The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
City heavyweight Ashurst operates in all the principal areas of commercial law, including private equity and investment funds, and counts blue-chip companies and international banks among its clients. Ashurst is set to relocate from its Appold Street office to Spitalfields in 2019.
The star performers
Acquisition finance; Bank lending: investment grade debt and syndicated loans; Banking litigation: investment and retail; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Commercial property: Corporate occupiers; Derivatives and structured products; Employee share schemes; Financial services (non-contentious/ regulatory); Fintech; Insurance: corporate and regulatory; International arbitration; Pensions (non-contentious); Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology; Private equity: transactions – high-value deals; Property finance; Property litigation; Rail; Regulatory investigations and corporate crime; VAT and indirect tax
Advised Hikma Pharmaceuticals on its global trade mark portfolio; led the advice to TfL with regards to the Silvertown Tunnel PPP project; advised BP Oil UK on the regulatory aspects of BPme, the company’s new mobile app for paying for fuel at petrol station forecourts; advised WorldPay Group on its strategic partnership with Visa; acts for Westfield on all of its major London developments, including the phase two extension of Westfield London
AVEVA Group plc; Berendsen; DXC Technologies; EnQuest; Lendlease; National Express Group; Nomura; Punter Southall Group; Qatari Diar; RBS
Ashurst’s appeal comes from its ‘unique culture’ which is ‘collegiate’ and ‘supportive’; it is ‘more relaxed than Magic Circle firms but has a similar quality of work’. Recruits also chose to train at Ashurst due to its ‘expertise in the energy and infrastructure sector’ and ‘commitment to corporate and finance practices’. The firm’s ‘excellent market reputation’ and ‘international outreach’ didn’t go unnoticed either. Trainees receive ‘more client contact and responsibility as juniors’, along with ‘more consistent’ working hours (though this seems department-dependent as some trainees complained of ‘long hours’ and ‘weekend work’). Frequently praised was the ‘approachability of senior people’ and ‘support staff’ who ‘take time to answer questions and explain the wider context of a task’ making it no big deal to ‘admit you don’t know how to do something’. A special shout-out also goes to managing partner Simon Beddow who newbies thought was ‘great’. However, a handful of respondents were unimpressed when they were ‘shouted at’ and ‘rudely addressed’ by ‘an associate’ and ‘partner’. ‘IT systems’ and the ‘current office’ were also things trainees felt need significant upgrading; however, an office move to Spitalfields is imminent. Trainee stand-out moments included ‘attending arbitration hearings’, ‘travelling abroad for a signing’, ‘being responsible for my own matter’ and ‘receiving positive feedback from a partner’. CSR and pro bono offerings are ‘excellent’ – ‘first and second seaters have to do the law clinic in Tower Hamlets’ which provides an ‘opportunity to do something different and interact with new people’. Ashurst’s ‘quality of training’ and ‘gentler culture than you would find in most top firms’ make it an outstanding choice.
A day in the life of...
Ben Suthers second-seat trainee, Ashurst LLP
Departments to date: Corporate transactions, global markets
9.00am: I usually arrive at work between 8.45am and 9am, as I like to be able to plan my day before the work day properly begins. This process involves checking any emails that have come in, and writing my to-do list of tasks for the day ahead.
9.45am: We have a conference call scheduled with the financial advisor on a transaction that we are working on, which myself and the partner on the deal dial in to. My role on the transaction is to manage the CP process, so I am able to update everyone as to the status of this, as well as taking notes on any other matters that come up. Once the call is over, I draft an email outlining what was discussed and agreed on the call, and circulate it to the wider team.
10.45am: I get a call from an associate in my team asking if I can assist on preparing for a signing later in the afternoon. This involves organising all the documents to be signed, tabbing up the relevant signature pages, and ensuring the signing process runs smoothly.
1.00pm: In a bid to enjoy the sunshine, I head over to Spitafields market with a few other trainees to get some lunch.
2.00pm: After lunch, we get a call from a client with a query relating to the security they granted in a previous transaction. The partner on the deal asks me to assist with this task. This involves reviewing the documentation from the original transaction, identifying the key areas that the client will be concerned with, and writing this up in a way that the client will easily understand. The ability to discuss legal concepts with non-lawyer clients is a key skill that trainee solicitors are encouraged to develop. I talk through my findings with an associate, who provides a few comments, and then we send this out to the client.
