Who needs the sorting hat? Trainees say this transatlantic titan is a “Hufflepuff with a backbone.”
“Today, the most significant factor differentiating firms at the top level is the divide between US and UK firms.” This was the opinion of trainees at Hogan Lovells. While acknowledging the prestige of the magic circle label, they felt “it’s a label that’s becoming less relevant.” The prestige of the magic circle firms is beyond doubt, but it’s also true that over the last ten years big US firms have steadily increased their foothold in the capital. While more of a transatlantic firm than US firm in its culture, Hogan Lovells identifies closer with the emerging global elite than the old-school London pack. It’s been a decade since US firm Hogan & Hartson joined forces with UK firm Lovells to create this Anglo-American juggernaut. In numbers, global revenues of $2.25 billion make Hogan Lovells one of the ten biggest firms in the world.
“I’ve had contact with people from Mexico to the Philippines – just about every continent to be honest!”
With a network of 48 offices spanning 26 countries, Hogan Lovells appealed to trainees looking for a firm with “a strong international outlook.” And London’s status as the firm’s largest office meant even more good news for trainees: “I’ve had contact with people from Mexico to the Philippines – just about every continent to be honest!” Sources were equally attracted to the firm’s “wide array of practice areas on offer,” many of which come with top-notch Chambers UK rankings attached to their name. In London, the firm’s banking, litigation and pensions teams are top-ranked, while Hogan Lovells boasts a further 14 top national rankings, including public law, data protection, trade finance, civil fraud, financial services, infrastructure, product liability, insurance, pensions litigation, and life sciences. Visit chambers.com for the full breakdown.
Six months before starting, incoming trainees are invited to learn about their seat options at a seats fair, after which they’re required to submit a list of their preferences. They can resubmit these preferences six months later, and then they're locked in for the remainder of the training contract. Our survey indicated that the majority of trainees were content with the system, but some did express frustration at not being able “to adjust your choices as your opinion evolves.” Trainees are required to complete a seat within each of the firm’s core practice groups: litigation, corporate and finance. Sources suggested that more niche seats including IP and data protection are “harder to secure,” because they typically house just one or two trainees at any one time.
A range of client and international secondments are also up for grabs for second-year trainees. To bag a spot, “you have to indicate your desire to go on a secondment in your initial seat plan.” Trainees find out if they’ll get to go during their first seat and are then asked to rank their preferred secondments. “There aren’t as many international secondments as advertised,” one felt, adding that “spots in New York and Singapore tend be very oversubscribed.” However, another source felt that “if you’re dead set on the idea and make it clear to HR, there’s a very high chance you will be able to complete a seat abroad.”
Among the firm's disputes teams you'll find the financial services disputes group, which represents banks and financial institutions facing contentious regulatory issues, investigations by regulators and disputes with borrowers – clients and case specifics are kept highly confidential. One trainee told us about their involvement on a “multimillion-pound dishonest assistance claim. I was mainly taking notes at witness interviews, one of which started at 4pm and ended at 11pm!” Another told us the team still does a fair bit of work related to the fallout from the LIBOR scandal, which hit the headlines in 2012. Due to the nature of the work in this seat, “everything needs to be checked, checked and checked again,” meaning trainees get quite a lot of oversight from senior associates and partners. “I didn’t feel micromanaged though,” one told us; “the team is very nice.” Sources reported proofreading expert reports, conducting research and drafting notes of advice.
“I was probably managing 30 or so distinct matters at any one time.”
Real estate sits within the firm's broader corporate and finance group. “Out of my whole training contract, it’s the seat where I had the most responsibility,” one source told us, a sentiment confirmed by our wider survey where real estate scored highest among the seats for client exposure. “In my first week I was calling people to complete transactions,” another source weighed in. “I was probably managing 30 or so distinct matters at any one time.” There was a lot of asset management work, “which mainly involves renewing and drafting leases and licences to alter.” Our insiders also had chances to work on larger matters, typically working for “major investment institutions such as pensions funds,” as well as private equity houses and sovereign wealth funds. For example, the firm recently ran an auction of offshore wind farm leases on behalf of the Crown Estate. The team also advises clients in the hotel sector, and recently acted for Israel-based Fattal Hotels on its £1 billion acquisition of four London Grange Hotels.
