In Case you hadn’t noticed, this “global brand” has been putting an international spin on the corporate world in London for over 50 years.
White & Case training contract review 2024
There’s a whole host of reasons why people decide that they want to pursue a career in law. It’s no wonder either, given the breadth of opportunities and practice areas that are out there. For some, the law can serve as a ticket to build a cross-border career, and even see the world – if you choose the right firm, of course. With 43 offices spread across the US, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East, White & Case isn’t a bad place to start.
“… cross-border elements to almost every transaction.”
“It’s a firm with a truly international character,” said one trainee, adding, “it’s not just a US outpost in London; it’s a global brand.” In fact, with a whole host of guaranteed secondment opportunities and “cross-border elements to almost every transaction,” White & Case is the place to be if you fancy yourself as a bit of a jetsetter. Its international credentials are nothing new – White & Case was one of the first US law firms to establish an office outside the United States (Place Vendôme in Paris, back in 1926 if you’re interested). It was also among the first firms to migrate over to London in 1971.
Given the sheer scale of the firm, it was bound to end up with a reputation to match its size. Chambers UK awards the firm top-tier rankings in international arbitration, oil & gas, infrastructure and projects nationwide. If that wasn’t enough, the firm also scoops top rankings in London for its capital markets work in both debt and equity (something of a specialty at White & Case). There’s also a host of strong rankings in banking & finance, restructuring and commodities to boot. That’s before we even get into the firm’s global rankings, which you can wade through here.
“When you are selecting your seats, you choose three choices and rank them in order of preference, alongside a bit of detail about why you want to sit in that particular practice area.” The general consensus among trainees was that while this extra detail wasn’t a requirement, “it will strengthen your application.” A finance seat (which includes debt finance, FRI (restructuring), capital markets, and project finance) is a compulsory part of the training contract at White & Case, “mainly down to the size of those seats.” Trainees that don’t spend time in a litigious seat will sit a two-week course to gain the necessary experience, “and most trainees will end up doing a corporate seat as well.”
“You have a guaranteed international secondment.”
“You have a guaranteed international secondment in your fourth seat, which is one of the main perks,” one trainee explained. “It’s not mandatory but it’s encouraged. It offers great exposure to some foreign jurisdiction documents, but it’ll also just give you a taste of another culture and environment.” With a host of overseas offices taking trainees, “we will be given a list with the practice areas alongside them. So it might be that, for example, the Frankfurt office needs someone to assist in their capital markets team.”
From a trainees’ second seat onwards, there are a range of client secondment opportunities too, either for a full six-month rotation or for two months as part of another seat. “In bank finance, for example, if you are in your second or third seat, there is a two-month secondment to Blackstone, which is more or less compulsory” – Blackstone is an investment management company. “And that’s on a rolling basis, so we’ve always got a trainee and an associate there.”
As one of the firm’s specialist practices, the capital markets group is one option for trainees’ compulsory finance seat. Split between debt and equity, the team at White & Case is made up of a mixture of US and UK-qualified lawyers. For trainees that specify an interest in equity capital markets, there is the option to jump on the likes of IPOs, SPACs, rights issues, and listings on the London Stock Exchange. Typical trainee tasks included the first draft of the documents involved in fundraising, researching, due diligence and running deadlines. “We got to assist with some of the work in the Dubai offices as well,” another recalled. “The team in London works closely with the capital markets team in Dubai, so there’s plenty of crossover with them.” Following a post-pandemic recovery in 2021, 2022 was a quiet year for IPO deals in London and the rest of Europe. On one deal that was made, the firm was brought in to advise Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley as joint global coordinators of Ithaca Energy’s £262 million IPO.
The corporate department at White & Case is split into teams in M&A and private equity. “The M&A team covers quite general corporate work in the sense that they revolve around public and private mergers and acquisitions,” one trainee explained. “Depending on which partner you are paired up with, you might be working on either. Some partners specialise in private stuff, others in the big public takeovers.” On these kinds of deals, trainees’ work will typically focus on the signing and completion checklist process: “There’s a lot of document management – preparing things like signature packs for signing processes.” Trainees in the seat were quick to highlight the level of responsibility on offer too: “A lot of these matters aren’t staffed up with a lot of associates, so I got to see a lot of interesting stuff.” In one recent deal, the firm represented FTSE 100 cybersecurity company Avast in its $9.2 billion merger with NortonLifeLock (a multi-jurisdictional deal involving the UK, US and Czech Republic).
