Beyond the realms of the Magic Circle, Norton Rose Fulbright is one of the biggest UK-headquartered law firms in the world, with global revenues in excess of £1.5 billion. The sheer scale and internationalism of the operation, with nearly 60 offices across five continents, is a major draw to would-be lawyers; 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 solid training is everything you’d expect from an international mega firm. Current trainees speak highly of the solid “in-team training sessions” but note that it can vary from department to department, with some adopting a more “sink or swim approach”. Another tells us this: “Whilst the level of feedback could be improved, on the whole it’s a good place to train with plenty of more formal training sessions run by the knowledge team and other fee earners.”
The firm’s response to the pandemic, and subsequent shift to home-working, was well received within rookie ranks. “The technology is excellent and enables us to work from home seamlessly”, one spy reports, while another praises the “regular catch up calls” with supervisors via Zoom.
The quality of work rookies cut their teeth on can vary, with one insider reporting being “given a high degree of responsibility early on and a lot of direct (virtual!) client contact”. Another, however, says “juniors are often expected to perform admin heavy tasks because there is very little secretarial/paralegal support in individual teams”. But NRF, on the whole, appears to be striking the right balance. “Some of the tasks you receive as a trainee can be very monotonous (e.g. inserting dates into documents, duplicating documents) but generally fee earners will trust you with more stimulating work once you have demonstrated you can do the basics,” one trainee explains.
NRF offers a veritable smorgasbord of international secondment opportunities, with almost half of rookies reporting spending time overseas with work. Far-flung destinations include *deep breath* Japan, Paris, Australia, Singapore, Milan, Moscow, New York, Dubai and Athens. Meanwhile, a third of trainees have done client secondments; spending time at, among other big names, ExxonMobil, BP and Vitality.
The feeling among trainees is excellent, our sources report, with one proclaiming it “one of the best things about the firm”. Another says their “peers are generally very supportive”, although like we hear with any firm, there is the occasional “bad egg”. Partners appear to be equally supportive, with one trainee telling us they have “no problem” phoning a superior if they have a “question or concern”. One source also praises the firm’s new managing partner Peter Scott, “who has made a real effort to engage with all levels of fee earners and non-fee earners to understand the issues important to them.”
The firm’s London office — sitting prettily on the South Bank of the Thames in all its glass and steel splendour — also gets a major thumbs up. “The office is very glamorous and has amazing views”, particularity from the sprawling rooftop terrace, one insider explains. “The location of the NRF office in the City (overlooking Tower Bridge) is incredible”, another tells us. “Wouldn’t swap it for any others!” Rookies also praise the recently renovated office floors which boast “very modern” interiors.
Rookies spend a fair chunk of their time at time at 3 More London Riverside, according to our findings, although an average leave the office time of before 8pm is not bad for a firm of Norton Rose Fulbright’s class. Hours can fluctuate from department to department, with one respondent offering up this personal experience: “I’ve had weeks in a banking team where I haven’t finished before midnight for four days straight, but on the other hand I’ve had months where I’ve left the office between 5:30pm and 7pm. Fee earners also respect your weekends and rarely ask you to work over them, which distinguishes the firm from some others — notably the American ones).” Another adds: “Definitely not 9-5 but working at weekends is very rare (unless you decide to do it to make say a Monday easier) and generally people are able to slow down after 7:30pm.”
Perks include private healthcare, a “reasonably priced” canteen and discounted gym membership, as well as an “in-house music room” where juniors can take music lessons. 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.