Consistently rated one of the best firms for training in the City, Mayer Brown’s newly qualified (NQ) associates are so well drilled that they’re often targeted by other US and Magic Circle rivals. “There is lots of training at MB and it is excellent, both internal and external,” a current trainee tells us. Another highlights the benefit of the smaller intake: “You are often the only trainee on a matter and as such you are given much more responsibility once you have proved yourself to the team”.
But two rises in NQ pay in quick succession is illustrative of a newfound determination from the firm to hang onto its talent — although the firm may have to hike NQ at a faster rate as pay wars sweep the City. With profit per equity partner (PEP) at the firm rising by 8% to $1.7 million (£1.39 million) this year — more than most Magic Circle firms — and revenue rising for a seventh straight year to an all-time high of $1.38 billion (£1.13 billion), Mayer Brown certainly isn’t short of cash.
Remuneration has previously been a bugbear at the firm, with its US-based management team opting against adopting MoneyLaw rates and instead choosing to follow what is a broadly silver circle junior solicitor pay scale. This dates back to the firm’s English roots in Rowe & Maw, the legacy firm which Mayer Brown merged with in order to establish its base in London. How sustainable that pay strategy proves to be as the top quality instructions keep flooding in remains to be seen.
In London, Mayer Brown concentrates on corporate finance, litigation and high end insurance work, while also boasting highly-rated niches in intellectual property and tech. Alongside standard trainee tasks in these practice areas like bundling, bibling, proof-reading and general admin, insiders tell us that there is “meaty work, such as drafting documents, interesting pieces of research, and attending meetings/court.”
Secondments are another Mayer Brown strong point. According to the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer 2019-20, nearly two thirds of trainees do a client placement (sometimes internationally) while some do time at one of the firm’s overseas offices.
This year Mayer Brown trainees and junior associates have sampled life at the likes of Lloyds, HSBC, Marsh, Unilever and Wells Fargo. Common firm secondment destinations include Chicago and Hong Kong. Mayer Brown is apparently the only firm with more than 200 lawyers in each of these cities and London, the world’s three largest financial centres.
Work/life balance is not bad for this bracket of firm, with a respectable average leave the office time not far off 8pm. Meanwhile, the general culture and friendliness of the place is said to be pretty good. Trainees are “a bunch that will go through hell and back with you”, while partners are generally friendly and accommodating — and the ones in finance apparently “have some serious bantz”.
Perks are plentiful, with the subsidised gym membership the standout freebie (even if some complain that it is on the “stingy” side). A new firm London canteen, called ‘The Hub’, with “barista quality” coffee, cakes and pastries “freshly delivered every day from a boutique bakery” and “lots of options including healthy ones such as juices, smoothies, fresh yoghurts and a great salad bar”, wins widespread approval. A refurbishment of the firm’s London office in the Broadgate Tower development near Liverpool Street has been widely welcomed. Mayer Brown’s young are hoping for similar refresh of the firm’s IT, which provokes plenty of grumbles. But things seem to be improving — slowly. “Upgrading Microsoft was a big deal,” quips a trainee.