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White & Case posts 75% trainee solicitor retention score

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Need for English-qualified lawyers continues despite ‘ongoing economic and political uncertainties’, says US law firm

The London office of US outfit White & Case has confirmed it’s retaining 12 of its 16 trainees due to qualify this month, handing it a solid spring score of 75%.

The firm, which recruits around 50 rookies each year, said it’s newly qualified (NQ) lawyers will qualify into practice areas including commercial litigation, international arbitration, mergers & acquisitions, project development and finance and white-collar crime. One fresh-faced associate will be joining the firm’s Hong Kong office.

“The business need for English law qualified lawyers in London and throughout our offices worldwide continues, despite ongoing economic and political uncertainties,” said White & Case partner Justin Benson, who heads the trainee solicitor programme in London. “Our newly qualified lawyers join practices which advise leading global clients on their most important, complex, cross-border matters.”

In the previous four retention rounds, the 43-office-firm has posted results of 84% (21 out of 25), 81% (13 out of 16), 83% (15 out of 18) and 88% (15 out of 17).

The 2019 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

In terms of salaries, the New York-headquartered outfit’s latest recruits will start on £105,000, while Legal Cheek‘s Firms Most List shows trainees currently receive £46,000 in year one, rising to £50,000 in year two.

Melissa Butler, office executive partner in London, added: “White & Case supports the development of its lawyers throughout their careers and we have a proven track record of promoting our best lawyers to partner. Our London training programme has launched hundreds of successful legal careers, and its combination of consistently high retention rates and a highly competitive salary and benefits package ensures that White & Case is a leading destination for talented, ambitious trainee lawyers.”

As for life as a lawyer at White & Case, it scored A*s for peer support and perks in our Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey, as well as As for training, quality of work, partner approachability, canteen and social life. The firm, however, could only muster a B grade for its office.

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66 Comments

Anonymous

I didn’t bother applying to this firm.

(6)(11)

Everyone at White and Case

Good.

(56)(2)

Anonymous

Sorry, you mean 150k right? If so, massively agree.

(1)(3)

Anonymike

Can anyone share their opinions about this firm? To an outsider, it looks like a very stable (perhaps one of the most stable) US law firm in London – also, effectively full-service.

Pay seems also pretty good (above MC but less than elite, and smaller, US counterparts).

What are the hours like? I believe the firm would be very structured given the size of its presence in London.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Its an utter sweatshop

(38)(2)

Anonymous

It really isn’t. I would be surprised if more than 25% of associates hit over 2,000 hours in London.

(4)(10)

Anonymous

^Does not work at W&C

(13)(1)

Anonymous

I do. Office is normally almost empty past 8pm. Though honestly depends on department and time of the year. Private equity is notoriously busier than some other teams, finance teams are slammed in December closing deals, disputes are working long hours during large filings etc.

Anonymous

LOL ‘disputes are working long hours during large filings’ yeah mate some real hefty filings, true say.

Do the undergraduates on here posing as lawyers think we are all bloody stupid?

Anonymous

Office empty at 8pm pfffffttt

that’s not even the case at many mid tier UK shops.

Why are you trying (badly) to convince people W&C is giving the money away for free? It is a known sweatshop.

Anonymous

I am sorry the truth about W&C hours hurt you.

Maybe time for you to move away from your mid-tier UK sweatshop?

Anonymous

Have been at W&C for almost five years…

Anonymous

This.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

That.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

The other.

Anonymous

Stop shit stirring. There could be any number of reasons why a trainee doesn’t stay on. You have no business talking about an individual’s circumstances on a public forum, anyway.

(26)(6)

Anonymous

How does it compare to Latham and Shearman?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Latham>>>white and case> Shearman

Shearman has long been the sick man of New York, has been slowing down in London too lately

(12)(13)

Anonymous

what is it with everyone’s hard on for Latham on here

(11)(2)

Anonymous

+1 noticed the same. LC commenters seem to think Latham is massively prestigious, not sure why. I’ve known quite a few people turn latham down for MC and other US firms. Quite a well paid shop but otherwise not an especially big deal.

(6)(6)

Anonymous

idk about other equally well paid US firms, but you’re a class A moron if you turn down latham for an MC firm.

Anonymous

Why do you think this?

Anonymous

^He/she obviously thinks this because Latham pays qualified lawyers more.

But he/she is missing the point that Latham pays trainees the same or less than MC firms. So there is really no financial incentive to spend the first two years of your career at Latham, as opposed to MC.

Therefore, there will always be people who prefer/get advised to train at MC (for a variety of reasons) and back themselves to move firm later if they need/want to. MC trainees tend to be confident, high-achieving people with belief in their abilities.

Anonymous

If you want to be an nq at Latham, the best way to do it is to train there.

Anonymous

Lol as if the people latham take on training contracts would be retards?