On the other side of the corporate coin, the private equity team covers all private equity-related matters across seven sub-teams including pure private equity, infrastructure and emerging markets. As one trainee highlighted, “there are opportunities to indicate where you want to work (which specific pillar of the practice).” While private equity forms a separate team to M&A under the corporate banner, trainees told us that there was plenty of crossover between the two. In one recent example, the team represented the Goldman Sachs Asset Management Division on its acquisition of a $2 billion controlling stake in pharmaceuticals company Norgine BV. As far as typical trainee tasks go, the current cohort reported “a lot of preparing board minutes and making minor amendments to longer-form agreements. But it’s cool to be a part of the due diligence process in terms of organising signings and running closing documents.”
“There can be a lot of running back and forth, which can be interesting – especially if you’re in heels in court!”
For prospective trainees with their eye on a contentious seat, international arbitration is something of a specialism at White & Case, with the practice split between the offices in London, Paris, Geneva, New York, Washington DC, Stockholm and Singapore. A point of pride for the firm is that White & Case’s lawyers tend to conduct their own advocacy, meaning court time is an inevitability. “I was part of the team working to file an interim application on an injunction in the court,” one recalled. “I got to draft witness statements, prepare bundles, and phone counsel. There can be a lot of running back and forth, which can be interesting – especially if you’re in heels in court!” Don’t forget to pack some Compeed. Trainees mentioned that there was plenty of work on the administrative side of things, as “it’s a longer game before you get exposure to drafting pleadings and things like that.”
As another of the finance seats available to trainees at White & Case, the debt finance group works closely with the private equity team. “A lot of private equity deals have a debt finance side to them,” one source told us, “so a lot of the typical tasks you’ll come across in the seat are quite similar to private equity, from drafting legal opinions and company search reports to managing conditions precedent checklists and things like that.” The debt finance group works on both the borrower and lender side, with sub-teams in bank lending, private credit & direct lending, and borrower finance, which work on everything from leveraged buyouts to acquisition financing and refinancings. As one trainee put it, “there’s been a lot of process management and transaction management, but I got to do some first cuts of security documents too.”
One thing to emerge from our conversations with the current cohort was that White & Case is a good place to be if you’re a foodie. As part of the firm’s refurbishment of the canteen area (alongside other parts of the building) trainees can look forward to breakfast, lunch and dinner, all free. Yes, free. One trainee summed it up perfectly: “We have food from all over the world, cake, a separate coffee bar… oh man, the food is good!” What’s more, with breakfast, lunch and dinner all paid for, “it makes it really easy to take someone out for coffee or meet with a supervisor.” If that’s not enough to tickle your tastebuds, “we’ve had a cookery class for trainees and their supervisors, which has been a regular evening thing where we go to a local cookery school, prepare food and get to know each other outside of work.”
When it comes to training at the firm, the general consensus was that “you need to take training into your own hands – if you do not understand something, you need to use your resources to get familiar with the matter.” This is true of feedback too: “We have a formal mid-seat and end-of-seat review, but if you want continuous feedback, it’s something you ask for.” To balance this however, trainees reported that supervisors who were busy getting a transaction over the line went back to provide them with a “post-event breakdown, which was really helpful.” Around the time of end-of-seat reviews, “there will be different questions you are asked against different benchmarks, but it’s never critical, it’s more a case of finding out what opportunities you are looking for.”
“… when you factor in the free food, I don’t think I can complain too much.”
