Advice

‘I’ve got first year scheme offers from A&O, HSF and Slaughters — which should I pick?’

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They all run on the same dates

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one first year student has secured open day offers from three top law firms — but unfortunately the dates clash. Which should they choose?

“I’m a first year not sure whether to go to Allen & Overy’s scheme, Herbert Smith Freehill’s scheme or Slaughter and May’s scheme because they all run on the same dates. Which one should I pick? I’m genuinely frazzled. Advice please and thanks.”

If you have a career conundrum, email us at team@legalcheek.com.

42 Comments

Anon

A&O

(35)(9)

Kirkland NQ

Come to the ‘Land

(17)(6)

Solicitor who Solicits

Close your eyes and point to the names of the firms on paper.

(6)(0)

Anonnon

A&O as they are the only one to fast-track you next year.

HSF is a good social, but won’t get you anywhere for VS.

Slaughters. Lol.

(51)(8)

Anonymous

Trust the universe. First person you meet called Herbert or Allan or Slaughter seals the deal. I have a friend called Slaughter who plays in a death metal band. Lovely chap really, his real name is Tim.

(65)(0)

Anon

Do you have any interest in working internationally? If yes, HSF if want to try litigating, A&O if you fancy Finance and either for Corporate.

If you aren’t bothered about working abroad, same as above but Slaughters for Corporate.

If you have no idea what you fancy practising and just want to sample life in a law firm, stick a pin in them.

And enjoy getting battered at sports night tonight.

Yours,

A jealous Associate

(29)(0)

infonews

Absolute bollocks, Slaughters send you to the most exotic locations as a trainee by far including turbopenis firms like Wachtell Lipton in NYC or big law firm names in Asia-Pac or Europe. “A&O” lmao

(20)(18)

Anon

A six month secondment is not the same as an international career.

How many Slaughters trainees build their careers in the offices of those best friend firms?

(15)(0)

Maggie the fofofo

Go with the firm you would most like to train at. Especially if you can get fast-tracked to a vac scheme.

(10)(0)

Ladbrokes

In order – Slaughters, Herbies, A&O.

(10)(34)

Life coach

tbh, none of the above. I’d decline them all, making sure to share screenshots of your witty emails rejecting each firm with LC and on social media. This will mark you out to US firms as an ambitious character with excellent judgement and the sort of BDE necessary to truly progress in the corporate world. Don’t bother applying them, they will shower you with offers. Have a great life!

(71)(2)

I only care about M&A

Slaughter has the best M&A practice out of the three, just saying.

(16)(6)

US Firm 1PQE

How can anyone care about M&A? You must be trying to ruin this person’s life. M&A is like groundhog day of drafting 95% same SPAs/SHAs and DD reports every single day of your life.

(53)(2)

Realist

Yes, I don’t understand the attraction of M&A/Corporate either. I’m a Disputes NQ in a US firm, and had I not managed to get a Disputes NQ role in London, my backup plan was to look for Disputes roles in Dubai. Failing that, I would have switched career, perhaps looking at financial services compliance roles.

I simply don’t understand the attraction of much of the transactional side of the profession (other than the money, which isn’t enough in the long term to mitigate a miserable job). I suspect that inertia and momentum play a part: some people decide they want to be lawyers – knowing remarkably little about what that actually involves – and then once they’re committed to the GDL and LPC, their arm is in the mangle.

Of course, I respect that other people have different preferences.

(37)(1)

Anon

Pick funds over other corporate areas. Intellectually stimulating, feels “technical” from an early level rather than just churn, buoyant candidate market globally and good exits if you decide to.

(9)(3)

hah

Lmao f*ck off with the poxy funds crap mate

fake123@gmail

What is ‘funds’ in this context?

Anonymous

Lol hark at the disputes poindexter. Haven’t you got a draft email to send to the mid-level associate to review?

(8)(24)

Realist

You make a couple of valid points. Addressing them:

1. Disputes does appear to be more hierarchical. For example, we are representing clients in multi-£Bn disputes, and everything I do is reviewed by senior associates, and anything important requires partner sign-off. Those who expect to be independent and autonomous should probably choose a different job. I defer to Corporate-types as to whether they are single-handedly smashing out deals (‘Kirkland NQ’ notwithstanding, of course!), but I think this is probably an inherent facet of well-paid legal jobs. If you want genuine independent responsibility, become a criminal legal aid lawyer. I spent weeks on mini-pupilages and work experience with criminal legal aid solicitors: from the very start of their careers they have real independence, particularly the barristers. I trust that I needn’t explain why I preferred the prospect of a £130k start salary over a £25k start salary.

2. For the benefit of other readers, ‘poindexter’ is a pejorative synonym for geek or nerd:

“Poindexter
/ˈpɔɪndɛkstə/
INFORMAL•US
a boringly studious and socially inept person.”

