This Anglo-American heavyweight will turn you into a fine litigator and corporate lawyer – it will also offer something a bit different via its pro bono and citizenship work.
Hogan Knows Best
When City stalwart Lovells and American Hogan & Hartson merged back in 2010, a global megafirm was born. The firm sits in eighth position in the Chambers Global Top 30 for the most formidable global firms, and things have gone well lately, with its City revenue climbing by £20 million and its global turnover by 6% to $1.9 billion. The firm is known for its litigation, corporate and finance practices but it gets high recognition for more niche departments in Chambers UK including IP, big-ticket real estate and pensions. Trainees we interviewed were “drawn to the firm’s down-to-earth reputation and its commitment to citizenship and pro bono. I wanted to be somewhere at the top of its game internationally but with more of a work/life balance.” So, does the experience live up to expectations? “Absolutely, especially when it comes to pro bono and its work on diversity. It’s not just window dressing; it’s making a meaningful difference.”
Once again HL’s litigation team has received high praise from Chambers UK and recognition in the guide's ‘elite’ category. It has extensive experience in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court and much of the work is international. One such case involved Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk and a dispute over ownership and profits from an iron ore mining company called KZ, worth over $2 billion. Collaborating with its Dubai office, the team also secured a victory for Mumtalakat, the Bahraini sovereign wealth fund and part owner of Formula 1 brand McLaren, in resisting an injunction sought by CEO Ron Dennis to prevent him being placed on gardening leave. The firm also receives commendation for its high-end corporate/M&A work, competition law, banking litigation, real estate, data protection, and scores of other practices across commercial and public law.
The firm’s large trainee intake is split into two intakes in February and August each year, and seat preferences are put forward three months before newbies join. “HR tries really hard to accommodate everyone and be as flexible as possible,” we learned. “I know of people who have been able to switch seats when spaces have become available.” As with many firms, it was felt that second-years are given priority when allocating seats. In more niche areas there is naturally more competition, whereas seats like finance and corporate present a variety of roles within them. It's worth noting that all trainees do an accelerated six-and-a-half month LPC at BPP prior to starting their training contract.
The litigation team includes real estate, pensions, commercial and corporate work. It’s advised 50 of the Fortune 100, 34 of the FTSE 100 and 17 of the DAX 30 – we’re talking names like Vodafone and Ford. A massive international case for the team was advising BTA bank on a claim against its former chairman alleging that he effectively stole over $6 billion from the bank. The jurisdictions involved included Kazakhstan, Russia, BVI, Luxembourg and Switzerland. “Because much of the work is so high-stakes there’s less trainee responsibility than in a seat like pensions, for example.” However, trainees said the cases themselves are “fascinating,” adding: “I helped to draft a witness statement and was able to see it from start to finish. You’re not treated with kid gloves, and if you show interest you’ll still get good quality work.” Other typical tasks include drafting correspondence such as letters and emails, attending meetings and taking witness statements, taking bundles to courts, reviewing documents and cross-checking references.
“You’re not treated with kid gloves.”
The corporate team at Hogan Lovells covers areas like M&A, private equity, regulatory and pensions. It advises on high-end, cross-border and complex transactions both in London and globally – this is where the true value of that transatlantic merger kicks in. In two years the team managed to rack up an aggregate of a cool $320 billion in public and private transactions, with clients including News Corp, Prudential and AXA. The team recently advised SABMiller on its $107 billion sale to Anheuser-Busch, the brewers behind Budweiser beer. The new entity now has a grip on 27% of all beer sales worldwide. The team also helped British American Tobacco in its acquisition of Ten Motives, a manufacturer of e-cigarettes and vaping products. “On corporate you get a wide range of private, public and equity capital markets,” said one trainee. They continued: “I developed rapidly in terms of what I was involved in. My supervisor was always very keen to involve me in as much as possible. As I progressed I was increasingly involved in corporate documentation.”
Trainees praised the variety of work available in corporate, saying: “No two transactions are ever the same which keeps it interesting.” Most of our insiders said due diligence formed a substantial part of their workload, as well as drafting things like pricing clauses, service contracts and SPAs (sales and purchase agreements). Another added: “I was in charge of agendas for weekly meetings as well as the usual drafting, and I got to use my litigation experience for researching and writing blog posts.”
In the pensions department, trainees told us: “It’s research-heavy and very technical. I was drafting scheme rules, making amendments, working on pension deeds and drafting letters.” They added: “It was great to do some digging into new rules and regulations, and I got the most client contact in pensions out of all my seats. I was taken along to trustee board meetings and went to court a few times.”
"They took the time to teach me properly and I never felt out of my depth."
Under the umbrella of finance, trainees can do seats in capital markets, banking, restructuring and insolvency, project finance or asset finance. The projects team recently advised on the construction of a £2 billion development in King's Cross working with lettings for Google and Universal Music. Part of the project involved a cooling pod to help improve energy efficiency. Meanwhile in restructuring and insolvency at the time of our research, the team was busy advising the administrators of Lehman Brothers on the high-profile Waterfall III litigation. “To start with it was a steep learning curve,” said one finance trainee. “Deadlines are incredibly short and you usually have two or three weeks to turn it around.” Another added: “I made phone calls to clients directly, and chasing contacts is entirely your responsibility. The same goes for post-completion work, which is all trainee-led.”
