BARBRI in providing SQE preparation, with much of the PSC being integrated into the exam. Kaplan, meanwhile, emerged as the winner of the race to develop the SQE in 2018.

Speaking to Legal Business in November, BARBRI managing director Sarah Hutchinson (pictured) stressed the provider was well equipped to deliver SQE prep: ‘BARBRI has been in the market for over 50 years in the US, preparing about 28,000 students every year. There are about 35,000 new attorneys every year and BARBRI has a large market share: in the US we are by far the largest and longest established company. A big proportion of the US Bar exam is also multiple choice so we have a lot of experience on how to prepare people for a multiple choice test.’

BARBRI’s ramped-up presence comes after one of the incumbent providers, BPP, was earlier this week chosen by a consortium of six leading firms to provide SQE preparation. The firms are looking to broadly mirror the current education regime by maintaining core elements of the Legal Practice Course (LPC) and having prospective solicitors sit parts one and two of the exam prior to undertaking work experience.

The SQE’s introduction replaces a long-standing system of 30 years, uprooting the LPC and the two-year training contract. Now prospective solicitors need only pass a final, centralised exam divided into two parts and hold two years of qualifying work experience available from a wider range of employers.

K&L Gates advised BARBRI on the acquisition with a team spearheaded by London partner James Cross.


This article first appeared on Legal Business

Six City firms appoint BPP to deliver ‘super-exam’ prep courses amid education shake-up

BPP has been chosen by a consortium of six leading firms to provide Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) preparation, as the City gears up for an incoming education overhaul.

The consortium is comprised of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), Hogan Lovells, Linklaters, Norton Rose Fulbright and Slaughter and May.  BPP will now design an education and skills programme to train future trainees at the firms.

‘We were sceptical [of the SQE] but the time for those discussions is in the past,’ Hogan Lovells pensions partner Edward Brown told Legal Business. ‘Now we’re taking advantage of the deregulation.’

The existing education regime requires a student to hold a law degree (or non-law degree plus a graduate diploma in law) and a one-year Legal Practice Course (LPC) followed by a two-year training contract at a law firm. The SQE will uproot this model, with prospective solicitors instead needing only to hold a degree or equivalent, pass an exam divided into two parts and have two years of qualifying work experience from a wider group of employers.

The appointment by the consortium suggests the ongoing domination of legal education by BPP and University of Law (ULaw) will persist. In total three providers were considered by the firms before BPP was chosen, with some observers surprised University of Law was not appointed. However, in a potential challenge to the existing duopoly, Australia’s leading legal training outfit launched in the UK last week through The College of Legal Practice.

The six firms are also hoping candidates will sit the first and second parts of the controversial exam before entering the workplace, despite the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s suggestion SQE 2 should be sat after work experience.

‘It’s easy to complain law firms are being conservative and not moving with the times,’ HSF partner Tim West told Legal Business. ‘But this is a root-and-branch change to the training of lawyers and ensures they are prepared from day one.’

While the courses are still being designed by BPP, West and Brown suggested technology will receive greater emphasis in the new programmes. The firms will also be taking existing components of the LPC and further tailoring them to the requirements of City law.

BPP will deliver the new suite of programmes for prospective trainees from autumn 2021. Subject to changes made by the regulator, trainees will sit the SQE in or around November 2022. The first intake of trainees affected should be joining the consortium’s firms in spring 2023.


This article first appeared on Legal Business.

Latham & Watkins’ Global Affinity Groups

From parent lawyers to female lawyers to first-generation professionals, Latham & Watkins wants its lawyers and professional staff to feel supported and included, regardless of background or personal circumstances. The firm has created eight global affinity groups for lawyers, which, essentially, do what they say on the tin: allow colleagues who share an affinity in terms of a particular life experience (or are in support of those that do) to come together, have a forum to air their voices, and share strategies for professional success. 

The Lex 100 spoke with Jonathan Ritson-Candler, associate and co-head of Latham’s London LGBTQ Lawyers Group, and Chidi Onyeche, associate and co-head of the firm’s Black Lawyers Group in London, to learn more.

Open to all trainees and lawyers, the affinity groups are overseen by the firm’s Diversity Leadership Committee (DLC), comprised of partners, counsel, and associates from around the globe. The DLC spearheads Latham’s global diversity and inclusion strategy and initiatives, working to strengthen and promote the firm as a workplace where the best and brightest lawyers from all groups, including those traditionally underrepresented in the legal industry, excel and find the opportunities and support to fulfil their potential to become firm and industry leaders. Each affinity group has both global and local leaders, primarily associates. This leadership structure ensures that members can feel comfortable speaking up about any issues they may be facing. ‘The idea is that this isn’t just another iteration of partners overseeing what you do’, explains Jonathan.

Latham encourages broad participation in its affinity groups, all of which welcome allies. ‘I joined the Black Lawyers Group pretty much straight after joining the firm, and I’ve been very involved from the time I was a trainee’, says Chidi. In fact, potential trainees are even exposed to the affinity groups during the recruitment process. ‘I completed a vacation scheme in 2014, and Latham’s dedication to diversity, and in particular to black lawyers, was something that stuck out to me; it was one of the major factors why I chose to pursue a training contract here’.

