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”.
Several NQ pay rises in quick succession are illustrative of a newfound determination from the firm to hang onto its talent — freshly qualified Mayer Brown solicitors now earn £90,000. With profit per equity partner (PEP) at the firm rising by 6.5% to $1.8 million (£1.37 million) in the most recent financial year and revenue rising for a seventh straight year to an all-time high of $1.48 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. That pay strategy seems to have been eroded of late as the top quality instructions keep flooding in, with NQ salary jumping 26% since 2017.
In London, Mayer Brown concentrates on finance, litigation, restructuring and high-stakes insurance work, while also boasting highly-rated niches in intellectual property, pensions 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.” In the transactional teams in particular, trainees are “required to liaise directly with clients and lawyers at other firms”. One trainee sums it up by saying “not all the work that I have been doing is absolutely glamorous, but most of it (especially in my current seat) has been extremely interesting”.
Secondments are another Mayer Brown strong point. According to the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2020-21, over half of trainees do a client placement (sometimes internationally) while a lucky few do time at one of the firm’s overseas offices.
Mayer Brown trainees and junior associates have sampled life at the likes of Lloyds, HSBC, Marsh, Unilever, Wells Fargo and British Land. Common firm secondment destinations include Chicago and Hong Kong. Mayer Brown is apparently the only firm with more than 200 lawyers in each of London, New York and Hong Kong, the world’s three largest financial centres.
Work/life balance is not bad for this bracket of firm, while the general culture and friendliness of the place is said to be pretty good too. Trainees are “a bunch that will go through hell and back with you”, and there’s “a real attitude of everyone being in it together”. One newbie says that his cohort are “really good friends” and “spend a lot of time together outside of working hours which helps with the natural dips and lows of trainee life”. Partners are “very approachable” — and the ones in finance apparently “have some serious bantz”. They get their sleeves rolled up, too: a Mayer Brownite reports that “the senior partner is on a matter with me and is as visible as anyone else in the whole firm”.
Perks are decent, with the firm’s London canteen, called ‘The Hub’, the standout freebie. The “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”, win widespread approval. A refurbishment of the firm’s London office in the Broadgate Tower development near Liverpool Street — featuring “hipster meeting rooms” — has been widely welcomed. The Greta generation also praises efforts at making the place eco-friendly: it’s still “paper-heavy”, perhaps inevitably, but otherwise the firm is “doing its utmost”.
Mayer Brown’s young are hoping for a similar refresh of the firm’s IT, which provokes some grumbles. The general consensus on remote working seems to be that there’s lots of intangible support (e.g. “regular trainee cohort chats with Grad Recruitment”) but hard kit has been lacking — particularly at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, although since then Legal Cheek understands that things have improved. “Teams are working well together and the IT team has been good, but I don’t like Citrix and there’s been no support from the firm on acquiring home office set-ups”, one Zoomer complains. Still, it’s a learning curve.