The corporate group handles everything from M&A to private equity and corporate governance, as well as venture capital and a bit of advisory work. Like real estate, trainees explained that “there are opportunities to develop an actual relationship with the client,” alongside chances “to take a first stab at drafting key and ancillary documents.” Hogan Lovells was behind the scenes in the launch of BritBox, acting for ITV on the joint venture with the BBC. The team also recently advised Fortress Investment Group on its £95 million acquisition of Majestic Wine (now called Naked Wines).
“… conducting research on the regulation of cryptocurrencies.”
A seat with Hogan Lovells' banking and lending team technicallycounts as another corporate seat, but “also overlaps with finance,” sources explained. One insider told us: “Recently, a lot of the work I’ve been on has involved looking at how products and licences need to be amended to comply with FCA rules, particularly within the FinTech industry.” Sources described it as a research-heavy seat, which for one trainee meant “conducting research on the regulation of cryptocurrencies.” For another it meant “working on a research project on the potential regulations facing a loan offering from our client in over 35 jurisdictions.” The team advises both banks (like Lloyds, HSBC and Citibank) as well as non-bank lenders like investment company Ares Management, which the team advised as the lender of £600 million to VetPartners, which operates hundreds of veterinary practices in the UK. On the bank side, the team acted for RBS and NatWest in connection with £115 million of funding for Francisco Partners to acquire software company ByBox.
There’s a surprising range of work within Hogan Lovells' tax group (another corporate option), which covers bonds work, transfer pricing and tax litigation, as well as real estate, finance and employment related work. One trainee explained that “because there’s such a broad spectrum of work, you end up working on all kinds of technical queries and questions,” adding: “Typically, I’m working on three to four things in a given day that are all completely different.” Even though they had a lot on their plates, trainees said this seat has a slightly slower pace compared to other corporate seats. “It feels good not to just be slogging away at one transaction for months on end,” one said. “Here you have time to get to grips with the details and do some in-depth analysis. There’s a lot less documentation involved so you’re doing a lot more research rather than drafting.” Recently, the team advised the Department for Education on the securitisation of £4 billion of income-contingent repayment student loans.
One finance option is Hogan Lovells' varied capital markets practice, which deals with high-yield bonds, structured finance, securitisation, derivatives, corporate bonds and equity capital markets. Like tax, the work is “highly technical and complex.” But unlike tax “it’s very fast-paced, commodified work. You’re under a lot of time pressure and often don’t have time to think about the finer details of a transaction – it can be quite stressful.” Trainees here don’t have to wait long before they’re juggling the drafting of board minutes and resolutions, alongside proofreading and inserting amendments into key documents. Recently the team advised hotel management company Radisson on its issuance of €250 million high-yield bonds, and advised financial institution Urban Exposure on its £150 million initial public offering on the Alternative Investment Market.
One source described Hogan Lovells' culture as “Hufflepuff with a backbone.” As the Hogwarts house known for being the most inclusive, our sources were certainly impressed with Hogan Lovells' efforts on the diversity and inclusion front. In our trainee survey, the firm scored highly in all diversity metrics including: efforts in recruiting diverse candidates; inclusivity training; diverse staffing of teams; and efforts to promote and retain a diverse group of lawyers. Of course, with ethnic minorities accounting for just 17% ofUK associates, the firm still has room for improvement.
“There are times when you’re wired and just running on adrenalin, but importantly, you’re given the time and space to crash.”
Hufflepuffers are also revered for being ‘unafraid of toil’ and the hours that the lawyers here work suggest there are no cowards here. Finance seats were flagged as the most punishing by our insiders. “At one point during my capital markets seat I was leaving at midnight for three weeks straight,” one shared. Similarly, another source recalled “finishing at 6am and having to start again at 9am.” Not fun. However, there were also plenty of gentler periods where trainees could head out of the door early. “There are times when you’re wired and just running on adrenalin, but importantly, you’re given the time and space to crash,” one explained. “If I’m deemed to have been working too much, senior lawyers tell me to stop. My supervisor has recently established clear lines that I wouldn’t work too much after a super busy period.” While a significant number of our survey respondents did indicate that they were stressed, trainees praised the firm for being proactive in addressing mental wellbeing, explaining that “there are a ton of resources to make use of, including an on-site therapist.” Whether that inspires comfort or concern is down to you.
