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Weil Gotshal & Manges' Jillian Singh dispels some of the myths surrounding US law firm training contracts
A student told me recently that he was being discouraged from applying to US firms because they are only satellite offices, theyll work you much harder and they wont train you. Having worked in graduate recruitment at both a leading UK firm and at an established US firm in London, I was delighted to have the opportunity to respond.
Do not underestimate the larger, well-established US law firms that have been in London for a number of years they are serious players with well-staffed and well-structured London offices. They are here to stay. And their client base agrees, with a range of domestic and international clients.
The larger US firms have all the prestige of the major UK firms, but their London offices are intimate enough for you to get noticed. Trainees at US firms regularly have a wide-ranging role on cross-border matters, liaising with or traveling to offices in Europe, the US and Asia. As a trainee in a US firm, you have the opportunity to work on headline-making deals alongside senior partners, unlike trainees at many UK firms who can spend a lot of time in data rooms without the same opportunity to work directly with partners. You will not work any harder than your friends at UK firms, but you will have the opportunity to do more interesting work and to constantly develop your legal knowledge and skills.
Learning at US firms is designed to get you on your feet and practising law quickly, encouraging and enabling you to take ownership of your career. As you would expect, the training programmes are structured in accordance with Law Society requirements and include regular, practical, interactive sessions that take the form of seminars, workshops, associate programmes, lunches and away-days.
Trainee supervisors help trainees to develop their legal skills and commercial judgement on the job. All trainees have a senior associate or partner as their supervisor who conducts appraisals and provides regular feedback. Seat rotations are generally every six months and trainees usually share an office with their supervisor.
It is also worth bearing in mind that most US firms offer their trainees the opportunity of secondments to their US offices. You can get to see the international reach of the practice first-hand and get to know colleagues with whom you may work in the future.
Training at a US law firm is not for everyone. But if youre bright, enthusiastic, ambitious and eager to work on exciting deals, then its definitely worth considering.