Variety is the spice of a very spicy life as a trainee at this Anglo-American powerhouse.
The lawyers of tomorrow have a lot to consider when making decisions about their career path – you’re reading Chambers Student so you’re probably well aware of this. If you’re unsure where you want to end up, Hogan Lovells’ varied training contract might be just the ticket. One HL trainee surmised that “for many of my intake, it was important to join a firm which gives relatively equal weighting to a wide range of practices.” So whether you’re hungry for a firm “with high-quality contentious work,” somewhere “where they invest in niche practice areas that aren’t just serving as corporate support,” or a training contract that “offers a variety of international secondments,” Hogan might just be enough to get ol' grandpa Joe (you in this scenario) out of bed and working on his application form.
Since the 2010 merger between Americans Hogan & Hartson and UK firm Lovells, HL has made its mark on the global stage. More than 45 offices around the world bear the Hogan Lovells name and London is the largest of the lot; Chambers UK grants the firm more than 25 rankings in the capital including top prizes for litigation, construction and pensions. HL also picks up UK-wide rankings in areas including insurance, infrastructure, life sciences, trade finance and public law – all in all it scores nearly 70 Chambers UK rankings. Trainees considered Hogan “a real contender to the magic circle. Any real gap between those firms and others is shrinking.” As Hogan ranked higher than all of the magic circle bar Clifford Chance in the 2018 revenue stakes, it’s hard to disagree.
“A real contender to the magic circle.”
All Hogan trainees complete an accelerated LPC before joining the firm, which our interviewees were grateful for. “It’s not hard and I think it’s a course that can easily be done, and should be done, in six months,” they said, adding that “you can use the rest of the time to do something fun like travelling.” Or you could wait until you start as a trainee – popular international secondments include Hong Kong, New York, Brussels, Paris, and Dubai. Trainees who managed to bag themselves a spot revelled in chances to “work on high-quality cases” while living in centrally located apartments and enjoying a generous cost of living bonus. They did, however, warn that “most secondments are finance-based.” The same is true of client secondments: Standard Chartered and Citi are common destinations.
“To ensure there is more flexibility when it comes to qualification,” sources must complete a seat in each of the firm’s main branches: litigation, corporate and finance. Tax, real estate and pensions all fall under the corporate umbrella. For their first seat, trainees submit preferences during their LPC. Midway through that seat, they list their six preferences for corporate and finance seats, as well as secondments, and they can also rank the litigation seats in order of their preference. These choices are then locked in for the rest of the training contract. To make trainee decisions easier the firm puts on “a seats fair showcasing representatives from each department beforehand.” Many of our interviewees were content with the system, having scored most of their top preferences, but others felt its rigidity caused issues. We heard multiple reports of “trainees having to sacrifice going on secondment to have a better chance of getting a seat in a more niche area of law like IP.”
Pack your swimwear
Real estate – also known as C2 within the broader corporate practice – is made up of 12 teams; each houses a partner, a couple of senior associates, associates and a trainee. Clients here include large institutional investors, sovereign wealth and pensions funds. The team recently advised the limited partnership behind Kings Cross Central on the redesigned ‘experiential’ Coal Drops Yard retail and leisure site. They were also on hand for the Crown Estate during a lease grant to Triton Knoll Offshore Wind Farm to finance a £2 billion offshore wind development project. Trainees are unlikely to be working on designs this big every day, but that doesn’t that mean they have it easy. On the contrary, many described real estate as a “sink or swim seat. From day one you’re expected to manage your own transactions including new leases or licences to install, alter, underlet or assign.”
One source described “receiving a handover of over 30 live matters which I had to juggle all at once. It felt like death by a thousand cuts, I was trying to work out how the printer worked while ringing up my clients trying to ask what the situation was with their lease!” Trainees confirmed that their supervisors were on hand to answer questions, but pointed out that “if you’re having to clear everything with your supervisor first, you’d never get anything done.” Another reasoned that “in disputes any question you ask someone more senior is relevant because you’re all working on one matter, whereas in real estate everyone has their own projects they’re working on. You’re more reluctant to ask people questions about cases that aren’t theirs.” A difficult hurdle to get over, but sources unanimously agreed thatthe confidence gained from working independently “puts you in a very good place going forward with the rest of the training contract.”
“I was trying to work out how the printer worked while ringing up my clients!”
In group C1 you’ll find all the standard corporate disciplines include M&A, private equity, capital markets, and corporate governance. “There’s a lot of potential to work on a range of different matters,” one source emphasised, adding that they “helped on a deal for a FTSE 100 company that went through several iterations.” Another got involved “on a private sale of a large leasing company” while also helping on “smaller ad-hoc matters like handling the back end of a closing for a client acquiring a smaller business.” Plenty of large companies call on Hogan Lovells’ expertise including Mitsubishi, News Corporation and Ford. A trainee’s primary responsibility in corporate is co-ordinating with counsel on large deals, but our sources also got plenty of opportunities to draft board minutes, non-disclosure and share purchase agreements and “offer advice on the verification process.” International work is the default here: in one border-smashing example the team advised real estate investment trust Prologis on the sale of a $1.1 billion building and land portfolio spanning Europe and the US to Singaporean sovereign investor Temasek.
