White & Case’s financial results for 2022/23 are somewhat muted in comparison to its record-breaking 2021 and super-strong performance in 2020. Global revenues shrunk 2% to $2.83 billion (£2.2 billion) and profit per equity partner (PEP) fell to $2.8 million (£2.2 million) from $3.5 million (£2.87 million) in the previous year — figures in excess of Magic Circle levels despite the dip.
In London, where the firm boasts 400 lawyers and the third-highest revenue of any US outfit, turnover rose by 10% to £380.7 million. This again follows strong rises in the previous two years of 12% and 18% respectively.
The firm also recently elected its first female chair: Heather McDevitt, a litigation partner in the outfit’s New York HQ. She took over from longstanding chief Hugh Verrier, who helped double the outfit’s revenues during his 16-year tenure at the top.
White & Case continues to work on some of the world’s biggest deals. This includes advising long-time client Newmont Corporation on its acquisition of Newcrest (the largest acquisition in the gold mining industry with an enterprise value of £15 billion), and working with Goldman Sachs on a “landmark” buy now, pay later securitisation in Saudi Arabia.
Rookies tell us the work on offer is “very interesting and highly stimulating” with “some administrative and process tasks” that are simply unavoidable at the junior end of a transaction. Newbies in their first seat may find themselves drafting content that goes straight to the client, one source tells us, and if you can demonstrate you are capable and hard-working, “associates and partners will give you substantive and rewarding work”.
Another source describes the work as a “diverse mix of public and private work (and some capital markets)”, which comes with a “high degree of autonomy”. This, they say, is “great for those who like to dive in and take ownership”.
One TC veteran recalls their experience as this: “There are times where trainees can draft legal submissions and cross-examination schedules, as well as lead client correspondence and generally run workstreams independently without asking for associates’ permission/sign-off. At other times, trainees are stuck doing administrative support work, or the duller side of cite-checking/proof-reading and signature pages.”
The training itself comes highly rated and is “excellent and generally very thorough” across most seats. The professional skills training receives special praise from one source, as do the regular “lunch and learn” sessions. We are told informal feedback is provided on a consistent basis, as well as formal feedback mid-seat and end-of-seat. The level of support can sometimes vary between seats, according to one insider, with disputes, M&A and private equity offering “lots of training sessions” whereas employment, for example, apparently provides only a few.
White & Case, which competes with the Magic Circle, offers around 50 training contracts annually at a neat salary range starting at £56,000 for trainees and £150,000 once newly qualified. For that, you are expected to put in the hours and then some. While one insider bluntly describes their work/life balance as “non-existent”, another offers this more positive appraisal: “Varies depending on the team, but generally a good work/life balance, with teams letting you know in advance when work will have to be done over the weekend or late into the evening.” Another junior explains that while the hours can be long, they have “absolute flexibility” and “haven’t had to work very many weekends or had to cancel plans”.
The office is currently being refurbished and expanded, but already has “excellent client suites”. The firm’s in-house eatery, Broad St Kitchen, or BSK for short, gains special praise for its “high-end hospitality vibe” and top-notch grub (more on that later). One downside of W&C’s digs is the shortage of windows, which means “natural lighting gets worse the lower the floor”.
On the plus side, you will be spending your days with supportive, “super-friendly” colleagues. “Very close” trainee intakes and “people are always around to chat and provide support”, one respondent tells us. There are also plenty of drinks and social events that keep junior bonds solid. Further up the ladder, supervisors and partners are said to be “very friendly”, while those at the very senior levels are “approachable and want you to learn and do well”. Another source praises the open-door policy and partners who “are more than happy to discuss aspects of a transaction to allow you to better understand the big picture of the matter”. We are told levels of approachability can vary between departments — but overall is very good.
One major pull factor is the firm’s huge international network, with 44 offices in 30 countries. All rookies are given the opportunity of doing a secondment, usually in their fourth seat, with some great destinations available. Over the past few years, London trainees have spent time in, among other places, Stockholm, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, Paris, Madrid and Singapore. Recent client secondments include Blackstone Credit and Macquarie Asset Management.
The firm provides a generous annual working from home allowance which enables juniors to buy “the right technology for a good working from home set up”. It also offers flexible working options with employees expected to spend a minimum three days in the office each week.
Perks are an annual £500 wellbeing allowance that can be used for gym membership, beauty treatments and suchlike, free meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner!) at the “incredible” canteen, taxis home and Deliveroo after a certain time, volunteering options, pension, health check and dental treatment. For cricket fans, the firm’s private box at Lords is sure to bowl you over.