Trainees at White & Case are expected to come into the office three days a week, with Wednesday and Thursday allocated as ‘anchor days’ for all departments. “It’s different between contentious and transactional seats,” one trainee said of hours at the firm. “During a busy period I’ll come in at 9am and leave about 9pm, and that will sometimes slip into the weekend.” That being said, survey responses indicated that while late nights do happen, quieter periods mean that average weekly hours even out in line with the market average. Trainees were satisfied with their salaries too: “Maybe it’s a bit below some of the American firms that have a similar expectations in terms of hours, but when you factor in the free food, I don’t think I can complain too much.” Bon appetit!
As fourth-seaters approach qualification: “We are highly encouraged to reach out to certain partners and express an interest in qualifying into a particular area,” one source told us. “Then when the list comes out, you list four possible options of where you’d like to qualify.” Precisely what the process involves depends on which seat you’ve expressed an interest in. “Each practice area has its own process, so seats like debt finance and private equity don’t have an interview process, leaving it to more informal conversations,” one explained, “but the more contentious seats will have interviews and written pieces that you have to submit. So, it’s not a firm-wide consistent process.” In 2023, the firm retained 38 of 47 qualifiers.
Seen and heard: “I think it’s quite a young partnership which has an effect on the culture of the firm. They put trainees in a position to talk to clients and build their profile. You’re never told that networking events are just for partners.”
How to get a White & Case training contract
- Open day deadlines: 29 October 2023
- Vacation scheme deadlines: 15 October 2023 (winter), 14 January 2024 (spring and summer)
- First-year insight scheme deadline: 31 March 2024
- Training contract deadline: 14 July 2024
White & Case has several ways for prospective trainees to get to know the firm, from vacation and insight schemes to open days. Of course, if you’ve already made up your mind, then there is also the option to apply directly for the training contract.
Open days and insight schemes
White & Case holds two open days in November as well as two, two-day insight schemes in May. The former, says Graduate Resourcing Manager Gemma Barns, are “for penultimate-year students, finalists and graduates from any degree discipline,” while the insight schemes are also for any degree discipline, but are aimed at first-year students only.
In both instances, those interested “are required to submit an online application form.” Applications for the insight schemes are between 11 September 2023 and 31 March 2024, while open day applications close on 29 October 2023. However, if you’re not lucky enough to attend one of these, Barns says they’re “a stand-alone opportunity” and are not part of the application process for a vacation scheme or training contract at the firm.
The vacation scheme
One route into the firm is via its three vacation schemes, which take 25 people each. Running in winter, spring and summer, each one is two weeks long and “participants sit in one practice area during the vacation scheme,” Barns explains. “This allows them to develop really strong supervisor and buddy relationships over the two weeks, and to take on more advanced work as the scheme progresses.” Barns tells us that during vacation schemes, participants can expect to do “real client work, which can include drafting memos, legal research, attending meetings and court hearings, for example.” The aim, says Barns, is to ensure that “participants get exposure to our different practice areas and members of the firm across all levels, allowing them to build their networks both professionally and personally.” If that’s sounding rather tasty, be aware that the firm gets approximately 3,000 applications, which takes the form of an online application and covering letter. From there, it’s a “video interview assessed by the graduate resourcing team” followed by “a face-to-face interview with a member of the team and one associate, plus a written assessment.”
The training contract
For those looking to score the training contract, W&C want-to-be trainees need a solid 2:1, or be on track to get one, and an AAB at A level, or equivalent. However, it’s not all about the academics and Barns tells us that “we are looking for candidates with a broad range of experiences and transferable skills that allow them to thoroughly demonstrate the competencies that we are looking for.” Rather than a one size fits all approach, Barns explains, “we actively seek out people with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences to join our equally diverse global teams.” To ensure the process is as inclusive as possible, Barns tells us the firm has several measures in place. “We use Rare Recruitment’s Contextual Recruitment System (CRS) which allows us to review every candidate application in context of their background,” Barns explains. Furthermore, the firm operates “blind recruitment whereby interviewers don’t receive a copy of the candidate’s application before, during or after the interview. This puts all candidates on a level footing during the interview process as the interviewers assess candidates against our set competencies.” The firm also has “one on one conversations with candidates who notify us that they have a disability or long-term health condition to understand any adjustments they require.”
