Bird & Bird LLP

Bird & Bird LLP

Address: 12 New Fetter Lane, London, EC4A 1JP




Survey results


The lowdown (in their own words...)

Why did you choose this firm over any others? 
 '‘Sports and media law practice’; ‘strength in intellectual property law’; ‘I had already worked in one of their offices and liked the culture’; ‘the people are personable and easy to get along with’; ‘its focus on technology’; ‘good work/life balance’; ‘I was attracted to the firm’s culture’; ‘on my vacation scheme I saw that people left at a sane hour on a regular basis’
Best thing about the firm? 
 '‘How willing senior lawyers are to listen to questions and provide guidance’; ‘the lawyers are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their work’; ‘the level of responsibility and work afforded to trainees’; ‘excellent free coffee’; ‘impressive canteen’; ‘approachable colleagues’; ‘high-quality work’; ‘emphasis on technology’; ‘fascinating clients’
Worst thing about the firm? 
 '‘Everyone is extremely busy’; ‘the amount of work and corresponding hours of work is increasing but without the commensurate increase in salary and perks’; ‘work/life balance is not what it was a few years ago’; ‘open office format can be distracting’; ‘the pod system’; ‘pay is falling below the average for a firm of this size’
Best moment? 
 '‘Running a case for six months without an associate and reporting directly to a partner’; ‘going on secondment’; ‘sitting in on a two-week arbitration’; ‘attending court during my dispute resolution seat’; ‘taking attendance notes during a very animated board meeting with a client’; ‘having almost complete responsibility for producing all the documents on a couple of venture capital deals’; ‘the annual football tournament’
Worst moment?
 '‘When tasks land on your desk after 7pm’; ‘having to cancel longstanding plans’; ‘having to carry out mundane tasks such as bundling’; ‘taking on too much work by being too eager and not being able to deliver certain work to an associate who then took issue with my misjudgement of capacity’; ‘getting told off for making a mess of a draft when the instructions given to me weren’t clear or complete’'

If the firm were a fictional character it would be...

R2-D2 – techy, loveable and really good at what it does

The verdict

The firm

Bird & Bird has offices located across Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. The firm is a leader across a broad range of TMT sectors, including IP, IT, data protection and brand management, and operates in key industry sectors such as aviation, energy, financial services, media and life sciences.  

The star performers

Asset finance and leasing; Aviation; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Data protection privacy and cybersecurity; Employment: employers and senior executives; Fintech; Franchising; Fraud: civil; Immigration: business; Intellectual property; IT and telecoms; M&A: lower mid-market deals, £50m-£250m; Media and entertainment (including media finance); PATMA: trade mark attorneys; Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology; Power (including electricity and renewables); Property finance; Sport; Venture capital

The deals

Defended Actavis on its patent litigation with Eli Lilly regarding alleged infringement of the latter’s anti-cancer drug pemetrexed disodium; advised Office Depot on the tax aspects of the €2bn sale of its European business to Aurelius; represented Nokia in several disputes including global patent and antitrust litigation against Apple and ICC arbitration proceedings with LG Electronics concerning FRAND royalty rates for Nokia’s cellular SEP portfolio; defending Tune-In in a digital copyright dispute with Sony Music and Warner Music regarding claims that aspects of its service infringe the copyright of various record companies represented by IFPI

The clients

Actavis; Arsenal FC; Bank of England; Commonwealth Games Federation; International Cricket Council; Marvel; Monster Beverage Company; Qatar Airways; SkyBet; Westminster Group

The verdict

‘Good responsibility and interesting work’ are just some of benefits to training at Bird & Bird. New recruits appreciate that – in comparison to their peers – they receive a ‘high level of client contact’ and work ‘good hours’, only ‘occasionally’ having to stay late. Bird & Bird’s ‘sport and media law practice’ and ‘focus on technology’ lured in aspiring solicitors, as did the firm’s expertise in intellectual property. Many trainees completed vacation schemes prior to joining the firm, where they discovered that Bird & Bird’s ‘people were friendly and interesting’. Senior lawyers are reported to be ‘willing to listen to questions and provide guidance’. The firm is a Lex 100 Winner for its vacation scheme and approachability. Recruits were pleased with the firm’s ‘new digs’ which feature an ‘impressive canteen’; however, complaints about the changing office culture also surfaced: ‘certain new partners from other firms appear to be affecting the ethos and work/life balance in a number of departments’ one claims. Also of concern was the salary which is ‘falling below the average for a firm of this size’. ‘Mundane’ tasks such as ‘bundling’, ‘having to cancel longstanding plans’ and ‘making a mess of a draft’ made for some unpleasant memories, but trainees relished the occasions they got to ‘draft a broadcasting agreement from scratch’, attend ‘mediations between a FTSE 100 company and a government department’ and partake in the ‘annual football tournament’. Client secondments also went down well, with recruits saying they provide ‘great insight into the client’s needs’, but ‘the lack of real international opportunities has been a disappointment’ for some. If you love the idea of working in ‘fascinating sectors’, Bird & Bird is definitely worth your consideration.