Anonymous

Anon @ 4:09 –

what you have to understand is that the type of person who gets an offer from both Latham and an MC firm isn’t worried in the slightest that they can’t move firm whenever they like.

Therefore, they pick where they want to be NOW, not where they may want to be later (and many of them end up not wanting to leave MC because they think – perhaps deludedly – they can make it to the top there).

Anonymous

People have a ‘hard on’ on Latham because it is one of the big legal success stories; aside from kirkland, it is kinda hard to name another firm that has had a more upward trajectory than latham the past few years.

A number of US firms (Dechert, or even Akin Gump if you are feeling uncharitable) are unremarkable firms which pay their small number of lawyers large amounts, but Latham is genuinely a big name. On all classic legal measures of prestige (ie salary, PEP), it vastly outstrips the MC + most other US firms, which is why LC readers view it the way it is viewed.

(9)(2)

Anonymous

that’s all well and good, provided you accept that LC readers (ie. students) view it differently than the City of London, where Latham is a very well-respected name for some of the reasons you mention, but not one which ‘vastly outstrips’ MC and US competitors in prestige. You are massively overestimating Latham’s standing if you think that’s the orthodox view either amongst either clients or actual lawyers.

Very good firm but not special. In the real world, no one would blink twice if you told them you could have worked at Latham but chose to go elsewhere. On LC it provokes accusations of insanity.

Anonymous

Salary is not a ‘classic legal measure of prestige’. PEP is, however, Latham is not even in the top 10 US firms by PEP. So your claim that this accounts for your view of them as vastly superior doesn’t wash.

A couple of months from now, once Latham has turned you down for a vac scheme, you will be able to start to get over them.

Anonymous

I find it pretty ridiculous for you to say that salary is not a classic legal measure of prestige. Even in the US market, where salaries are more standardized across firms, firms that set the standard (Cravath) or go above beyond (Wachtell) are given special recognition by the market. Moreover, firms that fail to match the going rate are seen as second rate firms. I’m not saying nor ever claimed that salary is the ‘be all end all’ metric of prestige, but to say it is not such a metric at all is pretty stupid.

Regarding PEP, Latham is indeed outside the US top 10. However, that observation isn’t that relevant to the firm’s perception by LC readers or the UK market in general. Many of the firms in the US top 10 don’t even have offices in london (Wachtell, Paul Weiss), don’t offer training contracts (Quinn, Cravath, Simpson Thatcher) and/or have small london operations (Sullivan, Davis Polk). Amongst US firms with substantial presences in london, Latham is a leader in PEP. This is not to even mention the PEP trajectory of Latham, which has been increasing rapidly.

Take your DLA tier dumbassery elsewhere – the high street suits you better.

Anonymous

Paul Weiss has a London office.

Anonymous

Haha, the latham fanboy club just can’t accept the truth! Have you stopped to ask yourself why you are so invested in a firm you don’t even work for?

Salary is not a ‘classic legal measure’ of prestige. If that truly followed, MC firms would be about half as prestigious as the likes of Akin Gump and other ‘unremarkable’ firms, to use your own words. There are many high-paying firms which lack prestige, and particularly in the London market, there is no meaningful correlation between salary and prestige among either US or UK origin law firms. Skadden is far, far more prestigious than Vinson & Elkins for example, despite paying less. Slaughter and May is far, far more prestigious than Ashurst, despite paying less. White & Case and Shearman are more prestigious than the likes of Fried Frank, Pillsbury, Proskauer, Morgan Lewis etc etc. despite paying less. The fact that Latham pays £130k(ish) to NQs doesn’t mean anything other than this is what they’ve decided to pay. Clearly it’s made you desperate to work for them, but I’m afraid it does not elevate the quality of the firm far above MC and US competitors, as you have been so anxious to assert.

Wachtell is the most prestigious firm in Amercia because of the quality of work it handles and its PEP (which is a bi-product of the quantity of high quality work it handles). The firm’s special recognition is not because of the salary, lol. Use your brain. Clients couldn’t give a hoot what junior associates are being paid, why would high NQ rates encourage anybody to instruct a firm/rate them highly?

As far as PEP, now you are simply making excuses for the fact you have said something which didn’t stand to scrutiny. The fact is, you said Latham is viewed as superior to other firms because of its PEP, yet it tuns out Latham’s PEP is very good but not outstanding and behind a number of others. I am certain you did not realise this. Whether the firm offers training contracts has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Good luck with your training contract applications. I would advise applying to some firms other than Latham, in spite of your unfounded assumption that ‘DLA tier’ is beneath you. You are currently jobless and would do well to remember that.

Anonymous

” White & Case and Shearman are more prestigious than the likes of Fried Frank, Pillsbury, Proskauer, Morgan Lewis etc etc.”

Nonsense. Among those firms are some of the best aviation finance and fund formation teams in the City. Get your facts right.

