The Legal Cheek View
Boston headquartered Ropes & Gray has been expanding in the UK in recent years, and is now offering six training contracts annually in its London office. Like other American outfits, the firm’s pitch revolves around big money and high quality of work (in return for lots of responsibility and long hours).
A junior associate who has recently moved to Ropes & Gray from a silver circle firm provides an interesting insight into the contrast: “I have gone from ancillary docs and due diligence (DD) to first cuts of articles, Investment Agreements and SPAs (and still quite a bit of DD).”
The firm is still building its training infrastructure, with a reliance for now on its largely very approachable partners assisting trainees on the job. “I can walk into the office of any partner with any (law-related/client-related or market-related, obviously) question,” one tells us. Another reports: “People give me work and I do the work. I consider the fact that they don't ask me to re-do it as my feedback that I did it well.”
Opinions vary about the work/life balance. One junior lawyer we heard from told is that “the US firm thing is a myth” and they were working less hours that at the English City firm where they’d trained. However, another maintained that “I am constantly getting slammed with work”. According to the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2017-18 figures, Ropes & Gray has some of the longer working hours, with an average arrive in the office time of 8:55am and an average leave the office time of 8:42pm. But what do you expect for £115k NQ pay?
Happily, the office itself is very nice. It’s located on Ludgate Hill at the Fleet Street edge of the City in a brand new building. According to one of our spies: “When lawyers from magic circle law firms recently came over for a closing, they could not stop commenting on how nice everything is.” However, there is no canteen. A £25 Deliveroo allowance makes up for this.
Other Ropes & Gray attractions include the unusually high 30 days of holiday allowance and decent international secondment opportunities. About a quarter of rookies do one, with Hong Kong and New York popular destinations.
Financially, the firm is in a strong position, with revenue of $1,39 billion this year, and profit per equity partner standing at $2.015 million (£1.48 million). Although it lost several partners to US rival Kirkland & Ellis this year, Ropes & Gray is expected to continue investing in London as the firm looks to build its presence in the UK.