Global firm Jones Day offers a training contract unlike any other in the City. Here newly-qualified lawyer (NQ) Tom Hodge explains why he chose Jones Day's training contract, how he found the experience, and how it's helped him in his legal career.
"Jones Day attracted me because I was very interested in the idea of a non-rotational training contract.
Also, I wanted to work for a firm with real global reach, which Jones Day has.
And after doing a vacation scheme here, where we were given real work as if we were trainees already, I knew that the training contract here was for me."
The training contract
"When you arrive, you have a comprehensive induction, and then start looking for work. It's a challenge initially, but then you start to get "repeat business" rather than having to constantly seek out new opportunities.
I spent my first six months working in a number of different areas of law. Then, seven months in, I decided I wanted to qualify in financial services regulation, and I've mainly focused on this area since.
Provided I meet Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and other firm requirements, I've been able to structure my training contract around getting the knowledge and skills I need for the area I want to qualify into."
"Over the past few years, there's been lots of new legislation relating to derivatives trading. It's a cutting-edge and international area of law, and we've been working with our New York and Brussels offices to make sure our clients, mostly investment banks, are ready for the changes.
Only a handful of firms globally are capable of advising them on the law in every relevant jurisdiction, and Jones Day is one of them.
As my knowledge has improved, I've been able to take on more responsibility and have had a lot of client contact. I was recently asked to write a detailed letter of advice. The partner reviewed it, but then sent it to the client without any amendments, which was very satisfying."
The skills I've learnt
"Prioritisation - getting the balance right between taking on enough work but not so much that you start doing a bad job. Also, negotiation and people skills.
When I first started, I went with a couple of NQs to a client meeting. They'd written a detailed memo on the client's situation, and then led the meeting to discuss it. I remember being so impressed by their skills, but now I deal with this kind of situation frequently myself."
The support I've had
"You're given as much responsibility as you can handle, but never feel overwhelmed. There's always someone more senior to go to if you need help, and you can also ask junior associates to read through something before you send it to a partner.
You have three appraisals during your training contract. This formal process is helpful, but because you're given constant feedback they only reinforce what you already know."
"I'm qualifying into the financial services department. If I'd been on a seat system, I don't think I would have considered this kind of work as I wouldn't have been keen to commit to six months of it.
But because of the way the Jones Day training contract is structured, I was able to do a bit of it, discover I enjoyed it, and then carry on doing more of it.
People tend to stay here long term, and many of our partners trained here. I can't imagine working at any other firm."