Hogan Lovells - True Picture

The 'special relationship' endures at this Anglo-American giant.

Hogan loves all

'Tomato' or 'To-may-to'? 'Aluminium' or 'Aluminum'? 'Pavement' or 'Sidewalk'? – Brits and Americans don't always agree; but Hogan Lovells is a lasting testament to the strong bond that can exist between the two anglophone cousins. The product of a 2010 merger between tomato-munching Brits Lovells and sidewalk-strolling Yanks Hogan & Hartson, in recent years Hogan Lovells has gone from strength to strength, and in 2015 global revenue grew for a third successive year to $1.82 billion. However, Hogan's purse strings aren't the only things concealing shiny metals – bear with us here – for the firm has a heart of gold too... Pro bono is a cornerstone of the firm's American operation and the good vibes emanate across the Atlantic too: “You're always encouraged to get involved in as much as possible and they recently implemented a 25 hours-a-year requirement. They've got a pro bono team made up of three or four full-time lawyers and they generally send an email with opportunities once a week.”

The firm's lawyers have always been legendary litigators, and in London their contentious work takes up nearly a third of their total business. The practice earns a Chambers UK ranking in the 'elite' litigation category, plus near-top marks for its contentious regulatory, civil fraud, and pensions litigation work (among several other practices). In 2015, the firm had more reported cases in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court than any of its peers. One such case was its work acting for Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk in proceedings against two former business partners concerning ownership of the iron ore mining company NZ and over $1 billion worth of shares. This is the highest-value commercial litigation dispute to ever go before the High Court. Like litigation, Hogan's corporate department constitutes around a third of the firm's incoming work. A glance at Chambers UK will reveal the sheer breadth of the firm's abilities, with top rankings spanning commercial and public law.

Each year the firm takes about 60 trainees via two intakes (the first in February, and the second in August) –“60 is a big intake so I think it makes it more manageable.” Trainees have a plethora of seats to choose from – we counted 18 – but were a little irked by the allocation process. “I think it's one of the things I'm not a massive fan of. Before you join you pick your first seat, you fill in a form and put down a few options. Then, midway through your first seat, you have a 'seat fair', which is a bit like a careers fair – it's pretty awkward. Each department has its own stall and everyone goes around trying to impress people but not really knowing what to say.” After that, you have to submit your seat preferences for the rest of the training contract “but there's very little flexibility – there's an avenue for trying to get them changed but obviously the idea is that you don't do that.”

Hulk Hogan


The litigation department handles all kinds of contentious work – from employment and construction disputes to pensions and fraud cases. Some seats here straddle different areas – one, for example, covers fraud, investigations, insolvency and corporate litigation. The firm regularly attracts the most high-profile international work and advises 50 of the Fortune 100 and 34 of the FTSE 100 companies, including household names like Vodafone, Shell and Ford. A perfect example of the international arbitration team's bread and butter is its work for the Slovak government against financial services company Achmea, regarding reformation of the country's public health care system in a case worth €150 million. While the matters are huge and multi-jurisdictional, “with really high values at stake, clients don't always want trainees getting involved. So trainees do a lot more administrative prep work than attending hearings.” Nonetheless, the fact remains that “maintaining files and bundles isn't easy, as there's a lot to keep on top of. And if you can prove yourself on those sorts of tasks, the odd drafting opportunity does usually crop up.”

Corporate trainees are assigned to subgroups like M&A, private equity, regulatory and pensions. Like their litigious cousins, the team's roster reads like a list of the world's most famous companies, with recent work having been done for the likes of Mitsubishi and Prudential. In 2016, they advised brewer SABMiller on its frothy $107 billion sale to beverage behemoths Anheuser-Busch. When completed, the deal will be the largest UK acquisition in history and is the latest in a series of M&A transactions on which Hogan have advised SABMiller. In 2015 they performed the same role as the company acquired London's crafty Meantime Brewery in a deal worth relatively small beer. Again, given the magnitude of these transactions, “as a trainee you tend to get smaller tasks: on most of the deals there are a lot of ancillary documents that need to be entered into.” Although similarly, “there are opportunities to take responsibility for parts of bigger documents, if you prove yourself in the more menial tasks and swallow your pride; associates and partners recognise that.”

"They increase your salary, get your visa, book your flights and sort you out with a lovely apartment.”

