It’s easy to forget that one of the biggest names in global corporate law has only been around in its current form since 2010 – when London’s Lovells merged with Washington DC’s Hogan Hartson. 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 49 offices in 26 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 topping $2 billion for the first time and global profit per equity partner rising 2% to $1.28 million (£987,000) – 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 chair, 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 £78,000. Make it that far and 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 9:13am start and 7:55pm leave time – 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 remain pretty sceptical.
“The firm talks of innovation, but there is very little evidence of it on the ground,” says one. While another adds: “We’ve been told we’re pioneers in tech, but in my time here I’ve seen a lot more to contradict this than support it.” The document management system is much criticised and not everyone rates the new Lenovo computers.
Another focus has been the ongoing renovation of the firm’s grand Holborn offices, which despite their age continue to score well in our survey thanks in part to that much-desired feature: an in-house gym (which is apparently pretty good). We hear that the plan is to convert most of Atlantic House to open plan working. Some are apparently “terrified” by this.
Fortunately, there are no plans to overhaul the highly rated staff cafeteria, which is acclaimed for its excellent desserts and delicious cookies.