Anonymous

Get my facts right? Eh? Did i mention whether those particular firms were any good at aviation finance or funds? I couldn’t care less which of their individual practice teams in london you rate. Fieldfisher is decent at litigation, so what?

They are without doubt less prestigious firms than W&C and Shearman. See Vault or Chambers or literally any independent rankings anywhere. Or just ask someone, because everyone knows this apart from you, frankly.

Anonymous

Strength of practice area is intrinsically linked to prestige. And the firms you mention aren’t even higher on Vault than the others hahaha.

Anonymous

That guy is clearly a dumbass student; not only are firms’ salary supposedly irrelevant in determining prestige but practice area strengths too! Even the vault rankings he cites betray his arguments – SAD!

Calling him ‘DLA tier dumbassery’ was being generous

Anonymous

^ “SAD!” have I been arguing with Donald Trump? haha.

Look, I am a trainee solicitor. You are merely a TC applicant who’s fallen in love with L&W and has confidence far exceeding your knowledge. Use this opportunity to learn – all I’m doing is pointing out your mistaken beliefs.

The Vault rankings don’t ‘betray my arguments’, that’s a gross exaggeration. All firms listed are behind W&C, all are also behind Shearman except Proskauer (which I will accept is probably on a similar footing prestige-wise and I was perhaps harsh to include).

The idea that because of their aviation finance teams/funds teams in london (consisting of what, 4 or 5 lawyers, probably?), the firms mentioned are all on the same level as W&C is total bollocks. None of them are. If Proskauer is perhaps on the same level as Shearman then it’s because of its corporate capabilities (not aviation finance or funds). So, on any view, you and your mate above don’t really know what you’re talking about.

Anonymous

Fried Frank has a large funds team in the city and globally, as does Proskauer. Not 4-5 lawyer teams.

Anonymous

All 3 firms are top quality.

All have certain practices the others would be delighted to have.

Shearman and W&C are more full service. Latham is very finance focused.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Shearman is doing nowhere near as badly as is often suggested, especially in London. They’re one of the few American firms here which are equally strong in M&A, capital markets and banking. They might not be growing at the same pace as Latham, but they also don’t seem to want to.

(6)(1)

Anonymous

What was the NQ rate at Greenberg Glusker LLP this spring?

(3)(3)

Anonymous

It is a figure breaking the ceiling of 100%. Remuneration packages have been negotiated in Kgs of Gold as a recognition of their top top worth and to prevent inflation devaluing that.

(16)(0)

Kronos

It’s a little-known fact that the Greenberg Glusker LLP NQ rate is pinned to the Venezuelan bolivar. NQ salaries have actually done up 4,000% since I started this sentence.

(30)(1)

Anonymous

Top bantz, 9/11

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Why is W&C NQ rate so low?

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Because they see no need to increase it. If you think there isn’t a massive supply of good quality candidates who are up for earning £105k, you’re wrong. And it’s a calculated risk – there aren’t that many destinations to which people can run for more money.

(8)(1)

Anonymous

Eve Cornwell turned down or got rejected by Latham Watkins’s

(1)(3)

Anonymous

turned them down

(1)(2)

Anonymous

I’m not sure what the point is here. Is it an assertion that the university someone went to means that they automatically must have performed superbly during their training contract? Or are you asserting that Clifford Chance has lower standards than White & Case, and will offer an NQ place to any trainee, regardless of their merit and training contract performance, based solely on the university they went to, perhaps in an attempt to artificially prop up their trainee retention figures?

Whichever it is, if you truly are from Clifford Chance, how do either of these assertions make you/the Firm look good?

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Have a cup of tea, the amount of assumptions you’re making

(0)(2)

Anonymous

What’s the point of the original comment? Why is the individual’s university relevant? Or an industrial placement? Why are they comparing White & Case to Clifford Chance?

And, for Legal Cheek, why is there an apostrophe in its:

“The firm, which recruits around 50 rookies each year, said it’s newly qualified (NQ) lawyers will …”

(6)(0)

Anonymous

One qualified into the Hong Kong office – that’s kinda cool

(10)(1)

Anonymous

Thoughts on Vinson & Elkins??

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Firmly in the category of unremarkable firms which pay their small number of lawyers large amounts. If they didn’t pay as much as they pay, I am pretty sure they would be ignored.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Work for them if you love oil/gas and plan to stay in the sector indefinitely. If not, you’ll get bored out of your skull very fast and then find yourself without much by way of transferable skills.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

If I was a genius and got offers from every firm applied to for a NQ position in london, this would be my order of preference (personal opinion):

Skadden, Kirkland, Latham, Sull&Cro, DPW, Simpson, Sidley, Weil, Gibson, Cleary, Debevoise, W&C, MC firms, Shearman, Ropes, Paul Hastings, JD and then the rest I don’t know (Mofo, Akin, Milbank, Dechert, Covington, Fried etc.)