Trainees can fix themselves an altruistic high through engagement with the firm’s rave-reviewed pro bonoprogramme, singled out for acclaim by nearly all participants in our trainee survey. The cornerstone of this is the HL BaSE programme, a conference over two days for associates across the firm’s European offices to learn about social enterprises and get matched up with pro bono assignments. Trainees thought “it’s an excellent initiative as you can do work you might not experience in your seats, and you realise the firm's global presence by meeting peers from around the world.”
Having a large trainee intake of around 50 a year, we were unsurprised to hear that informal socialising was frequent, though one source felt “it has petered off since the beginning.” A number of more formal socials throughout the year tend to draw a bigger crowd, including firm-wide Christmas and summer parties, the most recent of which was held at the Natural History Museum. Practice groups also organise their own frivolities. For example, litigators headed to the five-star Ham Yard Hotel in Soho for their latest Christmas social.
In the run-up to qualification, the firm circulates a jobs list. Trainees apply and can rank multiple choices. This is then followed by interviews led by the practice groups themselves. “My sense is that the process is quite formal compared to other firms,” one source observed. “I was required to do a written exercise for mine.” In 2020, Hogan Lovells retained 40 of 56 of its cohort, with two fixed-term contracts. Prior to the pandemic, NQs enjoyed a salary of £90,000, which has since been cut to £85,000. Some of the firm’s competitors have taken similar decisions.
The City of a Thousand Trades
Hogan also has a smaller office in Birmingham which takes a couple of trainees a year.
How to get a Hogan Lovells training contract
Vacation scheme deadline (2021): 3 January 2021 (summer), 31 October 2020 (winter)
Training contract deadline (2023): Application deadline for non-law students and graduates: 31 January 2021 (close applications) Application deadline for law students: (re-open applications) 1 June – 31 July 2021
First-year insight days (2021): 28 February 2021
Law fairs and events
The firm attends up to 27 law fairs and participates in up to 150 virtual and in-person on campus and in-house events each year. Some of the latter are open to students from school to university age, as part of Hogan Lovells' broader PRIME social mobility initiative. These initiatives include virtual and in-person skills sessions, presentations, mentoring, work experience, insight days and office visits for students from Year 9 through to university level.
The firm works closely with Aspiring Solicitors, Rare Recruitment, The Sutton Trust and MyPlus Consulting on various diversity initiatives which help feed into the firm's D&I focus.
Additionally, there's a biennial open day for mature students, supported by the Birkbeck School of Law, plus two day insight events twice a year for first-year law and non-law students. To apply for an insight event – or any of Hogan Lovells' vacation schemes or training contract opportunities – candidates complete an online application form and undergo a critical thinking test.
The firm has also partnered with InsideSherpa to offer a global virtual internship. Gain hands-on work experience that gives you a taste of working life at Hogan Lovells, by taking on trainee-level tasks. It’s quick, easy to access at any time of the day and anyone can sign up – no need to apply. Check out www.hoganlovells.com to learn more.
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 3,000 applications each year. There's space for up to 50 trainees, spread across two intakes (usually August and February).
Make sure you've done your research on Hogan Lovells' practice groups, industry sectors, 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 critical thinking test and application review stage, are invited to attend an assessment day either in person or virtually. This kicks off with a 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 and a guided tour of the office or a virtual networking session with some current trainees. These informalities are accompanied by two interviews: a situational interview with a senior associate and a member of graduate recruitment, and another with partners and senior associates. Those attending an assessment day for a training contract also complete a group exercise.