Lateral-hire Jonathan joined the LGBTQ Lawyers Group in order to get to know his new firm: ‘I thought it would be a nice way to get more exposure to the firm, meet more people and get embedded a bit quicker. And that’s definitely been the case’.

Being an affinity group member has myriad benefits, one of which is exposure to Latham colleagues and firm leaders globally. ‘You automatically start building a network, so that even in a huge firm like Latham, you have an immediate route to getting to know people, meaning you don’t feel cut off from it all’, says Jonathan. ‘Incidentally, you’ll end up working with colleagues across the global network in any event, so it’s another great way to put a face to a name’. Chidi agrees. Every two years, the Black Lawyers Group invites its members to a global firm-sponsored retreat. There are engaging and inspiring discussions from firm leaders, affinity group members and allies. For example, this past September, the Black Lawyers Group retreat was held in Chicago, where attendees were able to visit the Obama Foundation to understand some of the great work that is happening there. Not only is it a perfect chance to catch up with colleagues and friends from around the globe, and meet new ones, group members also provide strategic input on how to best achieve the group’s overall aims of recruitment, retention and promotion of black talent across the firm’s network. Through this retreat, Chidi and other members of the Black Lawyers Group have been able to get to know firm leaders, forming invaluable connections. ‘There’s a certain sense of power (far above my paygrade!) which comes from speaking to them and getting to know them and them getting to know me’.

The local leaders of the LGBTQ Lawyers Group for each office get together on a global call once a quarter. ‘If someone’s in Hong Kong and another in Los Angeles, there’s never going to be a good time to have a call, but people are pretty good at turning up. It’s really gratifying to see the global commitment to diversity play out’, enthuses Jonathan. There are also quarterly catch-up calls for the various global sub-committees within the group, networking events where members are encouraged to bring their significant others and an all-affinity group lunch once a year.

There are plenty of opportunities to get together in the London office too. The Black Lawyers Group recently hosted a series of talks to coincide with Black History Month. ‘We had one talk about social media, which looked at members’ LinkedIn profiles and online presence. The idea was to ensure that clients who were considering coming to Latham would see that our lawyers’ online profiles were well thought-out’, explains Chidi. The next talk will be a financial planning session, something which has historically been a challenge for the black community. ‘The hope is to help members understand how best to utilise the wealth that we have, so that it can be preserved and also grow. We need to make sure that we start building generational wealth’.

Furthering its commitment to supporting the diverse needs of lawyers and staff, Latham recently rolled out significant benefits enhancements in the UK that make it easier to access more inclusive medical care and plan a family. These include financial support for transgender transitions and fertility treatment such as IVF, elective egg/sperm freezing, private maternity delivery services, and for surrogacy and adoption.

There’s no doubt that the success of Latham’s affinity groups can largely be attributed to the sheer amount of effort expended by their dedicated leaders and members. Organising events and activities, many of which involve international offices, requires unwavering commitment, which is no mean feat for City lawyers who are also juggling heavy client workloads. But there is always someone on hand to take over if an urgent matter crops up.

Impressively, the firm has also attributed bonus-eligible credits to diversity initiatives. ‘Not only is my team really supportive, but the firm more broadly is supportive because there are file codes to which you can record your time which are counted as part of your bonus calculation, as long as certain conditions are met’, elaborates Jonathan.

Stand-out moments

Black Lawyers Group 

The Black Lawyers Group’s global retreats have definitely been highlights for Chidi. ‘The first global retreat was in Washington, D.C.; I was a trainee at the time and was on secondment in Singapore. The firm paid for my flights from Singapore to London and then onto Washington, D.C. It was fantastic. Sometimes you can get really siloed within your department and within the firm, and then you realise that there’s actually something much bigger at work. In D.C. and, more recently at our retreat in Chicago, it was great to see so many amazing black lawyers and allies who support the whole mission in one place talking about how we can do better, be better and encourage diversity and inclusion in general.’

LGBTQ Lawyers Group 

For Jonathan, arranging a LGBTQ Lawyers Group event to coincide with London Pride really stands out. ‘We rented an event space on Piccadilly in London, which had a balcony and a view of the parade. It was a client event, and both clients and Latham employees could bring their children and partners. This was the second year we had hosted this event, and there were about 200 clients and 100 Latham employees – it was the most well-attended client event the firm in London had ever hosted. It’s definitely taken on a life of its own, with people asking us if we will be hosting it next year too. We hope to. In fact, we’re even talking about how to make it even better!’


Skadden Open Evening – 3 December 2019

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom will be hosting an open evening on Tuesday 3 December 2019. It will be a great opportunity for aspiring lawyers to gain valuable insights about the firm and network with trainees and solicitors from Skadden.

The event is aimed at law students in their penultimate or in their final year, and non-law students in their final year.

If you would like to attend, please submit your application before Friday 22 November 2019.

Burges Salmon Edinburgh Presentation Evening

Burges Salmon is holding a presentation evening on the evening of 28 November at the Edinburgh office for university level students interested in finding out about a career in law.

The evening will consist of presentations about the firm, the recruitment process and life as a trainee. There will be the opportunity to network with the firm’s lawyers, trainee solicitors and graduate recruitment team.

Travel expenses can be reimbursed for attendees travelling from outside Edinburgh.

Click here to sign up.