MC firms would have been near the top a few years ago but I reckon now Debevoise/W&C is right on the borderline where you where you would take it over the MC..and if you don’t care about salaries then Simpson/Sidley would roughly be the borderline

(14)(2)

Anonymous

The first 6 firms you mention, fair enough.

The others I am not so sure. I really feel the issue is money, tbh. I think if MC firms were to increase salaries even to c.100k NQ, the idea that those other firms (outside your top 6) are a stronger option would really fade. It’s a big if, it still hasn’t happened yet, but surely at some stage the MC firms have to raise. They cannot pay 80-85k in perpetuity while US pay ceiling keeps going up.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Money is quite obviously the issue and you are correct that if MC salaries were commensurate with US ones absolutely nobody would be talking about preferring to join the likes of W&C

(2)(1)

Anonymous

perhaps but money talks!! higher salaries have that magical pull..

(4)(0)

Anonymous

>”… surely at some stage the MC firms have to raise. They cannot pay 80-85k in perpetuity while US pay ceiling keeps going up.”

I suggest that they can pay 80-85k because they have no choice, and that they will continue to do so indefinitely.

A certain Magic Circle firm had a ‘meet the managing partnership’ meeting with the entire firm last week. It was held in the auditorium, and live streamed to any employee who wanted to watch it. One of the questions from an unnamed associate was, ‘Why don’t we match US salaries’. This is also a question which has been discussed repeatedly between associates, and asked at team meetings with various HR partners. The answer last week was, in my view, a lot of waffle about collegiality, the Firms’ culture and how everyone on the stage (other senior partners) had been offered more money to move firms in the past, but chose to stay. This followed previous comments about how the Firm offered flexible working, better diversity and inclusion than US firms, and greater understanding of mental health issues.

Perhaps these factors are enough to staunch the flow of associates from Magic Circle firms. I doubt it, though: those who are attracted to six-figure salaries at the expense of their social lives are not going to be dissuaded by ‘touchy-feely’ intangibles with which people can not pay their mortgages.

The associates who will stay at Magic Circle firms are (a) those using it as a stepping stone to moving in-house; (b) those who are risk averse and believe the Magic Circle-perpetuated wisdom that US firms are brutal “sweatshops” which flog their associates to within an inch of their mental and physical health*; and (c) those who like their Magic Circle firm, think that £80k is enough for a 20-something, and value stability and what they know (which is not an unreasonable attitude).

(* Which may be true, I don’t know – I’m just noting that this is the ‘bogey man’ tale told to scare people. I’m not qualified to comment on how true it is, merely that it’s used by the MC to retain people.)

Finally, there aren’t enough places for all the Magic Circle’s associates in US law firms, so the risk of losing associates is limited. By contrast, Magic Circle partners are very valuable, as they potentially bring clients with them. Accordingly, the Magic Circle are sensible in focusing their money on maintaining/increasing PEP to hang on to their partners, rather than associate salaries: retaining partners matters more than retaining associates.

I’m happy to be corrected? What do other people think?

(14)(0)

Anonymous

A lot of what you say is correct, hanging on to partners is vital and it’s obvious MC firms cannot match Milbank/Cravath scale salaries without decimating their profitability, which already lags behind many US firms.

They can, however, pay more than 85k. MC associates are not demanding £140k for NQs, I think it’s widely acknowledged this is not realistic. But there is a huge amount of dissatisfaction at MC firms’ reluctance to get near the likes of W&C/Shearman, £100k NQ is more than doable. Atm MC firms pay this amount (some slightly more) by about 2pqe, so it is not total destruction of the pay structure which is being asked for, just a reasonable adjustment to get closer to the market rate of international competitor firms.

The other point is that while MC salaries remain relatively low, continuing to haemorrhage associates is in itself damaging profitability. The wasted training costs on lawyers who depart on qualification or shortly after are vast (six figures per trainee). Hiring new people is time consuming and expensive, and they very often aren’t as good as the people who have left. Work product suffers as a result, which in turn inflicts collateral damage to reputation. None of this is good news for MC firms’ bottom line.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

OK, that makes sense, but what is the counter-argument: why *haven’t* any of the Magic Circle moved to the magic six-figure bracket? What is their logic?

Anony

One of White & Case’s best partners. in fact a global practice group head is a brunel graduage. So you can f right off with your backward elitist fantasy.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Where is that Corbyn troll? S/he should be all over this thread like smallpox blisters.

(2)(0)

Old Man

The arrogance of some of these comments…blatantly just disillusioned LLB students at some former polytechnic.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

They’ve all decided they’re going to work for latham, apparently.

My favourite was “why is the W&C NQ salary so low?”. Like, genuine bewilderment.

(6)(0)

Comments are closed.

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