Jones Day has been thrust into the limelight this year thanks to its famous client, Donald Trump. A host of the firm’s lawyers are serving in the controversial US president’s administration. It’s not a position that Jones Day is used to, with a reputation for valuing secrecy (or as the firm puts it, “confidentiality”). A case in point was the summer 2017 pay rise for newly qualified solicitors in London, which saw their remuneration jump to a whopping £100,000. Most firms would want to shout about this, but Jones Day kept schtum and the news only came out after it was leaked to Legal Cheek.
In the UK Jones Day is probably best known among students for a culture that sees its young lawyers given plenty of responsibility. A quirky training contract system sees trainees float between departments, with the onus on them to approach partners to ask for work. Some love it, others find it too much. Here is a report from the front-line: “They make no secret that it’s sink or swim and you have to shout loudly if you can only doggy paddle. If you can find the right partners and the best way to engage them in walking you through something, though, the training is top-notch. There just isn’t that much of it.”
Most of the Jones Day rookies who responded to the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2017-18 rate the set up, which we understand has been given a bit more structure this year: hence the firm’s A grade for training. As a rule, the work is “pretty good”. Indeed, some rookies rave about it: “I don’t think I’ve ever worked opposite anybody my level or junior, and peers across the city are constantly amazed at the level of advice we’re invited to give clients.”
The firm also scores well for peer support and partner approachability. Of the former, we’re told: “Some really nice people here. Lots of psychos also.” Of the latter, one trainee relates: “I have an unfortunate habit of calling everyone mate and it doesn’t feel weird with even the biggest dogs.” Associates “can also be very hit and miss”, though.
As you have probably gathered by now, Jones Day is a fairly intense place, which means hours at the longer end of the City law spectrum. Supervisors apparently “leave it up to you which hours you use to get the work done, but it can be quite punishing at times”. Some complain about “a lack of appreciation as to workloads when working across multiple departments, which can result in a lot of 1/2am finishes.” Still, there’s a wider acceptance that this “comes with the territory”. Anyone hoping for help from the latest artificial intelligence software shouldn’t hold their breath. “It takes about 10 years to get tech approved by Washington. Lotus Notes is shit,” groans one trainee.
Jones also does respectably for international opportunities – despite offering relatively few trainee secondments. This is largely down to the week-long ‘New Lawyers’ training academy in Washington DC that Jones Day puts all its rookies through. Client secondments are rare. An insider tells us that “this is because people often get poached, but in my view this is short-sighted.”
Not everyone realises that the firm’s substantial presence in London dates back to UK legacy firm Gouldens, which was gobbled up by Jones Day in 2003 during a rapid period of growth for the American giant, whose own roots are in Cleveland, Ohio. As a result, the Tudor Street office, located off the Strand around the corner from Freshfields, retains a certain English charm. In this age of open plan, Jones Day’s rookies enjoy the fact that NQs get their own office, “and they’re good offices” apparently with plenty of natural light in the most part.
The perks are good. The stand out freebie is the on-site gym, although it could be bigger. The canteen is also well-regarded, with “breakfast and lunches always of a high standard and the cafe staff are always friendly”. Meanwhile, the social life is positively bouncing; firm socials are apparently “always well-attended”. However, one trainee notes that “it’s not quite as wild as Legal Cheek readers might want to believe.”