Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP - True Picture - Chambers Student Guide (2023)

Morgan Lewis training contract review 2023

The Firm

Like many trainees at the US firms we speak with, our sources at ML had made a beeline for the firm precisely because of its American heritage. But ML stood out from the crowd of US outfits in the City because of its“more full-service offering – it didn’t just do corporate and finance like others.”In particular, interviewees emphasised the office’santitrust/competitionandemploymentpractices as big draws. ML is especially known in the US and globally for its prowess in employment law. The hire of a group of lawyers from Cooley in late 2020 also strengthened ML London’sIPpractice.

“ can have a laugh as you get to know everyone personally.”

At the same time, ML is a classic US firm in that it does indeed excel at corporate and finance work.Chambers UKbestows UK-wide kudos on the firm’s work with investment funds – especially private equity funds – and in London recognises the firm’s expertise in capital markets work on the securitisation side. Individual lawyers are also applauded in areas such as competition, IP, IT, employment, outsourcing, and projects.

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“I knew I would be able to work on interesting, complex cases for a variety of clients,”a trainee reflected when stating their reasons for applying to ML.“I was also drawn to thesizeof ML in the UK – I wasn’t interested in working in a huge office where I would disappear!”ML hires 6 trainees each year, so there’s plenty of room to shine for incoming candidates to show what they’re made of. Not that ML was viewed as a competitive place when interviewees applied:“What stood out to me was the emphasis the firm put on continual collaboration and it seemed non-hierarchical.”This source found this to be true in practice and confirmed that“there’s lots of collaboration at ML across all levels of seniority – this makes for an efficient working environment and means you can have a laugh as you get to know everyone personally.”

The Seats

Incoming trainees rank their seat options in order of preference alongside their reasons for wanting them. Prior to subsequent rotations, trainees can alter their top two preferences for the next seat. Thecorporate & business transactionsdepartment is a popular destination. We did hear mixed reviews of theseat allocationprocess, with some wanting more transparency:“I think business need plays its part, but also HR and the partners might have an idea of where trainees should be and whether they would fit into a particular team. It doesn’t feel like a transparent process.”With that said, we did speak to a few trainees who were content as they’d got their first choices a few times.

" was buying a platform like TikTok and wanted to be able to mint the videos so they could be NFTs.”

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ML’sdepartment handles“mid-market, international M&A deals, and we have some really interesting tech clients.”These clients, we heard, can be focused on cryptocurrencies and NFTs (non-fungible tokens):“We have clients that are trying to get into those industries, so they’re buying companies that do that stuff. One was buying a platform like TikTok and wanted to be able to mint the videos so they could be NFTs.”On these cutting-edge deals, trainees“go through the due diligence documents and help to make the report that will help the client work out if they want to buy a company. You also get to help with the drafting of share purchase agreements.”Others added that“we work for a range of US private equity clients on their buy-side acquisitions of companies in the UK and Europe. You manage document lists, take charge of the signature process, and draft clauses in documents.”Clients include Black Diamond Capital Management, OpenGate Capital, and Advanz Pharma. The group recently advised LA-based private equity firm OpenGate Capital on its carve-out acquisition of a business from European chemical company Solvay.

Thefinanceteam advises lenders, borrowers, and debt investors on various transactions, including leveraged finance deals, funds finance, and asset-based lending. There is a particular focus on emerging markets here, in areas such as the Middle East, Africa, and the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States). Lawyers here recently advised on the hedge fund financing of Selina Hospitality’s $1.2 billion merger with BOA Acquisition Corp. They also represented EnTrust Global on the financing provided to United Overseas Group for its acquisition of United Arab Chemical Carriers – the transaction spanned jurisdictions across the UK, US, and UAE.“It’s a small team that’s very social,”a trainee told us,“and they’ll take you out for lunch a lot!”Work-wise,“you get good exposure – there are opportunities to liaise with the other side on the transaction and draft smaller documents like security agreements. You review articles of association and corporate authorisations, too.”Ultimately,‘as they become more impressed with your work, the more responsibility they’ll give you.”

" get an opportunity to work with everyone – it feels like a really cohesive seat.”

ML is especially known for itsemploymentexpertise in the US, and trainees in London get to sample life in this practice.Chambers UKhighlights the department’s employer-focused work on both the advisory and contentious fronts and flags the department’s know-how in the life sciences sector. Novartis Pharmaceuticals and high-end beauty company Shiseido are on the client roster, and the group recently advised the latter on the employment aspects tied to its sale of well-known brands – Laura Mercier, Buxom, and Bare Minerals – to private equity outfit Advent.“The team is incredible,”a source enthused,“and you get an opportunity to work with everyone – it feels like a really cohesive seat.”Interviewees noted their work for clients in the food and beverage and financial services sectors:“You’re reaching out to local counsel, setting up disclosure bundles and conducting research. You get a real mix of contentious and non-contentious matters.”

