First Year Trainee (2015/16), qualified 2017 into Global Disputes
Why Jones Day?
Experiencing many areas of law before qualification is an incredibly valuable opportunity that shouldn’t be taken for granted. It was without doubt the mainspring that led me to choose London as the city and Jones Day as the law firm to kick off my legal career.
I graduated from the French legal system. There, lawyers qualify into a specific area straight out of law school based on their post-graduate law studies without truly having had the chance to experience day to day practice in their chosen area; or (perhaps more importantly) without the opportunity to explore what other areas have to offer. Had I stayed to practice Law in Paris, given my postgraduate specialisation in corporate law, I would have qualified as a Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) lawyer without ever having experienced Litigation or Banking & Finance work, which I am thoroughly enjoying. Ultimately, I fathomed that because the decision of where and how I initiate my career will not only shape it but also greatly impact my life (I was deciding what my daily experience would be for the next 40+ years), it was worth my adding two years to my postgraduate education to benefit from the UK’s “hands on” training system.
Building on this logic of maintaining my freedom of choice, forging my own path and “test-driving” my career, Jones Day’s non-rotational training contract is, without doubt, the champion of all training contracts. It would have been pointless for me to go through these additional educational hurdles just to end up being stuck for six months (or more) in a “seat” that I had no say in choosing or that turned out not to suit me.
For the above reasons, which, as far as I am concerned, should trump all others when choosing where to apply to train as a lawyer, I knew Jones Day was the right fit for me. However, it is worth saying this bespoke training system isn’t for everyone. I genuinely think you need sufficient maturity, foresight and ambition to truly understand what the teams expect of you and to take control of your own training. If the prospect of having someone supervise your every step seems reassuring, then the Jones Day way isn’t for you. Although partners and associates are more than happy to give trainees guidance and advice, they definitely aren’t here to babysit you.
At Jones Day, you need to identify the kind of lawyer you aspire to be, then start building the foundation of your career by seeking increased responsibility. You do this by taking ownership of the tasks you are delegated (however menial), by taking initiative, by starting to build client relationships (yes, it is possible and encouraged at trainee level), by identifying the teams/areas of law that are intertwined with your area(s) of interest and by doing your best to understand how their work affects yours (and vice-versa). Basically, you don’t shy away from challenges, you don’t hide away in your office waiting for people to seek you out. Instead you take the bull by its horns; you build relationships with lawyers you want to work with, you take responsibility and most of all you genuinely care about the standard of work you produce.
What’s it like day to day?
In my short time with the Firm, I have, among other matters, assisted in securing a term loan for one of our long standing clients (a fashion powerhouse) which enabled them to acquire their London headquarters. This may have been a smaller value matter for Jones Day but for this particular client it represented so much more than the acquisition of a mere building as it allowed them to claim a part of their brand’s history and tie it forevermore to this iconic building.
I was also involved (and am still) in a multimillion pound fraud Litigation which has required us to obtain worldwide freezing and search orders from the High Court of Justice. This was by far the most action-packed matter I have ever experienced and involved carrying out a 2 day stakeout, heated arguments with 300 lb security guards (don’t ask), and working alongside private investigators, forensic experts and Queen’s Counsel. If you thought being a lawyer meant a quiet and peaceful desk job – think again!
Perhaps less eventfully but surely as interestingly, I am currently involved in a large corporate group reorganisation for another long standing client which requires me to juggle Finance, Real Estate, Litigation and of course Corporate tasks on a daily basis. I don’t know of another training system which would have given me the chance (working directly with the lead partner) to be at the forefront of all these aspects of this reorganisation.
Although Jones Day’s training system is not for the faint hearted (and you will hear that said often), I believe you get as much out of it as you put in; and moreover, it truly allows you to evolve fast as a lawyer in a friendly, appreciative and inartificial environment. So if any of the above seems appealing, I highly recommend applying for the Jones Day placement scheme which essentially mirrors the first two weeks of your training contract with the Firm.