Arnold & Porter - True Picture

Some of the biggest names across pharma, tech and telecoms turn to Arnold & Porter’s London hub for all things life sciences, IP and regulatory.

Arnold & Porter training contract review 2022

The Firm 

“A&P has really interesting work,” one trainee enthusiastically told us, before proclaiming: “I feel I get much more interesting work than anyone I know!” Indeed, DC-born Arnold & Porter’s reputation for specialist areas including IP, life sciences, competition and regulatory matters was a huge draw for the chosen few who got a place on the firm’s training contract. The small intake (of around two trainees a year) was another enticing factor: “As a smaller firm [in London], it’s easy to meet people across practice groups. I kind of know everyone and most people know me too – I like that.” It also reinforced an entrepreneurial and proactive culture which gave trainees the chance to “get involved in so many different cases” and get “lots of responsibility early on.”

“A really wonderful place to work in terms of learning the craft of being a solicitor and learning law.”

Although the London office is smaller, Arnold & Porter is by no means a small firm. Its global operation stretches across 14 locations, with A&P lawyers across the world working for huge names within the firm’s areas of expertise. The firm achieves top-tier rankings in Chambers UK for both regulatory and product liability life sciences work. A particularly relevant example of this expertise is the firm’s recent work with AstraZeneca on agreements to manufacture and purchase the University of Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine. A&P is also recognised in London for its IP, commercial and corporate litigation, competition, and financial crime know-how. For one interviewee, all of these elements together made the firm “a really wonderful place to work in terms of learning the craft of being a solicitor and learning law.”

The Seats 

Given the small trainee intake, seat allocation runs like this: “We speak among ourselves, and things just fall into place,”as one source put it. Naturally, the firm’s business needs also play a role, and trainees are encouraged to speak to the different teams as well as to the training principal. Generally, sources found “we don’t have competition about who is going to get what seat – if two people are pining for the same seat, we just agree between ourselves who will do it first and who will do it second.”Occasionally, client secondments do crop up “if a client needs a trainee.”

"We do a lot of competition damages litigation related to cartels."

The firm has a prominent competition group, where most trainees spend a seat at some point. The team deals with contentious matters, regulatory issues and transactional work in this overarching area, though most sources found most of their work came from the contentious side. On the litigation side, “we do a lot of competition damages litigation related to cartels, where we represent claimants against companies who have been found to have breached competition law.” Occasionally, interviewees were also able to get experience on the defendant side in these cases, which involved “things like settlement negotiation and agreements.” The team often works for big-name pharma companies, and recently advised Pfizer in securing merger control clearance outside the US for the proposed merger of Upjohn (Pfizer’s off-patent branded and generic established medicines business) with pharmaceutical company Mylan. On the contentious side, the team also advised transport company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines on a cartel follow-on litigation. Trainees would often help with bundling; draft weekly reports to go out to clients; gather evidence for trials; conduct expert reports; and draft and review court submissions and applications. “We also get to join all client calls – we’re very much exposed to everything going on.”This included getting to attend court and competition tribunals. On the regulatory side, sources came across a few merger filings as well as working with “pharmaceutical clients who needed regulatory advice about the trading of pharma products within the EU.”

“We also get to join all client calls – we’re very much exposed to everything going on.”

The corporateseat can provide a “diverse experience” that consists of “traditional corporate M&A matters, as well as banking and funds work.”Over the course of this seat, one source recalled working on “the acquisition of a technology company by a large foreign telecoms company,”while another mentioned “working on a large loan agreement for a biotech company that was refinancing to invest into other things.” The team recently advised Cognizant Technology Solutions on its $400 million acquisition of Collaborative Solutions. Elsewhere, the team advised communications and IT company TELUS on its acquisition of Muddy Boots Software. Trainees typically got involved in a hefty amount of due diligence, but also reviewed and drafted amendments to documents. Sources mentioned working on more general commercial agreements too, such as “supply agreements for large pharma companies, which related to the distribution of drugs.” Some interviewees highlighted working on the manufacturing and supply agreements tied to the Covid-19 vaccine. 

