Welcome to Allen & Overy. I hope you find this graduate website useful in helping you to decide whether a career in commercial law is right for you and, if so, whether this is the right firm for you. These are big decisions and I encourage you to do as much research as you can and take advantage of the opportunities to gain first-hand experience.
At Allen & Overy, we provide a number of different programmes and opportunities for you to gain some of this experience, and crucially give you the flexibility and the choice as to whether you do work experience with us or apply directly for a Training Contract. Through A&O First – our programme for first-years – and our Open Day and Vacation Schemes, you have the option to explore the role of a lawyer and develop your understanding of the firm. Alternatively, we allow anyone from their penultimate year of study onwards the option of applying directly for a Training Contract – half of A&O’s trainees have not done work experience at our firm before they secured a role with us.
Looking through this website, you’ll see a law firm that is at the very forefront of legal practice, helping to shape the future of the profession and finding new ways to support high-profile and global clients in executing the decisions that will shape their future.
You’ll also find a diverse group of people who are extremely committed, and who enjoy working together as a team for the benefit of our clients. It sounds obvious, but one of the defining qualities of our firm is the spirit our people bring to their work. We thrive on the challenges of an intensely competitive business landscape and we enjoy helping clients to be successful.
When I joined Allen & Overy as a trainee, the focus was on technical excellence and intellectual calibre. Those qualities are still vital, but today the role of the lawyer has evolved. There is a much stronger focus on business and commercial sense and on playing a role within a team that will almost certainly comprise lawyers from other jurisdictions and require you to work as an extension of the clients’ own team.
Today, virtually every piece of work we handle is won through relationship building and competitive pitching. So, in recruiting trainees, we are looking for evidence of entrepreneurial drive – a desire to join us in building our business – and an appetite to take advantage of the opportunities careers here offer. Alongside that we are looking for a global mind-set and innovation – an ability to see beyond what’s been done before – resilience and teamwork. These are the qualities that you will need to be successful, over and above raw intellect and technical excellence.
Our commitment to you is to provide the best possible legal and business grounding; and the opportunity to work alongside experts in their field, who will support you, encourage you and value your individuality, enabling you to excel.
The best advice I can offer you right now is: do your research and come and meet us.
Graduate Recruitment Partner
A lawyer for tomorrow
Although the role of an Allen & Overy lawyer has developed significantly in recent years, our profession is set for further dramatic change.
While the fundamental qualities required for a successful career remain the same, the lawyers of the future will also have to develop a new portfolio of skills.
Being a lawyer, particularly at a firm like Allen & Overy, means advising clients on the most significant matters affecting their business. Doing it well means delivering technically excellent and commercially astute advice. In itself, this is no mean feat. However in today’s economy, clients demand better value, even greater expertise and lower costs. At the same time, the issues on which they need advice are becoming more complex and more international. The role of a lawyer – and the range of skills required to fulfil it – is constantly evolving.
Adapting to clients
These days, we require lawyers who are not only able to deal with the increasing complexity of issues that our clients face, but who are also able to apply a range of skills to a variety of situations and across multiple jurisdictions. Advising a Chinese client on an M&A transaction in the telecoms sector requires a different style and tone to working with an Australian mining firm. As a lawyer, that ability to switch seamlessly between different transaction types and client cultures is crucial to developing trust and credibility, and forming strong relationships.
The role of a trainee
Joining the firm as a trainee, you will have an important role to play. Most tasks you handle will not only support your team to deliver expert advice, but will also add significant value to our clients. Your team will also help you to understand the commercial nature of the work we do, which will be critical to your success as a lawyer at our firm. You may, for example, be asked to set up the companies required for a transaction structure, to liaise with the other offices advising on a deal or complete the first draft of documents for a transaction.
In addition, there’s always research to be done, which supports the work of your team. You will have a supervisor – a partner or senior associate – who will always be willing to answer questions so that you have everything you need to contribute in a meaningful way, and to help you learn and develop throughout the deal. They will recognise your successes and highlight where you can improve, meaning that you are in a strong position to take on new challenges as you approach rotation. Your supervisor will set high standards and expect you to exceed them.
The practice of commercial law has changed in recent years, especially for our largest clients. Over 60% of our income now comes from outside the UK, and a large proportion of our work involves more than two offices. While our lawyers and trainees experienced some form of international exposure in the past, it is now an everyday occurrence; last year we placed hundreds of people on both long and short term international secondments.
Our response to the increasingly cross-border nature of transactions has been to develop an integrated global network of offices run by people who embody our international ethos. Since 2011, we have extended our network by 25%, most recently opening offices in Belfast, Washington D.C., Jakarta, Casablanca, Istanbul, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Myanmar, Barcelona, Johannesburg and most recently, Seoul. We now have 44 offices in 31 countries around the world and together with our partnership of over 200 global law firms we havea truly global presence covering all but 1% of the global economy. Part of your role as a trainee will be liaising with colleagues in other offices, drawing together the local expertise and country-specific capabilities of different teams to provide a seamless service to our clients. Collaboration across borders and between offices is at the heart of our offer and we look for individuals who embrace this principle.
