Open thread: What is it like to work at a US firm in London?

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By Legal Cheek on

Are the megabucks worth the crazy hours? Or have these firms fallen foul to unfounded stereotypes?


For money-chasing Suits types, landing a job at a US firm used to be akin to finding one of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets.

But with the Yankees upping their London training contract numbers of late, this is becoming an increasingly mainstream route. The likes of Shearman & Sterling, Latham & Watkins and Weil Gotshal are now major players in the UK graduate recruitment scene. And White & Case — which offers a whopping 50 training contracts a year on the back of rapid recent growth — outdoes many large UK firms these days. All pay considerably more than British rivals.

The most generous remunerators are the MoneyLaw crowd, which pay $180,000 to newly qualified lawyers across all their offices globally. Thanks to the weak Brexit pound, that means London rookie solicitors at firms including Kirkland & Ellis and Akin Gump are earning over £140,000. That’s over £50,000 more than the nearest magic circle rival.

For that level of pay, it’s unsurprising these firms expect you to work hard. The hours are notoriously long — a scan of our survey of over 1,500 trainees and junior lawyers confirms this — and the work particularly challenging.

But just how much tougher is life at a US firm in London than an elite UK-headquartered player? Is there a danger that the reality has become detached from the stereotypes? Head below the line and share your experiences of working at a US firm with us.


Open thread: What is it like to work in the magic circle? [Legal Cheek]