Trainees have plenty of options for their finance seat including banking; infrastructure and project finance; asset finance; acquisition finance; and restructuring/insolvency. Across the board, interviewees took on similar responsibilities and common trainee tasks include running CP checklists, drafting legal opinions and, for one trainee in acquisition finance, “independently negotiating all of the ancillary documents for a matter with the due diligence providers.” Interviewees there summarised the practice as “the debt function when one company buys another. At a junior level I’m drafting legal opinions using precedent and collating the signature pages.” The firm represented One Rock Capital on an offering to partly fund its acquisition of Nexeo Plastics, divested from chemical distributor Univar.
A who’s who of big-name banks including HSBC, Citibank, BNP Paribas and Société Générale make up the client roster in the core banking department. The team acted for RBS, NatWest and direct lending partners AIG, M&G and Hermes on £115 million worth of senior facilities made available to fund private equity firm Francisco Partners’ acquisition of software and supply chain management company ByBox. “Banking is one of the biggest groups and comes with some of the biggest hours,” insiders revealed. HL’s practice isn’t purely lender-side and the firm recently advised Radisson Hospitality on a €20 million revolving credit facility.
Litigation breaks down into four main groups, each designated a ‘D’. D1 is financial services disputes; commercial disputes, product liability and insurance are D2; D3 is corporate litigation, investigations, contentious insolvency and fraud; and D4 encompasses international arbitration, projects, engineering and construction. If a trainee wants to avoid all four of these, they can fulfil their contentious requirements in another seat such as IP or employment.
"It’s testament to how good the team is that they don’t shed juniors."
Competition spats, “niche” commercial litigation and fraud cases can all be found in financial services litigation. “You’re mainly defending big banks,” a source revealed. “I was involved in a LIBOR investigation and the litigation that came out of it, we had a team of five lawyers working round the clock.” Hogan Lovells successfully defended Bank of Scotland against claims over the suitability of an interest-rate swap along with alleged breach of contract and misrepresentation. Trainees get to draft witness statements and attend court hearings along with “the admin stuff like bundling, action lists and going through invoices. It’s testament to how good the team is that they don’t shed junior associates.”
“The two sides are kept quite separate” in the curiously mixed international arbitration and construction side of the firm’s practice. Energy disputes are the arbitration team’s strongest suit; it recently acted for subsidiaries of the global power company AES in ICC proceedings brought against Kazakhstan surrounding two hydropower plants, the dispute valued at more than $500 million overall. One arbitration case required a source to “prepare all the claims forms and application notices, check the witness statements and liaise with the judge’s clerks.” Another highlighted the intrigue of “working towards uncertain outcomes. It feels like you’re always preparing to prepare!” Matters can require “pulling together enormous numbers of exhibits, each made of up thousands of documents,” to help with preparation and drafting of witness statements.
Live like a tourist
Sources reflected that “though we are busy and do difficult work, it’s not super high pressure 24/7 and you’re not worked like a dog for two years.” ‘Not working like a dog’ is a low bar to set and we heard plenty of reports of trainees working in the office for ten or 12 hours at a time consistently. Busier times can call for even longer stints: “I finished at 5am on my longest day,” one trainee confirmed. “I had to use one of the sleeping pods in the office after that.” The flip side is that Hogan’s trainee salary of £46,000 is higher than many of its City peers and a handful of seats including pensions offer 6pm average finishes, which is damn good value for money.
Late workers were at least happy with their surroundings – the firm’s office is next door to Amazon and “went through a big refurbishment recently.” Trainees are free to enjoy the benefits of an all-inclusive gym, a rooftop terrace and a new canteen which offers “a lot more healthy options than we used to get.” The building is a mix of open-plan and office spaces; for now "most trainees will still share an office with their supervisor."
“The firm doesn’t have any pretentious vibes."
“The people and the culture” drew many of our interviewees to HL. Asked to expand further, one elaborated that “the firm doesn’t have any pretentious vibes to it. It’s a place where they don’t skimp on the quality of work but at the same time don’t have a running-you-into-the-ground type culture.” Opinions are bound to vary at a firm the size of Hogan, and another source argued that in “in a market as crowded and competitive as law, firms are looking for any edge they can get and that creates an atmosphere where partners and senior associates can only be so friendly. Some of them are great and take time to explain things clearly; others will expect you to know what they’re talking about.” The general consensus among trainees was that “there are far more good supervisors than bad.”
The firm makes “a real investment in their annual social events,” sources citing previous summer parties in the Tower of London and the Natural History Museum as particular highlights. Some reckoned that “the firm could do better with ad-hoc socials throughout the year,” but they agreed with others that informal socialising varies by department. A trainee who’d sat in arbitration praised the tradition of afternoon tea on Fridays: “At 4pm the whole team sits in the communal area, has some tea – or wine – and discusses what’s going on in people’s lives outside of work.” Real estate sources highlighted the team’s penchant for a good pub quiz.
