It’s all about the big money, money, money at US heavyweight Akin Gump. One junior insider pithily sums it up: “10 for the salary. No material fringe benefits, but who cares?!”
As you’d expect, this MoneyLaw firm posted a healthy set of financials this year. Double-digit gains were to be seen in profit per equity (PEP) partner stats where average pay packets soared to $2.4 million (£1.4 million), a healthy uplift of 13.5%, while gross revenue jumped up 6% to $1.03 billion (£791,000). Still, while Akin Gump’s PEP is high, it’s not at the level of some of the very top US firms.
This wedge has worked its way down to the junior end of the firm, where London-based newly qualified lawyers have seen salaries swell to an eye watering $190,000 (£143,000), while trainees can expect to enjoy a hefty £100,000 across the course of the two-year training programme.
Washington DC-headquarterd Akin Gump offers four training contracts in London each year. The experience is typical of a US firm with a smaller London office: lots of hands-on experience, but not much training infrastructure. “You learn more billing 2k a year than you would with regular lectures,” one of the firm’s trainees tells us.
Another reports: “As a junior you find yourself doing the full spectrum of trainee to senior associate work — often in the same day.” Happily there’s plenty of support from partners, who are an intense yet down to earth bunch. Even the “senior partners get stuck in and own their deals”. Fellow trainees are “good for a sympathetic ear”.
Housed in London’s bustling Spitalfields Market, Akin Gump’s presence in London owes a lot to the firm’s takeover fellow US outfit Bingham McCutchen in 2014. The focus here is on finance and restructuring work, with UK senior partner James Roome one of the most respected in the business for the latter. Stateside Akin Gump is well known for its political lobbying practice, and partner Melissa Laurenza has been representing Paul Manafort in the Special Counsel investigation into Russian government efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Work/life balance veers on the side of work, with an average leave time of after 9pm. It’s not the place if you’re looking for a wild time after hours. But this is in line with expectations one trainee suggests: “You don’t come here for the work/life balance.” Another says: “We all get on but people are here to work not play.” Keen to dispel the myth that US firms fair worse hours than the magic circle lot, one trainee reports: “You don’t always have to be in the office, but you do always have to be responsive.”
Certainly, it’s all a long way from the firm’s origins specialising in criminal law having been founded by two FBI agents.