Disputes lawyers do get to actually practice law, and therefore need to be studious. In the Magic Circle firm in which I trained, it was notable that law was almost totally absent from Corporate work; rather, associates could be confused for mere paper-shufflers for bankers. Again, I’m not knocking their choices, merely agreeing with your accusation that disputes lawyers are the geeky people who actual know the law. For another example, whenever the transactional lawyers don’t understand the law, or want updates on the current law on, e.g. contractual interpretation, they ask the litigators. You are therefore quite right in your implied criticism: if you don’t want to actually do law, stay away from disputes. This is, however, easy to do: it’s the most competitive practice area, and most people struggle to qualify in to it (source: recruiters, NQ surveys, and a disputes partner in a Magic Circle firm who warned senior associates not to denigrate transactional teams to trainees, because they simply can’t employ the number of trainees who want disputes roles).

Thanks for your contribution.

Realist

I’ve just noticed an interesting ATL article praising transactional lawyers over litigators, so in the interests of balance I thought I’d share it:

‘There are vast disparities in terms of both market demand and exit opportunities for litigators versus transactional lawyers. […] I must confess that when I was a practicing litigator, I held transactional types in a vague sort of disdain. They’re not real lawyers, I’d think to myself; they’re just handmaidens to bankers, lackeys of corporate executives, functionaries who “paper up” deals negotiated by others. […] But now, with the benefit of two decades of working in and around the legal profession, I have reached a different view.’

https://abovethelaw.com/2020/02/mammas-dont-let-your-babies-grow-up-to-be-litigators/

Trying to be helpful

It does – and important if the person wants to do M&A. But how on earth would a first year know that?

Pick the one that helps you the most. Doing a HSF open day might be interesting but i know it doesn’t really advantage you in vac scheme interviews. Is the same the case with the others?

(3)(0)

Anon

Reject them all and re-apply to Kirkland, Fried Frank etc. Their funds teams will be more interesting than anything you can get at the shop you list.

(7)(11)

Dennis

I thought fried frank only take ex SJ Berwin?

(9)(0)

Anon

The Chinese take SJ Berwin

(5)(0)

Anon

Not Slaughters, everyone I know there is miserable.

(24)(8)

1st year law student having a break from Chitty

Those are peasant firms. Go to Kirkland, the firm of the elite.

(14)(3)

insssr

Hi Kirkland NQ.

(3)(0)

Not actually a Kirkland NQ

Depends what car you want.

If you want a nice one Kirkland is the only way.

(8)(1)

HSF Interview holder

Not Lathams or Sidley? 👀

(0)(0)

Brian Griffin

I have a tip on how to attend all three:

Wish it, want it, do it.

(9)(1)

Anon

If you’re thinking long term… slaughter and may has the most toxic office culture and hierarchy within the firm. If you know people in the firm and ask them about their honest opinion of S and M, they will tell you how bad it is to work there. Yeah their M&A work is good but besides from that there isn’t much else so they use the “multi specialism” label to sound unique. Also, an insight scheme at slaughters is unlikely to give you any advantage for the application. You could equally just attend a firm presentation evening at your university campus and include it in your cover letter and it would be enough to get you to a Vac Scheme and TC interview.

HSF is the best in terms of international prospects. The insight scheme will help you get onto the vac scheme as they openly tell candidates at events that they take into consideration for Vac Scheme Assessment Centres those that have done an insight scheme with the firm.

Allen & Overy is also likely to help you in terms of future prospects of applying for a vac scheme. Its also a lot more diverse compared to HSF and Slaughter and May.

(17)(7)

Anon

If you’re thinking long term…

slaughter and may has the most toxic office culture and hierarchy within the firm. If you know people in the firm and ask them about their honest opinion of S and M, they will tell you how bad it is to work there. Yeah their M&A work is good but besides from that there isn’t much else so they use the “multi specialism” label to sound unique. Also, an insight scheme at slaughters is unlikely to give you any advantage for the application. You could equally just attend a firm presentation evening at your university campus and include it in your cover letter and it would be enough to get you to a Vac Scheme and TC interview.

HSF is the best in terms of international prospects. The insight scheme will help you get onto the vac scheme as they openly tell candidates at events that they take into consideration for Vac Scheme Assessment Centres those that have done an insight scheme with the firm.

Allen & Overy is also likely to help you in terms of future prospects of applying for a vac scheme. Its also a lot more diverse compared to HSF and Slaughter and May.

(0)(0)

Anon

I genuinely do not care. Humble brag somewhere else.

(7)(7)

What’s not to love?

They are all tosspot blood sucking soulless corporate law firms where you will have loads of prestige, no time to have any real out of office life, where they will suck you dry (and not in a good way) and leave you all burnt out, spiritually unfulfilled and just another desperate and semi-demented slave of the Machine. But hey you’ll be RICH!!

What’s not to love?

(8)(8)

First year

Im in a similar situation actually. Have White & Case, HSF and A&o schemes dates that clash. It’s as if they’ve planned this out lmao.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

White & Case is a firm Id love to transfer to a few years PQE. Glad I didn’t train there though. Of those three I’d want to probably train and qualify at HSF and then weigh up options at 3-5 pqe for a lateral move.

(3)(5)

jim

Why they’re shit

(6)(0)

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