- Partners 155 (London)
- Total trainees 90
- UK offices London, Birmingham
- Overseas offices 48
- Graduate recruiter: Jen Baird, [email protected]
- Training partner: Crispin Rapinet
- Application criteria
- Training contracts pa: up to 50
- Applications pa: 3,000
- Minimum required degree grade: 2:1 (or above)
- Minimum UCAS points or A levels: AAB
- Vacation scheme places pa: 70
- Dates and deadlines
- Training contract applications open: 14th September 2020
- Training contract deadline, 2023 start: 31st July 2021
- Vacation scheme applications open: 14th September 2020
- Vacation scheme 2021 deadline: (Winter) 31st October 2020 (Summer) 3rd January 2021
- Open day deadline: 28th February 2021
- Salary and benefits
- First-year salary: £46,000
- Second-year salary: £51,000
- Post-qualification salary: £85,000
- 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, British American Tobacco, Citibank, Exxon Mobil, Ford Credit, Merck, Standard Chartered Bank
Main areas of work
Each year, we take on up to 50 graduates (from law and non-law degree subjects) as trainee solicitors. Here’s how it works: on a two-year training contract, you’ll do four six-month seats across our different practice areas. Plus, for one of those seats, you’ll have the chance to apply for an international or client secondment. You’ll also have hands-on support and the expert guidance you need.
Open days and first-year opportunities
University law careers fairs 2020
Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing:
We’re a global law firm that celebrates individuality. Wherever we are in the world, we support and encourage each other open-mindedly and wholeheartedly. It’s why you’ll always have your voice heard in a community full of diverse perspectives and backgrounds.
It’s simple: diversity makes us a better firm. We’re at the top of our game, pushing boundaries for clients like never before, because of our people. So we’ll make sure that you’re nurtured, engaged and completely confident being yourself here. It all adds up to a culture of openness and inclusivity; a work environment that embraces everybody and gives you everything you need to flourish.
We live and breathe our inclusive values through six diversity networks:
50:50 and StepUp
Actively supports ways to improve gender diversity at all levels of the firm.
Addresses challenges faced by parents and carers.
Makes sure our LGBTQ+ colleagues are supported, respected and embraced.
Race & Ethnicity at Hogan Lovells (REAHL)
Focuses on improving BAME representation, progression and retention.
Promotes a culture that welcomes all, regardless of ethnic background, faith or culture.
Know this: your health and wellbeing will always be a priority. Our wellbeing programme provides guidance and advice on financial, mental, social and physical wellbeing. We have trained Mental Health First Aiders ready to help and support you. We’re proud members of the City Mental Health Alliance, which aims to create a culture of good mental health for City workers. And we’re always looking for ways to remove unnecessary stress and boost wellbeing around the firm.
Respect at Work
The clue’s in the name – this programme makes sure everyone feels respected at work. It’s all part of nurturing a culture where people feel comfortable raising concerns and know that we’ll handle it appropriately and sensitively. We also have Respect Advocates: trained senior level colleagues who can be spoken to confidentially when you might not want to talk to your line manager or HR in the first instance.
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2020
- 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: Contentious (Band 2)
- Construction: Non-contentious (Band 2)
- 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 4)
- Professional Negligence: Financial (Band 3)
- Professional Negligence: Legal (Band 3)
- Public International Law (Band 4)
- 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)
- Financial Services: Contentious Regulatory (Corporates) (Band 2)
- Financial Services: Non-contentious Regulatory (Band 3)
- Financial Services: Payments Law (Band 1)
- Fraud: Civil (Band 1)
- Infrastructure (Band 3)
- Infrastructure: PFI/PPP (Band 1)
- Insurance: Contentious Claims & Reinsurance (Band 5)
- Insurance: Non-contentious (Band 1)
- International Arbitration: Commercial Arbitration (Band 3)
- International Arbitration: Investor-State Arbitration (Band 3)
- Investment Funds: Closed-ended Listed Funds (Band 2)
- Investment Funds: Real Estate (Band 3)
- Life Sciences (Band 1)
- Life Sciences: IP/Patent Litigation (Band 2)
- Life Sciences: Product Liability (Band 1)
- 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)
- Tax: Contentious (Band 3)
- Transport: Rail: Projects & Infrastructure (Band 3)
- Transport: Rail: Rolling Stock (Band 2)