International travel is now commonplace and the mobility of our people, whether working on a specific deal or relationship, or taking up an international secondment, has become increasingly important. We expect our lawyers to spend time in other offices around our network and experience shows that when they do, the different experiences and perspectives they gain are not only valuable to the firm as a whole but also to them as individuals in terms of career development. These days, having a global mind-set has become an essential part of the role.
Finally, we are and always will be a firm that puts our clients first. Our success stems from the relationships we build and the quality of the support that we give clients to help them meet their strategic objectives, not just as lawyers but as trusted advisers. Underpinning all of this is our people. Establishing strong relationships is about being interested and being interesting; it’s about establishing empathy and trust – both of which come down to personality as well as professional excellence. Allen & Overy is a collection of interesting and curious individuals who are alert and alive to opportunities to help our clients and who are genuine team-players, excited by building new relationships, and strengthening existing ones. These are the qualities we look for in the Allen & Overy lawyers of tomorrow.
Following an extensive consultation with partners and staff across the world, we have distilled our global strategy into a bold but simple ambition – to be at the forefront of change, setting precedents, not only for the legal market but also for our clients.
Allen & Overy has developed a track record of innovation and firsts. From international expansion into new and established markets, to introducing part-time partnerships and creating a 320-jurisdiction comparative law database, we are comfortable taking the lead within our profession.
Becoming ‘the world’s most-advanced law firm’ is more than an attractive phrase; it is an organising principle – an idea that everyone within the firm can use to shape and drive their work and the way they do it. From our Senior Partner to the newest of our trainees, regardless of the task at hand, we have challenged our people to ask themselves “Am I really doing this in the most advanced way possible?” By addressing this question, we aim to hardwire innovation throughout our firm. Through our Innovation Panel, we also encourage and empower all of our people. Allen & Overy employees can propose innovations and ideas and, if approved, our Panel provides the support to implement them.
We are also pioneering new ways for our talented lawyers to use their skills and experience to work outside of the traditional legal career framework. For example, we have launched a number of businesses that provide legal services to clients in alternative and innovative ways. Peerpoint offers excellent lawyers, including alumni of the firm, the opportunity to work on Allen & Overy deals – directly with our clients – on a contract basis, offering individuals more flexibility than a traditional employment relationship. Aosphere, another of our businesses, provides opportunities for securities-focused lawyers to deliver online subscription-based services to compliance and risk. You can learn more about our innovative culture and advanced delivery here.
And this relentless pursuit of advanced thinking is working: already we have featured in the top three of the Financial Times’ Innovative Lawyer Awards – more times than any other firm – and won the award in 2007, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
Global reach, local depth
The firm’s global footprint is perhaps the most obvious external expression of our commitment to taking bold action and following our own path. Globalisation is the overriding theme of business today, and allied to that is the arrival and growth of new players in the world economy. Much of what we do as a firm is connected with the flow of capital around the world.
Our strategy is to put ourselves at both the source and destination of capital, as well as in the financial centers through which it passes.
We believe that to handle the biggest matters and work on the most interesting deals, we have to build a reputation that resonates with globally-minded companies. In order to achieve this, we have set out to offer global reach and local depth; to seamlessly combine presence in key international locations, with the expertise of a deeply rooted local law firm. The balance of our revenues reflects this change of emphasis: around 73% of our work now involves two or more countries and 26% involves five or more countries.
In addition to our network of offices in 31 countries, we have invested heavily in an extensive network of relationship firms, which means we routinely operate in a further 118 countries where we have no offices of our own.
This enables us to offer clients a complete global service at the very highest level, on laws and regulations relating to more than 270 jurisdictions. We estimate that the number of jurisdictions not covered by our international network represents less than 1% of the world’s economy.
In the last nine years – since the global financial crisis first hit – Allen & Overy has opened 19 offices. This counter-cyclical investment has focused largely on high-growth markets, markets that now account for an 18% share of the firm’s global business. Not surprisingly, India and China feature prominently in the firm’s plans and we are actively recruiting in these territories.
But globalisation is not an end in itself. Instead, it is the boldest expression of our commitment to innovation – a response to a fast-changing commercial landscape. There are others. In fact, innovation in our business takes many forms, from delivering imaginative structures for headline deals to developing efficiencies for our clients through e-business and commoditising some services.
There can be no doubt that the practice of law, and the expectations of clients are changing. By embedding advanced thinking throughout our firm, and being prepared to move first and go beyond what has been done before, we are ensuring that we are ready to tackle whatever the future holds. For aspiring lawyers thinking about joining Allen & Overy, that means that you will be offered the best possible grounding in law and business and will be someone whose qualities and experience are recognised and valued around the world.