The tax team “primarily focuses on the commercial ramifications of UK and EU legislation on multinational corporations” – so you can imagine they'll have their work cut out in the coming months/years/centuries... This means they handle the tax aspects of cross-border mergers and joint ventures, as well as advising on country-specific legislation like the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). They're a versatile bunch, but the majority of their work is for the finance teams –"they're asked to provide tax legal opinions and do securitisation work.” They also have a burgeoning real estate practice and a strong VAT arm. Trainees told us: “There's a lot of research to be done” in a tax seat, and also reported bundling, reviewing documents, drafting instructions to counsel, and negotiating with HMRC on behalf of companies with direct tax complaints. “Tax is a pretty technical and complicated area of law, but after six months of getting stuck in, I felt like my comprehension had improved greatly,” said one. And there's no messing about to be had here either, with the team recently advising GE in connection with its agreement to sell its $23 billion global real estate equity and debt portfolio business to Blackstone Group and Wells Fargo.

PPP with PP


Trainees can undertake finance seats in banking, project finance, capital markets, restructuring and insolvency, or asset finance. The projects team does “lots of big public/private partnership (PPP) deals” with energy companies like EDF and state institutions like the UK Department for Transport. They recently advised the City of Belgrade on its ongoing waste-to-energy PPP project – a long-term project for the treatment and disposal of municipal waste and construction and demolition waste in Serbia. This is a perfect example of the team's increased focus on the renewables sector; a focus that also saw them advise Infracapital as the investor on the financing of the £1 billion Swansea tidal lagoon power project. The project aims to harness the power of the Severn Estuary – which holds the second largest tidal range in the world – and help the UK transition to a low carbon future. Finance typically sees trainees draft board minutes and legal opinions and keep conditions precedent lists. “It can be quite a demanding seat, and there's a lot of international work, so you can expect some extended periods of late nights.” Throughout the finance seats trainees “do a lot of day-to-day management of files, drafting board minutes and legal opinions and keeping conditions precedent lists.”

“When you were working those hours, people were particularly appreciative."

If you want to go abroad during your training contract you have to stake your claim for a place on the boat at the aforementioned 'seat fair'. Though “you don't decide where you're going then – it's just a place-holder.” Current overseas options include Hong Kong, Dubai, Paris, Brussels, New York, Washington DC, Singapore and Johannesburg (the first three locations offer two seats each). About a quarter of the way through your second seat you fill out a secondment application form in which you specify a practice rather than a location. Once you're abroad, “the firm does a great job of helping with the transition – it increases your salary, gets you your visa, books your flights and sorts you out with a lovely apartment.”

Nuffield compares


Sources described a working environment in which “people say 'thank you' a lot – I know it sounds silly but it does make a real difference when you've put the time in on something.” It's probably beneficial to keep spirits high since there is no shying away from the fact that the hours at Hogan can be punishing. Corporate is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most taxing seat – not tax – and it is not rare for trainees to be “working seven days a week until late into the night... which sometimes meant 1 or 2am.” However, the other seats got more favourable reviews, with finance and litigation busy in the run-up to a trial or closing but apart from that, trainees worked “pretty consistently 8.30 till about 6 or 7.”

It would be remiss for us not to mention at this point that none of our sources were under any illusions about these kinds of hours and accepted they were “part and parcel of a training contract at a big City firm.” Moreover, they mostly found that “when you were working those hours, people were particularly appreciative. Senior partners are always there with you and I got given a couple of days in lieu as a result.” Readers should themselves be under no illusions about the type of people the firm hires: “You obviously have to be very hard-working and committed to work here.”

"We drank loads of Fosters and played with an inflatable kangaroo”

Efforts are rewarded with a rich social life. Every year the firm throws a summer party extravaganza – “this year it was at the Honourable Artillery Company in the heart of the City. It was 70s-themed which meant a lot of flares and peace signs, and there was a huge sit-down meal, dodgems and a ferris wheel.” There are further opportunities to dress up on 'Thirsty Thursdays', which take place every month in the office and involve drinks and general tomfoolery; they also “tend to have silly themes. For example, last week it was 'Australian-themed' so we drank loads of Fosters and played with an inflatable kangaroo” – strewth. And, about that office: Hogan HQ houses a gym that all employees get free membership to and, since it's operated by Nuffield, they can get discounted membership to all other Nuffield gyms. There's also a “very popular” canteen, which is subsidised, serves three meals a day, and also where it's particularly hard to get a seat on 'roast Wednesdays' and 'fish ’n' chips Fridays'.

