One of the biggest names in global corporate law has only been around in its current form for a decade now — London’s Lovells having merged with Washington DC’s Hogan Hartson in 2010. At the time of the merger there was much speculation over what the new name would be, with Love Harts and HogLove the most memorable suggestions, but the firm sensibly settled on Hogan Lovells. The combined megafirm now has 48 offices in approaching 30 different countries, including a substantial presence in South America and Asia as well as Europe and the US.
Offering one of the best combinations of scale and quality outside the magic circle — with global revenue this year again topping $2 billion and global profit per equity partner rising 8% to reach the million pound mark (4% to £1.04 million) — Hogan Lovells specialises in about every practice area you can imagine. This is particularly attractive to students in that it allows them to keep their options open while training and then qualify into a first rate team.
There are also opportunities for international secondments across a wide range of offices. Current trainees have spent time in New York, Dubai, Hong Kong and Johannesburg, among other locations. Client secondments are fairly common too, with trainees spending time at the likes of Citibank, Merck Sharp & Dohme and Prudential.
In addition, Hogan Lovells also has one of the leading pro bono and corporate social responsibility operations in the City, with a wide variety of clients including the British Paralympic Association. The firm’s former chair and senior counsel, Nicholas Cheffings, is currently head of City law diversity scheme PRIME.
Junior fee-earning work varies widely, but as you would expect at an elite outfit like this the adminy tasks are interspersed with more challenging assignments. One insider sums up the situation: “This can vary massively — litigation seats can become bundlemania but equally can give rise to opportunities to draft research notes and witness statements. It depends on the team and partners that you are working for.” Another adds: “Very good at starting with the basics and building up to associate-level work.” The training is said to have gone up a notch this year: there is “lots of it”, but also a culture of giving trainees “lots of responsibility”. Also, “people generally say ‘thank you’, which goes a long way”.
Levels of responsibility increase sharply in the associate ranks — where NQ pay rates have recently been increased to £90,000 in a bonus-tied package worth up to a total of £117,000. Make it that far and if you are good you have a decent chance of reaching the top of the firm, with Hogan Lovells boasting a good reputation for promoting its own to partner level.
Another strong point is peer support. “I can ask the other trainees anything,” one of them tells us. Bonds are strengthened during regular socials, including “Thirsty Thursdays”. The summer party in the Tower of London this year had an open bar — a sure sign that the firm is doing well financially!
Partners are friendly, but don’t get too close: “No bantz with the partners I’m afraid.” The hours — with an average start after 9am and an average leave time just before 7:30pm — are similarly well-balanced, for City law. One insider sums up the work/life balance ethos: “People in the team realise that everyone has things to do outside of the office. If you work efficiently during the day and get your work done (and you’re prepared to stay when crunch time really happens), then nobody will bat an eyelid if you leave around 6pm when there’s nothing critical to do (in fact nobody will be around to bat an eyelid).”
Recently Hogan Lovells has been making a big push to make itself more tech-savvy, with investment in IT, experiments with new artificial intelligence technology and cross practice area initiatives to bring about knowledge sharing where a deal has a tech element. But so far the juniors mostly remain unimpressed.
“Most of our technology is outdated and constantly breaks down … Tech support does their best, but only so much you can do from Johannesburg, South Africa and Louisville, USA,” says one.
Another adds: “Laptops and phones are great. Document management system not so much”.
Another focus has been the recent renovation of the firm’s grand Holborn offices, which consistently score well in our survey thanks in part to that much-desired feature: an in-house gym (which is apparently pretty good). But there have been mixed reviews of the new open plan set up that is being trialled.
“The firm is currently testing the open plan, and I am not enjoying it. It is very distracting to work with all the people talking and walking around. It is probably a common trend, and we all will be there one day. Some departments kept the offices and this feels so much better,” reports one trainee, while another worries that “open plan will hinder supervisor-trainee relations as trainees will be more afraid to ask questions or speak up about matters they do not understand”.
The highly rated staff cafeteria has also apparently benefitted from the renovation, with the new ‘Pad Thai bar’ and ‘Pasta bar’ winning the thumbs up, alongside the “scrambled eggs and salmon at breakfast”. Happily, the acclaimed desserts and “delicious” cookies seem undisturbed by the changes.