3.30pm: Once completed, I head over to a meeting to discuss a pro bono initiative that I am assisting on. Pro bono is something the firm encourages everyone to take part in, and the opportunities are wide-ranging. After the meeting is finished, I head back to my desk to start some preliminary research based on the instructions we received at the meeting.
4.30pm: I get a call from an associate asking for me to prepare the various forms for a listing we are doing with the UKLA. A typical task for a trainee in the global markets team is to liaise with various public bodies on behalf of clients. I draft up the forms, and send over to the associate for a quick review. Once we are both happy, we send the forms out to the client (together with signing instructions) to be signed.
6.15pm: We receive some comments on a facilities agreement from the lawyers from the other side. I am tasked with reviewing the document and checking that the points we raised and discussed over the course of the last week have been adequately included in the latest draft. Once I have completed my review, I sit down with the partner on the deal to run through a few issues to see if we are willing to accept the drafting. I have always found that partners at the firm are very approachable, and actively take an interest in helping you understand concepts you have not seen before.
7.15pm: I check in with the associates on the transactions that I am working on to see if there is anything further I can assist on, and sort out my time recording for the day. Once this is done, I head out to Broadgate Circle with a few of the other trainees for drinks.
About the firm
Address:Broadwalk House, 5 Appold Street, London, EC2A 2AG
Telephone: 020 7638 1111
Fax:020 7638 1112
Chairman: Ben Tidswell
Managing partner: Paul Jenkins
Other offices: Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Brisbane, Brussels, Canberra, Dubai, Frankfurt, Glasgow (support office), Hong Kong, Jakarta (associated office), Jeddah (associated office), London, Luxemburg, Madrid, Melbourne, Milan, Munich, New York, Paris, Perth, Port Moresby, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Washington DC
Who we are: With 26 offices in 16 countries and a number of referral relationships we offer the reach and insight of a global network, combined with the knowledge and understanding of local markets.
What we do: Our clients are at the heart of our thinking; our ambition is to be our clients’ most incisive partner. We have a prestigious client base, with whom we build strong partnerships working together on multi-jurisdictional transactions to deliver commercial solutions.
What we are looking for: We expect a lot of ourselves – and so, you will need to be comfortable with challenges and pressure. You should also be able to express yourself confidently on paper and out loud. You’ll need to become a shrewd negotiator, have an ability to read both balance sheets and behaviours, and become a commercial strategist.
What you'll do:We will plan closely with you four seats of six months each. At least one seat will be in a finance practice and another within a transactional department. You will also have the opportunity to apply for an overseas or client secondment.
Perks: Private medical insurance, life assurance, income protection, pension (including contribution from Ashurst), season ticket loan (interest free), dental insurance, ISA savings account, technology purchase plan, holiday purchase, travel insurance, reduced-rate gym membership, childcare vouchers, cycle to work scheme, give as you earn, onsite services including doctor, dentist, physiotherapist and masseuse, 25 days’ holiday (plus bank holidays), staff restaurant.
Sponsorship:For the GDL and LPC, we offer scholarships that cover course fees and provide £8,000 per year towards the cost of maintenance (£7,000 if you study the GDL outside London).
Facts and figures
Trainee places available for 2021: 40
Total partners: 410
Total trainees: 90
First year: £44,000
Second year: £48,000
Newly qualified: £105,000 (including bonuses)
Apply to:Nick Wong, graduate recruitment partner.
What's involved:Written case study on the interview day; competency based interview with a member of the graduate recruitment team; scenario based interview with two partners from our trainee interviewing committee (takes place on all training contract interview days, or after the vacation scheme for those who go on to interview for a training contract).
When to apply:
Training contract September 2021/March 2022 (first application window): Between 1 September 2018- 6 January 2019 (recruited on a rolling basis)
Training contract September 2021/March 2022 (second application window): Between 1 May 2019- 31 July 2019 (recruited on a rolling basis)
Winter vacation scheme: Between 1 September 2018- 4 November 2018 - (Closed for applications)
Spring vacation scheme: Between 1 September 2018 - 6 January 2019
Summer vacation scheme: Between 1 September 2018 - 6 January 2019