Here at the Student Guide we often categorise a firm's qualification processes as either 'formal' or 'informal', without acknowledging that they can be both. And really this ignores the fact that the climax of a training contract is probably going to be stressful no matter what. Hogan have recognised that –“I think it's something the firm has made an effort to improve on” – but perhaps have ended up overcomplicating it. About six weeks into your final seat, you have a presentation from HR and the training partner, and they set out the process and explain what should go into your decision-making. The jobs list is then distributed and you have one week to submit your final choices. You can apply for a number of vacancies and rank them by preference. Then there's a three-week window in which departments can choose people for interviews, which can be “quite technical; they drill down on information: 'Why this firm?' 'Why this practice?' Even though you've sat in the seat for six months – it seemed a little excessive.” Jobs are then announced; in 2016 Hogan kept on 50 of 59 qualifiers.

Future Hogan Lovells trainees do an accelerated six-and-a-half month LPC at BPP.

How to get a Hogan Lovells training contract


Vacation scheme deadline (2016/17): 30 October 2016 (winter); 6 January 2017 (spring and summer)

Training contract deadline (2019): 31 January 2017 (non-law); 30 June 2017 (law)

Law fairs and events  

The firm attends around 28 law fairs each year, but also hosts around 150 on-campus events and 50 internal events. Some of the latter are open to students from school to university age, as part of Hogan Lovells' broader social mobility initiative.

Additionally, there's an annual open day for mature students, supported by the Birkbeck School of Law, plus three open days for first-year law and non-law students. To apply for an open day – or any of Hogan Lovells' vacation schemes or training contract opportunities – candidates complete an online application form, and undergo a critical thinking test and telephone interview.


Applications for Hogan Lovells' training contracts and vacation schemes are considered on a rolling basis during the application period (rather than after the deadline), so we suggest applying early to increase your chances of landing a spot.

The firm receives around 1,800 training contract applications each year. There's space for up to 60 trainees, spread across two intakes (August and February).

Hogan Lovells' recruitment team recently revised the initial application form (which is used for both vac scheme and training contract applicants) – it's now shorter and contains questions tailored specifically to the firm. Make sure you've done your research on Hogan Lovells' practices, clients, and recent work; a scatter-gun approach won't make the cut. Advice from the firm on how to fill out the form can be found here.

Hogan Lovells' recruitment team recently revised the initial application form (which is used for both vac scheme and training contract applicants) – it's now shorter and contains questions tailored specifically to the firm. Make sure you've done your research on Hogan Lovells' practices, clients, and recent work; a scatter-gun approach won't make the cut. Advice from the firm on how to fill out the form can be found here.

Assessment day  

Both vac scheme and training contract applicants who pass the telephone interview are invited to attend an assessment day. This kicks off with another critical thinking test. You can get some practice by having a crack at this example online.

The day also includes a partner-led introduction to the firm, lunch with the current trainees and a guided tour of the office. These informalities are accompanied by two interviews: a situational interview with an associate and a member of graduate recruitment, and one with two partners. Those attending an assessment day for a training contract also complete a group exercise.

As for the other interview, trainees described it as “not stuffy,” with one telling us “the interviewers were quite interested in the things I’d done outside academia.”

Law firm mergers: why do they matter? 

Hogan Lovells is the result of a major merger between a US and UK firm in 2010. Click here to read more about why law firm mergers happen and what that matters to you

Hogan Lovells

Atlantic House,
Holborn Viaduct,
Website www.hoganlovells.com

  • Partners: 800+
  • Total trainees: 120
  • Contact Jen Green, graduate.recruitment@ hoganlovells.com
  • Selection procedure Online application form Critical thinking test Telephone interview Assessment Centre
  • Method of Application Apply online
  • Closing Date for 2019  
  • Non-law: 31 January 2017
  • Law: 30 June 2017
  • Vacancies 60 training contract places
  • Trainee starting salary£43,000
  • Post Qualification salary £70,000
  • Offices Alicante, Amsterdam, Baltimore, Beijing, Brussels, Budapest, Caracas, Colorado Springs, Denver, Dubai, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Houston, Jeddah, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Luxembourg, Madrid, Mexico City, Miami, Milan, Minneapolis, Monterrey, Moscow, Munich, New York, Northern Virginia, Paris, Perth, Philadelphia, Riyadh, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, São Paulo, Shanghai, Silicon Valley, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Ulaanbaatar, Warsaw and Zagreb.