The firm circulates a jobs list in the run-up to qualification. Trainees apply and can rank multiple choices; departments hold interviews if more people have applied than there are jobs available. Sources were pleased overall, as “the system is impartial and doesn’t reward smooching or brown-nosing.” A few noted that “having to rank at least two departments does create some anxiety, despite the firm assuring us it doesn’t influence their decision.” Hogan Lovells did not disclose its retention figure in 2019.
A handful of trainees work from the Birmingham office, which now comes complete with an indoor putting green. Fore!
How to get a Hogan Lovells training contract
Training contract deadline (2022): 31 January 2020 (non-law); 31 July 2020 (law)
First-year insight days (2019): 29 February 2020
Law fairs and events
The firm attends up to 27 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, mentoring, work experience , 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.
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 3,900 applications each year. There's space for up to 50 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 now 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 a senior associate and a member of graduate recruitment, and one with partners and senior associates. 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 48
- Graduate recruiter: Jen Baird, [email protected]
- Training partner: Crispin Rapinet
- Application criteria
- Training contracts pa: 50
- Applications pa: 2,900
- Minimum required degree grade: 2:1 (or equivalent) in any discipline
- Minimum UCAS points or A levels: AAA
- Vacation scheme places pa: 70
- Dates and deadlines
- Training contract applications open: 16th September 2019
- Training contract deadline: 31st July 2020
- Non-law & Graduates: 16th September - 31st January 2020
- Law: 1st June - 31st July 2020 2022 start: February and August
- Vacation scheme applications open: 16th September 2019
- Vacation scheme 2019 deadline: (Winter) 31st October 2019 (Summer) 5th January 2020
- Open day deadline: 29th February 2020
- Salary and benefits
- First-year salary: £46,000
- Second-year salary: £51,000
- Post-qualification salary: £90,000
- 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 £10,000.
- International and regional
- Offices with training contracts: London, Birmingham
- Overseas seats: Brussels, Dubai, Hong Kong,New York, Paris, Singapore
- Client secondments BNP Paribas, Barclays, British American Tobacco, Citibank, Exxon Mobil,Ford Credit Europe, MSD, Standard Chartered Bank
Main areas of work
Open days and first-year opportunities
University law careers fairs 2019
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2019
- Banking & Finance: Lenders: Mid-Market (Band 1)
- Banking Litigation (Band 2)
- Capital Markets: Securitisation (Band 2)
- Commercial and Corporate Litigation (Band 1)
- Competition Law (Band 2)
- Construction: Purchaser (Band 2)
- Construction: Supplier (Band 3)
- Corporate/M&A: High-end Capability (Band 4)
- Employment: Employer (Band 3)
- Financial Crime: Corporates (Band 3)
- Information Technology (Band 4)
- Intellectual Property (Band 2)
- Intellectual Property: Patent Litigation (Band 2)
- Litigation (Band 1)
- Pensions (Band 1)
- Planning (Band 5)
- Professional Negligence: Financial (Band 3)
- Professional Negligence: Legal (Band 3)
- Public International Law (Band 3)
- Real Estate Finance (Band 3)
- Real Estate Litigation (Band 2)
- Real Estate: Big-Ticket (Band 2)
- Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 3)
- Tax (Band 3)
- Administrative & Public Law (Band 1)
- Asset Finance: Aviation Finance (Band 3)
- Commercial Contracts (Band 2)
- Commodities: Trade Finance (Band 1)
- Construction: International Arbitration (Band 2)
- Consumer Finance (Band 1)
- Data Protection & Information Law (Band 1)
- Employee Share Schemes & Incentives (Band 4)
- Energy & Natural Resources: Oil & Gas (Band 3)
- Energy & Natural Resources: Power (Band 4)
- Financial Services: Contentious Regulatory (Corporates) (Band 2)
- Financial Services: Non-contentious Regulatory (Band 3)
- Financial Services: Payments Law (Band 1)
- Fraud: Civil (Band 1)
- Hotels & Leisure (Band 3)
- Infrastructure (Band 3)
- Infrastructure: PFI/PPP (Band 1)
- Insurance: Contentious Claims (Band 4)
- Insurance: Non-contentious (Band 1)
- Insurance: Reinsurance (Band 4)
- International Arbitration: Commercial Arbitration (Band 2)
- International Arbitration: Investor-State Arbitration (Band 3)
- Investment Funds: Closed-ended Listed Funds (Band 2)
- Investment Funds: Real Estate (Band 2)
- Life Sciences (Band 2)
- Life Sciences: IP/Patent Litigation (Band 2)
- Life Sciences: Product Liability (Band 1)
- Media & Entertainment: Advertising & Marketing (Band 4)
- Parliamentary & Public Affairs: Public Affairs (Band 1)
- Pensions Litigation (Band 1)
- Private Equity: Buyouts: Mid-Market (Band 2)
- Product Liability: Food (Band 1)
- Product Liability: Mainly Defendant (Band 1)
- Projects (Band 3)
- Projects: PFI/PPP (Band 2)
- Public Procurement (Band 1)
- Retail (Band 4)
- Tax: Contentious (Band 3)
- Transport: Rail: Projects & Infrastructure (Band 3)
- Transport: Rail: Rolling Stock (Band 2)