Business is booming for Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. In its latest financial results (released in spring 2022), the US outfit followed up last year’s impressive 18% revenue rise in London that had brought in a total of $62.86 million (£45 million) with a staggering 45% jump to $90.9 million (£69 million). Global revenues were also up 14.2% to $1.32 billion (£1 billion) whilst, profit per equity partner (PEP) surged nearly 22% to $3.07 million (£2.33 million), breaking the $3-million mark for the first time.
Headquartered in San Francisco, Orrick divides its focus among three overlapping sectors: technology; energy and infrastructure; and finance. High profile clients include PayPal and Sony. And it’s billion-bucks stuff. Orrick’s London lawyers recently advised Visa on its multi-billion-dollar acquisitions of fintech firms Currencycloud and Tink. They also advised German aerospace company Lilium on its $3.3 billion SPAC merger and represented KPMG on Carillion’s multi-billion-dollar insolvency proceedings.
The firm has also appeared on mega deals across the pond. Orrick’s San Francisco and New York lawyers were involved in the $1.9 billion financing of renewable energy developer Primenergy’s Gemini Project which will see the construction of the largest solar and battery storage site of its kind. Its attorneys in Los Angeles have also advised on a $100 million green revenue bond offering whose proceeds have been used to construct an Oscars Museum which opened last year.
During the six-seat training contract system, rookies can expect training which combines “observation and also lots of actual participation”. Insiders say they enjoy the autonomy in shaping their own training because it “allows us to choose topics which we think will be most useful”. It also helps that there’s some top-notch work for newbies to cut their teeth on: “you can be working on projects that regularly feature in the Financial Times. Otherwise, you can regularly be working with pioneers and leaders in the tech sphere.”
What’s more, with an annual intake of five rookies, “you aren’t left to fight over who gets to do the scanning as can be the case with some larger intakes.” However, we are told “the style of training differs across departments” (apparently “in Corporate you may feel like a paralegal”, whereas in other seats “you are pushed as if you were an NQ”) but “each supervisor is keen for you to learn and help you develop throughout the seat”. Fortunately, the legal tech is “handy” and “advanced” with newbies appreciating ‘Orrick Analytics’ that uses “state-of-the-art technology and probability modelling in document-heavy matters”.
Plus, you are not left completely on your own. This mole reports: “There is a comprehensive on-boarding process at the beginning of the Training Contract. This is then supplemented throughout the training process with seminars and training lectures. Additionally, more senior trainees offer training sessions to complement the more official routes.”
As is to be expected at a US firm, trainees “work hard and long”. Busy spells can be “overwhelming”, according to one rookie, “but supervisors encourage a work/life balance”. While office hours vary depending on department, overall trainees punch-in around 9am (US firms tend to start later) and typically leave around 9pm. And on the subject of hours, Orrick recently unveiled a new policy that allows lawyers to put up to 40 billable hours towards a holiday to ensure they can really “unplug” from corporate life.
Insiders we spoke to confirm that “the firm is making efforts to root out bad working practices”. We are told that “people are appreciative that you have a life outside work” and “departments tend to be understanding and like their teams to take a break if they have the opportunity to do so.” Work from home also “really helps with family life even if working late.” Orrick has provided its lawyers with “everything we need to emulate the office space, as well as supplying anything surplus as requested” along with a “generous budget” too. In short, the firm’s done a “really good job” on WFH.
Orrick’s small intake helps foster a tight-knit community among trainees. “Peers, both from my intake and that of the year above, are great – down to earth and good fun to socialise with. The trainees further along the process have been really helpful in giving us a low-down as to all the systems and helping us navigate the day-to-day,” says one.
There’s also “good camaraderie across the firm” that has avoided any stuffiness that sometimes goes with the territory of being a City firm. More senior lawyers at Orrick are “very approachable — even up to the head of the London office, they emphasise that there is an open-door policy and always there for a chat. We are given a trainee buddy, seat supervisor as well as a trainee mentor who collectively help to guide us through our training contract, from both a work and pastoral perspective.”
This camaraderie is especially seen where trainee and junior associates go out for lunch and drinks together. Although reports do suggest that attendance at pre-planned social gatherings could be higher and more effort could go into planning ad-hoc events.
This approachability is particularly impressive considering that Orrick doesn’t have an open-plan office – a fact that is much cherished by insiders who appreciate “the privacy and comfort of your own office (shared with one or two people)”. Plus we hear the view from the ninth floor of the firm’s “modern” and “very smart” London office is unparalleled. A downside is the lack of an in-house canteen; an upside is the “great location”, meaning employees can benefit from the plentiful restaurants close to St Paul’s Cathedral.
And junior lawyers have plenty of money to spend in said restaurants; Orrick’s newly qualified pay is £130,000. The perks are decent too, with lawyers getting access to an app that includes offers and discount codes, subsidised gym membership and private healthcare.
With 27 offices in ten countries worldwide it’s surprisingly rare for trainees to be seconded abroad. Though one rookie reports spending four days each in Miami and San Francisco, it is more common for trainees to do a client secondment (about one fifth do one) at places like KPMG.