 Why Bird & Bird LLP?

Adeena Wells trainee, Bird & Bird LLP 

Departments to date:  dispute resolution, employment

University:Leicester University 
Degree:Law with French law and language 

My first experience of Bird & Bird was at an open day at university and I was instantly impressed at how the values and principles expressed on the firm’s website were embodied by those I met. I felt an immediate connection with the firm and knew that it was the place that would help me become a successful commercial lawyer.

I completed a summer vacation scheme in the commercial department where I was given a lot of responsibility to work on various international projects with high-profile clients in nearly all of our sectors. The vacation scheme is incredibly valuable in ensuring that not only you are the right fit for the firm, but that the firm is the right fit for you.

I spent the first seat of my training contract in the dispute resolution team where I experienced arbitration, mediation and litigation first-hand. My second seat was in the employment team, where I drafted contracts, liaised with our international offices on global HR projects and wrote articles for our monthly employment newsletter called ‘Frontline’. I also worked with our marketing team to create an app called ‘Employment Law Zone’, a digital encyclopedia of employment and HR law topics. I then moved to the brand management team within the IP department where I drafted applications for design registrations, dealt with trade mark oppositions at the UK and EU Intellectual Property Offices, and created bundles for patent litigations.

In each of my three seats I was exposed to various sectors groups, including banking and financial services, sports, retail and consumer and energy, which has really demonstrated how the firm is able to work seamlessly in key sectors across all departments, something which definitely sets Bird & Bird apart from its competitors. I am currently on secondment with one of our retail and consumer clients, Philip Morris International. The matters that I work on are most closely related to the commercial, employment, and corporate departments, but it changes on a day to day basis. Philip Morris International is one of the world’s leading tobacco companies, but they are also developing innovative less harmful alternatives to cigarettes as part of their commitment to creating a smoke-free future. This presents a lot of interesting challenges and exciting opportunities, making my role in the legal team incredibly diverse and wide-ranging.

As well as a fast-paced and exciting legal career at Bird & Bird, I have also got involved with the firm’s social and volunteering activities; as part of the women’s football team and through volunteering in schools and legal advice centres, I’ve been able to develop a completely different skill-set and pursue my personal interests. I am also the co-chair of our BAME network, Embrace, which was founded by a fellow trainee in 2017, and together we have been given the freedom to pursue a cause that we are passionate about with the firm’s support and guidance. From working with clients with big household names, to attending training seminars to develop business acumen and soft skills, the firm provides you with the perfect toolkit to see you through your training contract, which is all a budding commercial lawyer could ask for.

Vacation Scheme Insider

Jason White

Jason White, future trainee, Bird & Bird LLP

University: University of York Degree: Electronic Engineering with Business Management

About me

At the time of applying to Bird & Bird, I was in my final year at the University of York, studying Electronic Engineering with Business Management. I became interested in a legal career after completing a module, which brought to my attention the issues around technological innovation and intellectual property, and also artificial intelligence/machine learning within the legal industry. After I completed a few patent, contract, and copyright exercises, I realised that a technical background would be advantageous in the legal industry, as it would complement the analytical and problem-solving aspects of law, through finding solutions based on a set of rules. This, along with the intellectually challenging nature of the profession led me to pursue a career in law.

Why Bird & Bird?

I wanted to apply for firms which were innovative, embraced technology, and had strong Intellectual Property practices. I wanted to be someone who could fully utilise my technical background, hopefully provide valuable ideas which would be considered, and contribute to the overall development of the firm, and not be restricted as ‘just a lawyer’. Also, as a non-lawyer, I had a couple of negative preconceptions about law firm atmospheres, so I made sure to search for firms that I believed were friendly.

Naturally, I was drawn to Bird & Bird as it was consistently recognised as a leader across many fields, including Intellectual Property and Technology. I was also very interested in Bird & Bird’s sector focus, which allows their lawyers to specialise in specific commercial areas, and become experts in those fields. By training at Bird & Bird, I knew that I would get the chance to learn from the best lawyers within these sectors, and improve my overall development as a lawyer. Their sector focus also allows Bird & Bird to attract a high-quality client base within those fields. When looking through overall reviews of the firm, Bird & Bird consistently came up as a friendly firm, where all staff were approachable, and they had an open-door policy. Furthermore, as an avid gamer, I was also impressed when I heard the firm had eSports teams within their client base! Basically, I chose to pursue a career at Bird & Bird due to the combination of its award-winning reputation, stellar intellectual property and technology practices, excellent training potential, international reach, quality client base, and personable nature.