Firm profile

A practical, straight-talking approach to law. Open, honest and deep relationships with prestigious clients. Training that keeps on evolving. A global community where everyone is on the same wavelength – but always encouraged to be themselves. This is the dynamic that sets Hogan Lovells apart. Everyone pushes themselves to find smarter, bolder solutions; there is a collective desire to share knowledge and work collaboratively; and as a global firm, this applies no matter where we operate. With 2,500 lawyers working in over 45 offices across 26 countries, the close-knit culture that exists between these offices is part of our everyday lives. And now, you can experience this first-hand.

Main areas of work

The quality of our people. The strength of our global network. The boldness of our ambition. These are all reasons why we are able to attract high profile, multinational clients. It’s our exceptional breadth of practice areas that really makes us stand out. For you, this means we have a variety of potential disciplines to explore across Corporate, Finance, Government Regulatory, Intellectual Property and Litigation, Arbitration & Employment. It’s a distinctive approach, and one that helps us give clients what they want even before they realise they want it.

Vacation schemes and insight events Before joining an organisation, one of the best things you can do is get to know them first. After all, you’ll be spending a big chunk of your life at your new firm, so it makes sense to make sure it’s the right one for you. That’s where our first year opportunities come in. First year law students can apply for our vacation scheme, to get a taste of Hogan Lovells. We also run insight events for first year students of any degree discipline. Come along to our offices on any of the three summer dates and enjoy an experience packed with tailored workshops and presentations. You’ll find out everything you need to know and see what life is like at a global law firm. 
If Hogan Lovells is the place for you, you’ll have the opportunity to sign up for one of our vacation schemes. Running from two to three weeks, our schemes are a perfect launch pad for a legal career. And each one is carefully tailored to students at different stages of their career planning. Working alongside partners, associates and trainees, you’ll support client work in our key practice areas. You’ll draft documents, go to meetings, do legal research and, where possible, attend court. It’s hands-on learning that’s reinforced by workshops, discussions, case studies, work shadowing, social events and more. As experience, it’s invaluable.

The training contract

International law evolves constantly. So do our lawyers. So will you. With our two-year training contract, you’ll amass world-class technical skills, gain a holistic view of our firm and learn to master the law. There’s more to our lawyers than legal expertise, you’ll also develop a deep understanding of business and industry too. It starts with stretching work. We’ll give you as much as you can handle – in our experience it’s the best way to learn. Of course we’ll balance that responsibility with help and encouragement from all corners. As well as a comprehensive legal skills training programme, you’ll have regular reviews and guidance from the trainee development team, mentors, colleagues and more. It’s not over when you qualify. Far from it. Your professional and personal growth will be top of the agenda throughout your career. At every stage you’ll be in the driving seat, steering your own progress and tapping into the training you need. Your goal? To develop the capability, mindset and networks to solve the complex challenges our clients’ continue to face. 

Who we are looking for

Our teams tackle some of the most intricate legal and commercial issues that businesses face So we look to recruit smart, collaborative and determined individuals from all kinds of backgrounds and experiences. You will have the ability to adapt to new surroundings, the resilience to deliver complex work to deadlines and the ability to face the unpredictable with confidence. A quick mind is also pivotal, so a strong academic record from GCSE onwards is essential. You should be pushing for a good 2:1 (or equivalent) or above in your university degree. But above all, you’ll have the ability to work effectively with others and build lasting relationships with colleagues and clients alike.

When and how to apply

Our Insight Events will run on three dates between June – July 2017. To attend, you must be in your first year of study at university and have submitted you application by 24 February 2017. As for our vacation schemes, first year law students must apply for our first year vacation scheme by 24 February 2017. Students in their penultimate year onwards must apply by 6 January 2017 to be eligible for our summer and spring vacation schemes. We also have a winter vacation scheme for all final year students and graduates, the closing date for which is 30 October 2016. Applications for our training contracts will be open from 1 October 2016. Law students in their penultimate year of study will need to submit their applications by 30 June 2017 at the latest. If you’re a non-law student or graduate, you should apply for your position before 31 January 2017. Ready to experience our dynamic? Find out more and apply at hoganlovells.com/graduates