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For those interested in contentious work, a stint inlitigationis available. The team handles a lot of disputes for banks, fund managers, and other financial institutions, as well as internal and external investigations. Sources told us that“there’s been a lot of work stemming from the conflict in Ukraine, so we’ve been advising clients on sanctions or the disputes that have arisen as a result of businesses breaking down. Sometimes a matter will involve an asset in Russia that a certain party wants to get back.”Others highlighted their work on various group actions and shareholder disputes.We did hear that there’s“more of an old-school attitude towards trainees from some partners,”which resulted in some basic tasks for trainees:“It was a lot of ‘Proof-read this, maintain this spreadsheet, go through these bills.’”

Trainee Life

“Partners drive theculture, which is why different teams have different vibes,”a source stated, while others agreed that the atmosphere varies between departments. For example, we’ve mentioned the perception of litigation as being more traditional, while the employment department was viewed as having a flatter hierarchy. Generally, the culture was rated favourably, with this interviewee explaining that“people are nice and willing to help – I never saw myself being a lawyer at a US BigLaw firm, but ML has made me feel that I could. It doesn’t have the stereotypical intense US firm environment that people assume it would.”

"...massive effort to get people back together this year, by hosting free events with food and drinks.”

A part of that stereotype involves a perception that trainees will work especially longhours.“The transactional seats – like corporate and finance – do have longer hours, so you could be working from 9am through until the early hours on occasion, but it depends.”Antitrust and litigation were viewed as having kinder hours, with trainees in the latter tending to wrap things up by 7pm. Interviewees noticed a pickup in activity from 1pm onwards due to the firm's heavy collaboration with the US, with this source stating:“Sometimes there can be a bit of a pinch in terms of our hours, but I’ve never experienced gruelling periods.”

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On a broader note, this trainee acknowledged that“the firm seems to genuinely care about ourwellbeing– they handled the pandemic well and have been careful not to put us at risk.”Some interviewees also praised the firm for making a“massive effort to get people back together this year, by hosting freeeventswith food and drinks.”Others felt like the trainee social budget could be upped to allow for more events throughout the year, but the firm told us there is a budget that covers socials every three months.

Supervisionalso varies by department, we heard:“Some supervisors are pretty hands-off and just want to check in once in a while, others are really hands-on.”When it comes to structuredtrainingprogrammes,“there isn't too much in the way of formal sessions, but if you’re looking for high levels of responsibility then at ML you’ll be really involved in matters and learn that way.”ML“sets out a framework for our seat appraisals, but whether that’s followed every time depends. Some people are very thorough, however.”

When we asked aboutdiversity and inclusion, interviewees had good things to say about gender representation:“The firm is run by women in the US and in London, which is really positive, and there are some great female partners across the firm.”Others highlighted particularly active initiatives and affinity groups stemming from the US. American firms are also known for their focus onpro bono, and sources told us of various opportunities that had been made available for them. We heard that two finance partners organise work that addresses domestic violence, which trainees got involved in by drafting witness statements and applying for non-molestation orders.

Sources weren’t overly clear on how thequalification processwould work, with some suggesting that communication from the firm on this point could be improved. The roles that will be available are decided by management in the US, which was felt to be a facet that clouded the transparency of the process (though we should state that this is quite a common element of the qualification process at US firms in London).“In the most recent qualification round, everyone had the opportunity to go where they wanted,”a source commented,“but in the past things haven’t always matched up like that.”In 2022, ML retained all of its qualifiers.

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What is Morgan Lewis known for? ›

Morgan Lewis is known for high-profile pro bono representations and for filing a historic amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 on behalf of 379 companies, making a business case for legalizing same-sex marriage across the country.

What is Morgan Lewis's annual revenue? ›

According to the National Law Journal's 2022 NLJ 500 ranking of firms based on size, Morgan Lewis has 1992 attorneys and is ranked 10th in the United States. With $2,745,251,000 gross revenue in 2022, the firm placed 8th on The American Lawyer's 2023 Am Law 200 ranking.

What does RPC Specialise in? ›

We offer top quality legal services across numerous sectors. Recognised as leaders in industries ranging from retail to insurance, technology to media, and well beyond, we have the expertise to handle bet-the-business litigation, complex regulatory challenges, transformational transactions and so much more.

How long do law firms take to respond? ›

Some candidates begin hearing back from firms within a day or two. For others, it may take many months. How long it will take to hear back from firms is determined by numerous factors, including: Your Credentials: Generally, the stronger your academic and firm credentials, the sooner you'll hear back.


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