Allen & Overy

The Legal Cheek View

As rumours of a megamerger with Los Angeles-based giant O’Melveny & Myers continue to swirl, it’s been another year of growth for Allen & Overy. The firm recorded 4% rises in profit per equity partner (PEP) and revenue, to £1.64 million and £1.57 billion respectively. The figures represent a consolidation of last year’s racier growth, which saw PEP and turnover increases in the 16% to 26% range.

A healthy portion of the firm’s riches are being invested in the future, with A&O expanding its Belfast support office – adding 50 jobs over the last 12 months, taking headcount in the Northern Irish capital to over 500. Meanwhile, the firm continues to plough resources into its London ‘Fuse’ lawtech incubator, hosted on the first floor of the firm’s swish Spittalfields Market offices. In July one of the artificial intelligence start-ups based there was acquired by Facebook for $30 million (£26 million).

What’s more, the Fourth Industrial Revolution seems to be reaching the A&O shop floor. IT systems are being upgraded and a new case management system is on its way. In the meantime, envious glances continue to be made in the direction of Fuse. “Start up incubator on the first floor #yah #Shoreditch #flatwhiteeconomy #oldwhitemanagement,” one trainee quips when asked to rate A&O’s tech savvy.

Under the bonnet Allen & Overy remains a traditional magic circle law firm. It’s huge (with a whopping 44 offices in 31 countries), has a longstanding reputation for representing the establishment (the firm’s co-founder, George Allen, famously advised King Edward VIII during the abdication crisis of 1936) and offers great perks.

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The free on-site gym is a highlight; as is the top-rated firm canteen (featuring “incredible live cooks who prepare fresh breakfast, lunch and dinner”). Flu jabs are also offered to help lawyers stay healthy, and should any still succumb to health problems there’s an in-house doctor and dentist.

There’s more: A&O’s eclectic perks list also include one of the most generous pensions schemes in the business, an on-site beautician, music rooms (?!), a dance hall (??!!), an in-house bar and the jewel in the crown: two stunning roof terraces overlooking the City where delightful corporate law barbecues are held in the summer. “We’re spoilt but too often forget it,” one trainee tells Legal Cheek.

There is a price for all of this, of course. With such first rate support, no wonder those billing targets are set at a chunky 1,750 hours annually. Our latest survey records Allen & Overy’s average arrival time as 9:16am and the average leave time as 9:10pm. That’s almost 12 hours a day. But as with any top law firm, hours vary wildly – with some late nights/early mornings and weekends standard in the run-up to closure of a deal. Here are three varying accounts from the A&O frontline:

“I’ve worked extremely long hours and weekends for extended periods of time, however, my department did recognise this by giving me time off in lieu and making sure I had a smaller workload for the following few weeks to try and implement some balance.”

“Not unusual to go months without getting home for dinner, regularly expected to work/be available at weekends. However, when there genuinely is no work to be done then no one would question you leaving at 17:31.”

“Generally I am out by 7 or 8, with the occasional late night. My situation is much better than a lot of my peers at City firms but there is a general uncertainty as to what time I will get to leave (unexpected work could arrive at 7pm and keep you till midnight).”

Those seeking a break from the London grind have a very good chance of bagging an international secondment – with over half of trainees spending time abroad with the firm. Popular destinations include Dubai, Singapore and Paris, but there is a smorgasbord of other options.

Some of the best work unquestionably can be found in London, where, one rookie tells us, “the excellent quality of the support teams (and the fact they’re 24hr), means I get to focus on legal work almost exclusively.” Like at any magic circle firm, there is a mix of “really challenging, interesting work” and “churn tasks that require little thought”. As one trainee puts it: “Variable, we’re trainees yo. But quality of work seems better than some other firms where you just hide behind your supervisor all day and never do anything out of your comfort zone.”

Training is often “excellent” and always “tailored” and “responsive”, however those delivering it are a mixed bunch. While senior associates get the thumbs up, a few partners are said to be a bit aloof. “Some partners will not even learn your name during your six months in their department,” one insider tells us. Another reports: “[Partners] are obviously mostly odd, but mainly in an endearing rather than upsetting way.”

This is made up for by the mutual supportiveness of the trainees and NQs. “Some BFFs for life”, one tells us, with another adding: “90% super close, but the odd individual to watch out for who would definitely throw you under the bus.” That’s not a bad ratio for the elite end of City law!

Deadlines

Winter Vacation Scheme 2018 (Penultimate years, finalists and graduates)

This scheme runs from 11 – 15 December 2018
Applications open 01/10/2018
Applications close 31/10/2018

Summer Vacation Scheme 2019 (Penultimate years, finalists and graduates)

This scheme runs from 24 June – 5 July 2019
Applications open 01/10/2018
Applications close 31/12/2018

Training Contract 2020/2021 (Penultimate years, finalists and graduates)

To commence March/September 2020 or March/September 2021
Applications open 01/10/2018
Applications close 31/12/2018

Training Contract 2022

To commence March/September 2022
Applications open 01/10/2018
Applications close 31/12/2018

A&O First (First year students or second years on a four-year course)

This scheme runs on 8 – 9 April and 27 September 2019
Applications open 14/01/2019

Open Day (Second year students onwards and graduates)

The open day takes place on 12 March 2019
Applications open 14/01/2019

Insider Scorecard

A
Training
A
Quality of work
A
Peer support
B
Partner approach-ability
D
Work/life balance
A*
Tech
A*
Perks
A*
Office
A
Canteen
B
Social life

Insider Scorecard Grades range from A* to D and are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2018-19 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK.

Money

First year trainee salary £45,000
Second year trainee salary £50,000
Newly qualified salary £83,000
Profit per equity partner £1,640,000
GDL grant £8,000
LPC grant £10,000

Allen & Overy reduces its GDL grant to £7,000 for those studying outside of London.

Hours

Average arrival time 09:16
Average leave time 21:10
Annual target hours 1,750
Annual leave 25 days

Average arrive and leave times are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2018-19 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK.

General Info

Training contracts 90
Latest trainee retention rate 80%
Offices 44
Countries 31
Minimum A-level requirement AAB
Minimum degree requirement 2:1

Diversity

UK female associates 48%
UK female partners 20%
UK BME associates 18%
UK BME partners 8%

The Firm In Its Own Words