Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker LLP was founded in 1951 in Los Angeles. It opened the doors to its London office in 1997 and has been growing ever since. The rebrand to Paul Hastings came in 2011.
The US is the firm’s main jurisdiction, with more than 80% of its 271 partners based there. It only has 16 partners in the UK. However, the London office is growing quickly, having doubled in both revenue and size over five years.
In 2018-19, London revenue grew 14% (not quite as high as the previous year’s 25%) but still more than the firm’s global revenue increase of 9% (4% the previous year) from $1.12 billion to $1.22 billion (£1.01 billion). Global PEP rose 12% from $2.9m to $3.25 million (£2.7 million).
Paul Hastings has no qualms about hiring partners from its competitors in the City, recently brining in a partner from Shearman & Sterling and three partners from Hogan Lovells in July in order to grow its transatlantic private equity team. The firm has a strong focus on M&A and private equity in London, with clients including Oakley Capital and Intel Corp.
The firm is currently split “across two buildings which is not great for morale and culture” but will be moving its base to fancy new premises on the higher floors of 100 Bishopsgate, which is where Freshfields also plans to relocate to. The new digs will also hopefully have a canteen as currently the firm is without one.
However, this is made up by the perks. “They provide £75 a month to go towards a work phone”. One trainee pointed out that “most contracts cost less than that” and the firm is “happy for you to pocket the difference”. Alongside this, a subsidised gym membership and private health insurance were “pretty standard” perks that most big firms tend to offer.
The firm does pay for your taxi home if you work until after 9pm and your dinner after 8pm. Trainees are unlikely to spend their time browsing Deliveroo, as they are worked hard. One trainee reported that their training contract mostly consisted of “long hours, little sleep” and found themselves “burning the 2am oil”. This means you have to “assume you cannot make plans Monday to Thursday (and some unlucky Fridays)”. Perhaps this is what you would expect from a US firm which only offers eight training contracts a year and pays a top-end salary.
“Some teams have more relaxed hours and deadlines where you have more control over your time” which are usually the “advisory teams” but ultimately it “depends on which partner you get”.
As for the training, there is a hands-off approach. As a trainee, “you learn on the job and through your supervisor”. There is “very little targeted training” but “leveraged finance and corporate” do provide training. There are “very rare training sessions taken by senior associates from other practice groups”.
The quality of work is high. Trainees are given “lots of responsibility and are encouraged and taught early on how to manage deals”. One trainee described this as “so stimulating” and another was proud of working on “deals with top tier clients, especially fund managers and financial institutions where clients want to try complex new transactions or create new structures”.
Culture at US firms often gets a bad name, but trainees were happy that at Paul Hastings “it’s not overly competitive” as “the firm hires friendly people so no-one will screw you over to get ahead”. However, a rookie did admit that “at the end of the day, it is a US firm and there are limited places on qualification so there can be fierce competition”.
The trainee cohort can be “a mixed bag” with some people getting “stuck in” to “help you out when you are drowning in work” but “others couldn’t care less”.
As for the partners, “the firm tries not to be hierarchical” but it “depends on the supervisor and which team you are in”. Most partners are “extremely approachable” and “senior associates will take the time to help you.” The approachability will “change from group to group”.
Despite the heavy workload, “HR try and organise events” but because “everyone is always so busy” and there “is only a small cohort of trainees, even a few missing makes it feels sparse”. There is “not much of a go out for drinks culture” but “monthly drinks are organised” which can be “very hit and miss”.
There were no reports of international secondments apart from “an-all expenses paid trip to Birmingham to a luxurious 5 star Travelodge” but client secondments were possible, with trainees spending time “at a private equity fund manager”.
The reports on tech were that it was “not bad but there could be many improvements”. One trainee boasted of the firm’s flashy technology, reporting that “we have computers”.