Corporate work often overlapped with intellectual property matters too. For example, sources noted that “when there’s a merger, there’s also an IP aspect in terms of how to carry over the intellectual property to the other company and how to license those rights to other users.” Interviewees also dealt with commercial contracts and researched “whether the IP provisions in those contracts were good enough.” The team worked with biotech company Clovis Oncology on the commercialisation and distribution of Rubraca, a cancer treatment. Most trainees here were involved with the transactional side of IP, but the team also deals with contentious IP matters such as patent disputes. One source recalled being “involved in a WIPO [World Intellectual Property Organization] dispute regarding the use of a domain name,”which involved “researching IP laws and drafting all the documentation.”

Trainee Life

Whether the focus was work or more general socialising, sources found Arnold & Porter to be a great place for those “who are proactive and a bit entrepreneurial – those who take initiative and get involved.”Sources especially appreciated that “everyone pulls their weight, no matter what level they’re at,” meaning trainees never felt alone when late night stints were called for – “no one pulls rank; everyone is in it together.” One interviewee also noted that this sense of equality meant they “never felt that my ideas were put down because I was a trainee – it’s very meritocratic.” The firm also hosts more social activities to ensure folks continue feeling involved, and especially did so during lockdown. A recent highlight saw the firm “send round cocktail mixing kits for everyone to do a really fun cocktail mixing class together.”

This general ‘get up and go’ attitude was apparent when it came to the firm’s commitment to pro bonotoo. “There’s basically no limit[on how many pro bono hours you can do]. The pro bono committee sends out weekly (if not bi-weekly) emails saying what matters are coming through, and it’s incredibly varied,”a trainee told us. Every interviewee had been involved in pro bono in some respect – one had worked on “an IP infringement for a charity” while another had “worked on a case in partnership with KIND [Kids in Need of Defense], where the team successfully gained regularisation for a family from Nigeria.” Pro bono work was also viewed as a good opportunity for trainees to “work with partners and teams we wouldn’t usually be in touch with,” which many sources enjoyed. 

“It wasn’t like we were trudging away all night while the partners were chilling at home – it was all hands on deck."

Interviewees didn’t beat around the bush when it came to hours – they can certainly veer towards the longer side: “There were periods where I was working 14 to 15 hours a day,”one trainee recalled. Another noted having “a few regular late nights, but usually nothing past 12am.”But on these occasions, sources were keen to emphasise that “it wasn’t like we were trudging away all night while the partners were chilling at home – it was all hands on deck. It felt like we were all in it together and working towards something.” Trainees also added that when work was a bit more regular, they’d finish closer to 6pm or 7pm. “The other thing is that I’ve never had to work on the weekend – I don’t mind if five days a week I’m churning through it because I’ve always got my weekend.” Trainees start on a salary of £50,600, which rises to £99,000 on qualification.

Like seat allocation, the firm’s qualification process revolves around conversations between trainees and the teams they’re interested in, as well as chats “with our training principal about which teams are on the market for NQ hiring.” Sources reflected that qualification has “generally worked out quite well” in the past, so were hopeful for their NQ hiring round. In 2021,the firm kept all four of its qualifiers.

Get Hired


Vacation scheme deadline (2022): TBC

Training contract deadline (2024): TBC


The firm generally receives around 400 applications for the ten vac scheme places available, plus another 700 from people gunning directly for a training contract. 

Both types of application begin with the same form. It covers standard fare like 'Why law?' and 'Why Arnold & Porter?' and candidates are also asked to provide examples of situations in which they occupied positions of responsibility. There are no specifically commercial-based questions. 


Following an application screening, the firm invites around 25 vac scheme applicants to interview. They carry out a timed exercise and are then interviewed by two senior fee earners. “We give them a legal problem to review,” says training principal Tom Fox, “and part of the interview process is for the candidate to talk us through their response. Although there is a legal theme, what we are really interested in is seeing how the candidate approaches the problem and how they communicate their response to the interviewers.” Interviewers then go on to discuss the candidate's CV, application and expectations for a training contract at A&P. Typically, ten candidates are chosen to attend the two-week vacation scheme (see below). 

All vacation scheme applicants are also deemed to have applied for a training contract. Following the vacation scheme, other candidates who have applied for a training contract but not the vacation scheme are evaluated on paper and some may be invited for interview. The interview follows a similar format to the vacation scheme interviews, but may be slightly longer. Applicants are asked to allow up to three hours for this interview. From here, the firm tends to make its offers. 

The firm now takes two trainees a year. Sometimes, both successful applicants have been chosen from those on the vacation scheme, but often one is chosen from the interview-only applicants. 