White & Case receives around 1,500 applications for the training contract each year, and as with the vacation scheme, this starts off with a cover letter and online application form. For those applying directly, the firm “runs assessment centres, of approximately eight candidates” per assessment. These centres “include a written assessment, group business simulation, interview with one member of the Graduate Resourcing & Development team and one associate, and a networking lunch with current trainees,” Barns tells us. “Successful candidates are then invited to a training contract interview with two partners, including delivering a pre-prepared commercial presentation.”
Prior to the assessment centre and following the online application, applicants will do a video interview, where Barns tells us, “Candidates will answer three questions. They’ll have 15 seconds to prepare for each question and 90 seconds to answer. Before they answer the questions, they’ll have the opportunity to complete a practice question to help them feel more at ease.”
For direct applicants, there is also a 30-minute telephone interview with a member of the Graduate Resourcing & Development team, “and the questions focus on the competencies we look for in our trainee solicitors,” says Barns.
As with the vacation scheme, Barns says face-to-face interviews are an opportunity to meet the team, associates and partners. Barns says, “We want to hear about candidates’ experiences so far and why they’re interested in a career in law. We also want to know why they’re interested in joining White & Case.”
Whatever the route in, Barns is at pains to explain that “through our assessment and interview processes, we are looking for candidates who have real integrity, are driven to succeed, share our mindset and client focus, and those who are a demonstrated team player.”
The firm offers 50 training contracts each year, more than any other international firm in London.
White & Case LLP
5 Old Broad Street,
5 Old Broad Street,
Discover White & Case through the eyes of our people. Read more (https://inside.whitecase.com/) about our work, our people and our offer.
As a White & Case lawyer, you’ll work on fast-paced cutting-edge cross-border projects from the outset of your career. In London, our key areas of work include: debt finance (including regulatory compliance); financial restructuring and insolvency; capital markets (high yield and securitisation); dispute resolution (including antitrust, commercial litigation, intellectual property, international arbitration, trade, white collar and construction and engineering); energy, infrastructure, project and asset finance (EIPAF); corporate (including M&A, private equity, employment, compensation and benefits, investment funds, real estate and tax).
The training programme
The training contract consists of four six-month seats, one of which is guaranteed to be spent in one of our overseas offices, including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hong Kong, Helsinki, Houston, Madrid, Paris, Prague, Singapore, Stockholm and Tokyo. The remaining three seats can be spent in any one of the Firm’s practice groups in London. Receiving a high level of partner and associate contact from day one, our trainees can be confident that they will receive high-quality, stimulating and rewarding work. Trainees work in small, focused teams, so their colleagues trust them to perform tasks accurately and efficiently. White & Case is a “high-stretch, high-support” workplace that celebrates individual excellence and team success. We actively encourage our trainees to take early responsibility, and there is a strong emphasis on practical training, with plenty of support and feedback. Alongside the training contract, our trainees are encouraged to get involved in all aspects of our globally-renowned pro bono programme, often working directly with clients and even managing small matters. White & Case recruits and develops trainee solicitors with the aim of retaining them on qualification.
The deadline for training contract applications is 14 July 2024.
So you want to be a City lawyer? Taking part in one of our three annual vacation schemes is the best possible way to experience what our lawyers do every day. Try out real client work and see if our Firm is the right fit for you.
We recruit the majority of our London trainees (on average 80 percent) from our vacation schemes, with 25 participants in each intake. There’s no limit on how many training contracts we offer per scheme, so you won’t be in competition with your peers.
