Norton Rose Fulbright

The Legal Cheek View

Outside of the magic circle, Norton Rose Fulbright is the biggest UK-headquartered law firm in the world, with global revenue at well over the £1 billion mark. The sheer scale and internationalism of the operation, with over 50 offices across five continents, is a major draw to students; as is the quality of the work at a firm that is particularly well thought of for its finance, energy, property, high-end insurance and transport practices.

The A*-rated training is everything you’d expect from an international mega firm. Current trainees report “quality training in a supportive environment” although note that it “varies dependent on department and supervisor”. Another adds further insight: “They really give you the tools to face new concepts and tasks head on.”

The work trainees are exposed to depends on team and supervisor. While the overriding ethos is “If you want good work and show you can do it well, then you will get it”, there can be can be some administrative tasks, particularly in the disputes teams and banking. “It varies a lot from one seat to the next, and also between different types of deals. For bigger transactions I’ve mainly been doing processing work, whereas for smaller deals I’ve been able to take on more responsibility,” another NRF insider tells us.

However, the firm’s new legal process hub in Newcastle has apparently “meant trainees have been more able to take on work with greater complexity”, and with its continued expansion more lower level work is flowing north from London.

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Insiders highlight international and client secondments – which Norton Rose Fulbright offers in some of the most substantial numbers of any firm – as a good opportunity to experience higher levels of responsibility. 55% of the firm’s rookies have spent time overseas for work, with common secondment destinations including Sydney, Singapore, Tokyo and Paris. One Norton Rose Fulbright trainee reports: “I went to Paris for six months in my second seat to work on our Paris aviation finance team. Absolutely brilliant experience, lots of responsibility and trips to Airbus factories to deliver planes.” Meanwhile, 23% of trainees have done client secondments; spending time at, among other big names, HSBC and BP.

Expectations here are high. So while partners may be “very friendly and chatty people socially” don’t be surprised if some “appear appalled if you don’t know about some obscure part of practice”. The key is to “put the hours in and earn their respect”.

Happily, there is a “brilliant collegiate” spirit among trainees. “Great people, all the trainees get on and hang out. Associates in my seat are chatty and engaging,” one Norton Rose Fulbright insider tells us. Beware, though, the occasional “absolute hospital pass” when moving to a new seat.

Another plus is the firm’s London office, which is among the City’s fanciest – sitting prettily on the South Bank of the Thames in all its glass and steel splendour. “Probably the best front door view of any top City firm. Looking straight out over the river, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Hard to beat after a long day in the office,” is how one insider puts it. The views from the “dreamy” terrace on the ninth floor are spectacular. “Managed to smuggle my significant other up there for the view which was nice,” one cheeky trainee reveals.

But be mindful, wannabe Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers, that if you get in you’ll be spending a fair chunk of time at 3 More London Riverside. An average leave the office time of 8:03pm is not bad for a firm in Norton Rose Fulbright’s class. But the practical effect of that is still, as one trainee puts it: “During the week I work, during the weekend I have a life.” While some trainees report “much better [work/life balance] than peers at other firms”, others emphasise just how variable the hours can be. Says one: “As a trainee, you understandably don’t have control of your workload. Some supervisors are great at managing this as far as possible and ensuring you can go on holiday uninterrupted and go to events you have tickets for, others are not so great.” Another adds: “First month of this seat was leaving work by 6:30pm latest, currently haven’t been home before midnight for a month. Vaguely remember what my flat looks like.”

The upside of staying late is that lawyers get a free dinner in the recently renovated canteen after 7pm, and a free taxi home after 9pm. This ethos of looking after those who work hard seems to permeate the culture of the firm, with Norton Rose Fulbright seen as one of the nicer of the very big outfits. A decent social scene – led by a “pretty active trainee group and lots of internal groups planning events” – is evidence of a rather more joyful institutional mindset than possessed by some rivals. The firm’s in-house bar, which is open on Thursdays and Fridays, helps in this respect. Meanwhile, a tie-up with the McLaren Honda Formula 1 team (the McLaren Group is a client) apparently yields some impressive freebies.

Pulling down Norton Rose Fulbright’s score for perks this year is the firm’s much bemoaned removal of free Financial Times access for trainees, and its loyalty to Blackberrys – which are still given to trainees over iPhones. Word has it that this latter policy will shortly be ditched as the firm becomes more tech-savvy.

Deadlines

Open Day

This open day takes place on 20 December 2018
Applications open 01/10/2018
Applications close 07/12/2018

Spring Vacation Scheme 2019 (Law and non-law finalists and graduates)

The scheme runs from 8 – 16 April 2019
Applications open 01/10/2018
Applications close 13/01/2019

Training Contract (Finalists and graduates)

To commence March 2021/September 2021
Applications open 01/10/2018
Applications close 13/01/2019

Summer Vacation Scheme 2019 (Penultimate-year law undergraduates)

Scheme one runs from 17 – 28 June 2019 and scheme two runs from 8 – 19 July 2019
Applications open 01/10/2018
Applications close 31/01/2019

First Step Vacation Scheme 2019 (First-year undergraduates)

The programme runs from 8 –12 April 2019
Applications open 01/10/2018
Applications close 31/01/2019

Open Day

This open day takes place on 10 April 2019
Applications open 01/10/2018
Applications close 29/03/2019

Training Contract

To commence March 2021/September 2021
Applications open 01/10/2018
Applications close 14/07/2019

Training Contract (Penultimate-year law students)

To commence March 2021/September 2021
Applications open 01/06/2019
Applications close 14/07/2019

Insider Scorecard

A*
Training
A
Quality of work
A
Peer support
A
Partner approach-ability
B
Work/life balance
B
Tech
B
Perks
A*
Office
B
Canteen
A
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 £49,000
Newly qualified salary £77,000
Profit per equity partner £673,000
GDL grant £8,000
LPC grant £10,000

Hours

Average arrival time 09:12
Average leave time 20:03
Annual target hours No targets
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.

Secondments

Chances of secondment abroad 55%
Chances of client secondment 23%

Secondment probabilities 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 45
Latest trainee retention rate 75%
Offices 59
Countries 34
Minimum A-level requirement AAB
Minimum degree requirement 2:1

Diversity

UK female associates 57%
UK female partners 26%
UK BME associates 12%
UK BME partners 8%

Universities Current Trainees Attended

The Firm In Its Own Words