Vacation scheme 

A&P's vac scheme is two weeks long and takes place in the summer. Training and inductions take up the first day. Then follows a series of daily workshops, one of A&P's tools for assessing vac schemers. Fox talks us through one: “We'll give them a scenario – for example, a biotech company being set up – and have them run through the life-cycle of the business. At each stage we tie in the work the relevant department here conducts. The corporate department sets the company up, IP deals with issues around protecting and using IP rights, and so on.” 

Alongside these workshops, each vac schemer has their own project to work on that tests their drafting skills, capacity for meeting deadlines and ability to follow instructions. They also get involved in pieces of live work lawyers around the firm have on; they aren't tied to a specific team or department. Finally, towards the end of the two weeks, vac schemers are given a topic and tasked with formulating a presentation.

Arnold & Porter

Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street,

  • Partners 16
  • Assistant solicitors 26
  • Total trainees 4
  • UK offices London
  • Overseas offices 14
  • Contacts 
  • Graduate recruitment team, 020 7786 6100,
  • Training partner: Tom Fox,
  • Application criteria 
  • Training contracts pa: 2
  • Applications pa: 800
  • Minimum required degree grade: 2:1
  • Vacation scheme places pa: 10
  • Dates and deadlines 
  • Training contract applications open: October 2020
  • Training contract deadline, 2023 start: August 2021
  • Vacation scheme applications open: October 2020
  • Vacation scheme 2020 deadline: March 2021
  • Salary and benefits 
  • First-year salary: £50,600
  • Holiday entitlement: 25 days
  • Sponsorship 
  • Arnold & Porter will typically fund postgraduate legal education course fees and provide an additional maintenance grant.
  • LPC fees: Yes
  • GDL fees: Yes
  • Maintenance grant pa: £8,000
  • International and regional 
  • Client secondments: On an as need basis

Firm profile

Arnold & Porter is a US headquartered firm with a deserved reputation for its quality of service and expertise in handling the most complex legal and business problems, which require innovative and practical solutions.

Main areas of work

Arnold & Porter’s London lawyers advise on a full range of regulatory, transactional and litigation matters, with a particular focus on pharmaceuticals and medical device regulation and litigation, intellectual property and technology transactions and litigation, telecommunications, internet and media and technology, employment, competition and trade regulation, international arbitration, white collar crime UK enforcement and dispute resolution, corporate and securities, bankruptcy, finance, investment management and product liability advice and commercial litigation. Providing clients with an excellent service is Arnold & Porter’s number one priority, and the firm’s lawyers need to be commercially minded, approachable and able to work with clients as part of a team on complex and often high-profile legal issues.

Training opportunities

The firm looks for talented law and non-law graduates from all backgrounds who share the firm’s commitment to excellence, and want to be part of the continued growth of its London office. Candidates need to demonstrate a consistently high academic background; the firm looks for well-rounded individuals who can demonstrate their participation in a range of extra-curricular activities and achievements. Four six-month seats: life sciences and healthcare regulatory, IP, corporate and securities, finance, competition, international arbitration or white collar crime.

The firm encourages individuals to work across specialisms and emphasises teamwork, so trainees may find that whilst they are working in one group, they undertake work in a variety of different areas throughout the firm. Trainees will be expected to work on several matters at once, and assume responsibility at an early stage.

For more information please go to the Careers section on the website and select London Trainees.

An important aspect of the firm’s culture is its commitment to pro bono. Trainees and all lawyers at the firm are encouraged to take part in our pro bono programme and devote 15% of their time to it, helping young lawyers develop client management skills from an early stage.

Vacation schemes

The firm takes around ten summer vacation students each recruiting year. Whether you are a law or non-law student, the firm will introduce you to life in a busy City law firm. You will spend two weeks working on a variety of projects and workshops with partners and associates throughout the London office. Apply via the firm’s website by 8th March 2021.

Other benefits

Healthy incentive bonus, Christmas bonus, private health insurance, private dental insurance, life assurance, season ticket loan.

University law careers fairs 2020

Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, City, University of London, Manchester.

Social media

LinkedIn: apks-llp

This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2021

Ranked Departments

    • Commercial and Corporate Litigation (Band 5)
    • Competition Law (Band 6)
    • Financial Crime: Corporates (Band 4)
    • Intellectual Property (Band 6)
    • Life Sciences (Band 1)
    • Life Sciences: Product Liability (Band 1)
    • Life Sciences: Regulatory (Band 1)