Wherever your career takes you, we guarantee that you’ll build skills and experience that will last:
• Do real client work: draft memorandums; write client alerts; research areas of the law; attend meetings or court hearings, for example
• Learn about different practice areas and deepen your knowledge of the law
•‘Ask Me Anything’ Q&A session with partners and associates
• Attend social events, including supervisor and buddy lunches, and fun activities such as sushi making
• Build your networks, both professionally and personally
• Receive feedback and advice on your work and performance
• As part of your training contract interview, you’ll have the opportunity to prepare a presentation on a commercial topic
Winter vacation scheme (for finalists and graduates)
Monday 4 December – Friday 15 December 2023 (the deadline to apply is 15 October 2023)
Spring vacation scheme (for penultimate-year students, finalists and graduates)
Monday 8 April – Friday 19 April 2024 (the deadline to apply is 14 January 2024)
Summer vacation scheme (for penultimate-year students, finalists and graduates) Monday 24 June – Friday 5 July 2024 (the deadline to apply is 14 January 2024)
If you’re curious about working as a City lawyer, our London office open days are a great place to find out more. You’ll learn more about White & Case, and meet our current trainees, associates and partners.
• Learn about City law
• Network with the White & Case team over lunch
• Get practical tips on how to do well in your applications and interviews
• Put your decision-making skills to the test in an interactive business game
• Speak to trainees, associates and partners about their work and our Firm
Open day dates
14 November 2023 (deadline 29 October 2023)
22 November 2023 (deadline 29 October 2023)
First-year two-day insight scheme
Attend one of our two-day insight schemes to understand more about what City law firms do and about different areas of the law. Discover what lawyers really do and see if this is a career that matches your interests and ambitions.
• Learn about White & Case
• Find out how we compare to other law firms
• Shadow one of our trainees
• Understand the day-to-day role of a trainee
• Enhance your future applications
• Meet White & Case trainees, associates and partners
• Attend networking events
Scheme 1: 8 – 9 May 2024 (deadline 31 March 2024)
Scheme 2: 15 – 16 May 2024 (deadline 31 March 2024)
White & Case Virtual Learning Programme
Our virtual learning programme offers the opportunity to gain first-hand insight into life as a White & Case trainee and experience the realities of cross-border law.
There is no cost to access the programme; it is self-paced to fit around your schedule, and no application form or legal knowledge is required. You'll gain insight into the fast-paced cutting-edge projects our lawyers and trainees work on, and gain valuable skills by undertaking true-to-life legal tasks. Participation in the learning programme will be recognised on our application forms, and it is a great way to demonstrate your interest in law and White & Case.
Wherever you are based, we want to give everyone the opportunity to get to know us.
If you're globally minded and ambitious, join our virtual learning programme here.
How to apply & deadlines
Apply online at whitecasetrainee.com
Facebook account https://www.facebook.com/whitecase?fref=ts
Video Content https://www.youtube.com/user/whitecaseglobal
This Firm's Rankings in
UK Guide, 2023
- Banking & Finance: Borrowers: Big-Ticket (Band 2)
- Banking & Finance: Lenders: Big-Ticket (Band 2)
- Banking & Finance: Sponsors (Band 3)
- Commercial and Corporate Litigation (Band 3)
- Competition Law (Band 6)
- Construction: Contentious (Band 2)
- Construction: Non-contentious (Band 3)
- Corporate/M&A: £800 million and above (Band 5)
- Financial Crime: Corporates (Band 4)
- Restructuring/Insolvency (Band 2)
- Asset Finance: Aviation Finance (Band 3)
- Banking Litigation (Band 4)
- Capital Markets: CLOs (Band 2)
- Capital Markets: Debt (Band 1)
- Capital Markets: Equity (Band 1)
- Capital Markets: High-Yield Products (Band 4)
- Capital Markets: Securitisation (Band 4)
- Capital Markets: Structured Products (Band 3)
- Commodities: Trade Finance (Band 2)
- Construction: International Arbitration (Band 1)
- Data Protection & Information Law (Band 4)
- Energy & Natural Resources: Mining: International (Band 2)
- Energy & Natural Resources: Oil & Gas (Band 1)
- Energy & Natural Resources: Power (Band 4)
- Financial Services: Non-contentious Regulatory (Band 4)
- Infrastructure (Band 1)
- International Arbitration: Commercial Arbitration (Band 2)
- International Arbitration: Investor-State Arbitration (Band 2)
- Private Equity: Buyouts: £500 million and above (Band 4)
- Projects (Band 1)
- Projects: PFI/PPP (Band 4)
- Real Estate Finance (Band 5)