Vacation Scheme


My vacation scheme lasted two weeks, where I sat with an associate in the Intellectual Property department. We were also assigned ‘Trainee Buddies’, who were trainees within the department who could help with any questions, take you to events, and help you find your feet within the firm. One thing that noticed about the open-door policy, was that there were almost literally no doors within the departments! This made approaching other members of staff at all levels, much more natural, and less intimidating.

During the vacation scheme, we were encouraged to attend various social events throughout the two weeks, many of which included free food and drinks! On the first day, the vacation scheme intake was split into two teams, where we then took part in a scavenger hunt within walking distance of the firm, which ended with food and drinks. It included tasks like gathering in a phone box, and doing face swaps. Normally, I tend to see icebreaker events as an unwanted formality, however, this was actually really fun and added light competition and laughter within the intake.

We later had a meal with the trainee buddies, which was followed with bowling. The meal was a great way to informally speak with the trainees to gain hints and tips, and learn more about the training contract at Bird & Bird.

Later in the first week, we were invited to the summer party in Shoreditch, which again was a great way to meet people within the firm, and see trainees, associates and partners in an informal setting. We were encouraged to have fun by members of all levels, and it was during this party that I was introduced to the associate who gave me my largest project during the vacation scheme.

I was very fortunate that my vacation scheme happened to coincide with the Intellectual Property party, which takes place at the Global Head of Intellectual Property’s house, which again, was a great way to meet new people and enjoy ourselves in another informal setting. (However, I know that the remainder of the intake took part in networking drinks at the firm, which I heard was great.)


The vacation scheme isn’t all about friendliness though, it is also about gaining an insight into law, and life at the firm. Although my supervisor made sure that I had plenty of work to complete throughout the two weeks, there were also plenty of emails going around the department asking if any summer schemers wanted to assist on other pieces of work. My supervisor also introduced me to many other members within the department, who I later approached to get involved with many projects. My particular work included proofreading, helping with drafts, searching for potential termination clauses within contracts, categorising trademarks, and learning about patent cases. I also got the chance to write a consolidated report on a variety of patent searching tools which would later be used by associates within the firm. There was plenty of opportunity to get involved with work, and learn from the lawyers in the department to get an ‘in the flesh’ insight into law. Along with the actual work, we had the opportunity to attend the Court of Appeal, all of which improved my commercial awareness, and overall knowledge around technology. There was never a moment during the vacation scheme where I didn’t have any work.

I would strongly suggest applying for vacation scheme, as not only is it the place where the firm recruits the majority of their trainees, but it is a fantastic way to learn more about Bird & Bird and law as a whole, and it gives them a larger opportunity to learn about you. Following the vacation scheme, I knew for certain that I would be very happy as a trainee at Bird & Bird.

About the firm

Address:12 New Fetter Lane, London, EC4A 1JP

Telephone: 020 7415 6000

Facebook:Bird & Bird Graduates UK


CEO:  David Kerr

Other offices: Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam, Beijing, Bratislava, Brussels, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dubai, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, The Hague, Hamburg, Helsinki, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Lyon, Madrid, Milan, Munich, Paris, Prague, Rome, Shanghai, Singapore, Stockholm, Sydney, Warsaw. 

Who we are: Bird & Bird is an international law firm, with a rare and invaluable grasp of strategic commercial issues.

What we do: We work across the following practice areas: commercial, competition and EU law, corporate, dispute resolution, finance, IP, international HR services, outsourcing, privacy and data protection, real estate, regulatory and administrative, restructuring and insolvency and tax.

What we are looking for: The core skills we are looking for are the ability to work under pressure, high attention to detail, creative, commercially aware, strong communication skills, innovative, motivated problem solver who can work as part of a team.

What you'll do:Two years of in-house training across four seats. We also run a business skills development programme to provide trainees with the basic building blocks for future development within the business of law.

Perks: Private healthcare, life assurance, pension scheme – 5% company contribution, computer loan, season ticket loan, cycle to work, gym membership, employee assistance programme, corporate discount.

Sponsorship:GDL/LPC fees; paid maintenance grants of £5,500 per year of study.


Facts and figures

Total partners: 93

Other fee-earners: 193

Total trainees: 35

Applications received pa: 2,800 

Turnover in 2017: £303.2m (+11% from 2016). Profits per equity partner: £503,000 (+11%)


First year: £38,000

Second year: £40,000

Newly qualified: £62,000

 Application process

Apply to:The graduate recruitment team


When to apply:By 27 December 2018 for 2021 contracts

What's involved:Online application form, critical reasoning test, video interview, assessment centre.

 Vacation schemes

Spring:Apply by 28 December 2018.

Summer:Apply by 28 December 2018.

Embracing the Spotlight

Bird & Bird Bursary Scheme