Why Jones Day?
Jones Day is different. Unlike other firms where trainees rotate between firm-selected departments, Jones Day affords trainees the opportunity to explore a large variety of practice areas, both contentious and transactional. To name but a few, trainees can seek work from practices such as global disputes, mergers & acquisitions, capital markets, private equity, real estate, restructuring & insolvency, banking & finance, competition and financial regulation, as well as more specialist practices such as tax, employment and intellectual property.
Having completed my law degree in Ireland and a number of internships at other law firms, this non-rotational style of training was unlike anything I had come across before. As I discovered, the Jones Day vacation scheme (which mirrors the training contract) suits individuals who leave law school with a clear picture of practice areas which particularly interest them. Equally, it offers those who have yet to decide upon their preferred area of practice the opportunity to sample a wide variety of work over the two year training contract and before coming to a decision upon qualification. Jones Day offers a sumptuous buffet of legal experience in place of a set menu (and that's before you've even visited the on-site café!).
The highlight of my training contract thus far has got to be working with two other trainees alongside a team of litigators to prepare for a pitch to win work concerning one of the largest companies in Croatia. This involved a great deal of investigatory work, both into the affairs of the company and the actions of its owner, to uncover any potential fraudulent behaviour or questionable movement of assets. Research into foreign court records was also of key importance. It was hugely rewarding to participate in the preparatory discussions with partners, and to sit in on the pitch itself, having assisted with this such research and the preparation of the bulk of the pitch materials. This experience is a testament to the level of responsibility afforded to Jones Day trainees, even at a junior level.
I also became heavily involved in a fascinating insolvency and trust-related case at the outset of my training contract, on which I have been given increasing levels of responsibility. The background information on the case which I gleaned from initial bundle preparation, proofreading of correspondence and attendance on calls meant that I quickly found myself acutely familiar with the facts and progression of the case. This enabled me to rapidly advance into drafting client correspondence, court applications and advice notes on key legal issues, and assisting with the preparation (and some drafting) of witness statements. With the final hearing scheduled for June of this year, almost ten months from the beginning of my training contract, this is a perfect example of the opportunity Jones Day trainees are given to see matters through to the finish, rather than abandoning a case or deal at the end of a seat, and to truly see their efforts come to fruition.
This case was also the first matter I dealt with from the perspective of two different departments. Whilst the bulk of my work on the case was done with the global disputes team, I also assisted the real estate team with land registry searches in respect of the properties at the heart of the dispute. Indeed, this has been a common theme in my training contract so far; I have since assisted on both the corporate and employment teams in respect of a number of the same deals. I have found working for two or more different teams on one matter, each with differing focuses and concerns, to greatly enhance my overall understanding of a particular matter, and, therefore, the value of my contribution. Ultimately, I consider that this approach has, and will continue to, shape me into a more cognisant and commercially-aware lawyer.
A further highlight was the trainees' week-long trip to the New Lawyers Academy at Jones Day's Washington Office in October. The trip cemented strong friendships made amongst our trainee group whilst studying the (Jones Day sponsored) LPC together at BPP Law School, introduced us to new Jones Day lawyers from other offices, and gave us our first real insight into the breadth of the global community we have joined as employees of Jones Day. In that sense, trainees at Jones Day's London office have the best of both worlds. A relatively small intake of approximately 20 trainees in the London office ensures that trainees are not just viewed as "a number", and that our fellow lawyers really do take the time to get to know each of us on a personal level. Notwithstanding the close-knit atmosphere in the London office, the truly international nature of Jones Day’s work means that trainees have the benefit of learning from, and working with, remarkably talented lawyers from a huge range of jurisdictions who, together, have cemented Jones Day's formidable global reputation.
Undoubtedly, the level of independence afforded by the Jones Day style of training brings attendant challenges for new trainees. For me, the fact that I was keen to demonstrate my early interest in particular departments and to make the most of the opportunities that this training style offers meant that I was reluctant to turn work down and ended up overstretching myself. This has been a real learning curve, both for myself and my peers, who have had to quickly develop our ability to manage both time and people, and to be realistic about the amount of work we can take on. This skill is one which Jones Day partners (many of whom trained here) recognise to be of paramount importance in this system.
My one and only piece of advice would be to apply for a vacation scheme at Jones Day. The scheme offers a true snapshot of what life as a trainee at the Firm is like.
For those who find that a training contract at Jones Day is for them, the freedom they will be afforded to dictate the trajectory of their own legal training is unparalleled. For those who decide otherwise, there is no question that the emphasis on independence, enthusiasm and most of all, collegiality, which underpins life at Jones Day is a worthy takeaway for all individuals seeking to pursue a career in the legal profession.