Once again there were multiple jurisdictions involved in finance: “I was involved with contacts in Jersey, BVI and The Cayman Islands.” The asset finance team works with high-value assets in sectors like aviation and super yachts: “I was drafting security agreements, loan agreements, collecting conditions precedents, drafting transaction documents and arranging electronic files.” Insiders added: “Supervision was fantastic. They took the time to teach me properly and I never felt out of my depth.” Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we were told: “On Wednesdays we have cake.”
Secondments are available to clients in the UK and offices abroad, and trainees state their interest during the ‘seat fair’ which takes place halfway through the first seat. Current overseas options include Hong Kong, Dubai, Paris, Brussels, New York, Washington DC, Singapore and Johannesburg. On client secondments, trainees said: “It’s challenging working in-house and you get a lot more exposure, but you’re really well looked after.”
Trainees were under no illusion that “the hours here can be as bad as at any other City firm, although people are really grateful for the work you put in.” Some trainees said that they finished consistently at around 7.30pm, while others said that in departments like finance there were occasionally 3 or 4am finishes. “Nobody wants trainees staying all night; it’s usually around completions where they don’t have a choice. At other firms you get the impression that higher-ups see it as a rite of passage but you don’t get that here.” The firm has its own sleeping pods that trainees can book if it’s too late to go home, which are “like mini hotel rooms.” Finally, trainees told us: “There isn’t a face-time culture here, and generally people are very considerate and flexible.”
"Even the partners were boogieing along!"
“The laid-back culture here really sets Hogan Lovells apart,” said one trainee. “You forget you’re working in a heavyweight law firm. In my department we do things like Easter egg hunts and thirsty Thursdays; it’s those little gestures that make you feel appreciated.” Once again trainees emphasised the firm’s ethos and commitment to pro bono: “I’ve been working on a pro bono matter relating to injury compensations and I’ve done some advocacy as part of that.” Each trainee is required to do 25 hours of citizenship work per year (basically volunteering), giving plenty of opportunity to get involved in one of the firm's many initiatives. There’s also an event called 'Legally Ballroom', where people throughout the firm learn to dance and finally perform in a soiree complete with a three-course meal, all in the name of charity. There are plenty of social events from department to department including Christmas parties, as well as a firm-wide summer party every year. The latest was a Cuban themed bash in Old Billingsgate: “It was in an old warehouse with a buffet and a bar; even the partners were boogieing along!”
Back in the office, trainees share a room with their supervisor (usually a senior associate): “The desks are arranged so you’re facing each other, which makes it easier to ask questions.” The offices themselves are spread over three buildings in Holborn, the largest of which is Atlantic House. Facilities include a highly popular canteen and coffee shop, a gym and an on-site GP. “I realised I was going to spend a lot of my time here so it was important to be somewhere comfortable with good facilities.” Trainees also told us: “Every practice area has its own set of training. It addresses points you’ll need in practice and teaches you things you wouldn’t have learnt on your LPC.” In addition: “There are voluntary sessions on things like IT and lots of non-legal and extra-curricular seminars available.” First-seaters can also get involved in Hogan's 'BaSE' programme, which partners trainees up with their own social enterprise client to advise and develop.
When qualification looms, HR sends out a list of jobs available each year and trainees rank and submit their preferences. The system got a mixed response from those we spoke to: some liked that it was “very transparent”; others found it a little too transparent, questioning the fact that departments can see their rankings and may be reluctant to hire those who didn’t pick them as their first choice, which some found “stressful.” In 2017 the firm retained 47 of 59 qualifiers.
“You get a lot of exposure to international offices within the firm, rather than just knowing they’re out there.”
How to get a Hogan Lovells training contract
Training contract deadline (2020): 31 January 2018 (non-law); 30 June 2018 (law)
Law fairs and events
The firm attends up to 30 law fairs and 150 on-campus events each year. It also hosts approximately 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. These initiatives include skills sessions, workshops, work experience programmes, insight days and office visits for students from Year 9 up to university level.
Additionally, there's an annual open day for mature students, supported by the Birkbeck School of Law, plus four 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.
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.
- Partners 155 (London)
- Total trainees 120
- UK offices London
- Overseas offices 45
- Graduate recruiter: Jen Baird, [email protected] hoganlovells.com
- Training partner: David Moss
- Application criteria
- Training contracts pa: 60
- Applications pa: 4,500
- Minimum required degree grade: 2:1 (or equivalent) in any discipline
- Minimum UCAS points or A levels: AAA
- Vacation scheme places pa: 65
- Dates and deadlines
- Training contract applications open: 1 October 2017
- Training contract deadline non-law students andraduates: 31 January 2018
- Training contract deadline non-law students and graduates: 30 June 2018
- Vacation scheme applications open: 1 October 2017
- Vacation scheme 2018 deadline: 31 October 2017 (winter); 7 January 2018 (spring and summer)
- Open day deadline: 25 February 2018
- Salary and benefits
- First-year salary: £44,000
- Second-year salary: £49,000
- Post-qualification salary: £75,000
- Holiday entitlement: 25 Days
- LPC fees: Yes
- GDL fees: Yes
- Maintenance grant pa: £8,000 in London and £7,000 outside London. Accelerated LPC grants are £7,000.
- International and regional
- Offices with training contracts: London
- Overseas seats: Brussels, Dubai, Hong Kong, Johannesburg,New York, Paris, Singapore, Washington DC Client secondments BNP Paribas, Barclays, British American Tobacco, Citibank, Exxon Mobil, Ford Credit Europe, MSD, Prudential, Standard Chartered Bank
Main areas of work
Open days and first-year opportunities
University law careers fairs 2017