Ashurst may not be the biggest law firm in London, but it’s regarded as a real alternative to the Magic Circle on M&A and manages to win some pretty tasty work.
An exciting and quickly evolving place to be.
- Excellent formal and on-the-job training
- Partners and associates are very approachable, all views are welcomed
- Great international opportunities
- Top quality clients and high-profile cases
- Good level of exposure to the best work for trainees
- Hours can be exhausting at times
- No bonuses for trainees since the recession
- Unequal distribution of work
- No specific mentoring programme
Regarded as a genuine alternative to the Magic Circle on M&A, Ashurst bolsters this successful practice with one of Europe’s top private equity departments. Though smaller than the majority of its rivals, the firm’s brand stretches out across the continent, with its reputation particularly strong amongst financial institutions. The firm deals with high-profile international transactions and works with big-name clients such as J.P. Morgan, Citi and Nomura. Ashurst is one of the City’s oldest law firms and even spawned the M&A giant Slaughter and May – training and developing both of its founders.
Founded in 1822 by William Ashurst, the firm was known as Ashurst Morris Crisp until rebranding efforts in 2003. With liquidation specialist John Morris and flotation expert Sir Frank Crisp on board, the trio built a firm renowned for its work with financial institutions and corporations. Throughout the 1980s, Ashurst was one of the first firms to take an interest in private equity and consequently was a forerunner in advising on major leveraged buyouts.
Besides its lucrative private equity practice, M&A reputation and litigation prowess, Ashurst is known as a full-service firm – capable of almost anything and everything that its clients require. While Ashurst may miss out on some marquee deals to the Magic Circle, the firm has a broad list of heavy-weight clients including Deutsche Telekom, Mitsubishi Corporation, Morrison’s, National Express, P&O Stena Line, RBS, Virgin and William Hill.
Ashurst maintains its premier league position both in the UK market and internationaly with a fraction of the associates its rivals possess. The firm’s international scope was, however, an area in which Ashurst fell short of its main rivals, and in the 1990s a merger was a major consideration in plugging this gap. However the partners ultimately decided to forgo this expansion strategy and instead retain the Ashurst brand and culture. The firm opted to augment its international network through an alliance with US firm McKee Nelson (acquired since by Bingham McCutchen in July 2009), and a structure of ‘best friends’ firms overseas.
The past few years have seen new offices open in Hong Kong, Washington DC and Rome, and Ashurst is one of the few UK law firms to have a New York office. In March 2012, Ashurst combined its Asian practice with that of Blake Dawson, one of Australia's leading law firms. Blake Dawson has also rebranded as Ashurst Australia and in 2014, the plan is for the two firms to merge and become a premier global firm.
Ashurst has a renowned altruistic outlook – with a strong commitment to pro bono and work in the community – believing it should give something back to the areas in which it operates. The firm’s corporate social responsibility programme – which covers community involvement, diversity, place to work and environmental initiatives – helps to integrate its social concerns with its day-to-day operations, dealings with clients and the wider community. Ashurst solicitors run reading and number programmes in local primary schools, pro bono advice is offered to CARE International and the Disability Law Service, and the firm represents prisoners on death row in Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago.Read all 323 employee quotes
Although the firm casts a wide net when recruiting graduates, the majority of trainees at Ashurst tend to come from the top UK universities, as well as a handful of overseas ones. However, the firm is keen to hire people from diverse backgrounds with the current trainees having attended 39 different universities between them. Those without a law degree wishing to compete for a place can breathe a sigh of relief as Ashurst accepts graduates of all disciplines, providing you get a strong 2:1 or above.
While a strong academic background is expected, the firm is interested in more than a track-record of academic achievement. Ashurst wants to get a feel for the person beneath the schooling so emphasis is placed on well-rounded individuals with personality, social skills, extra-curricular activities and a sense of humour. The list of qualities the firm looks for is long, but communication skills are a definite must as trainees are expected to interact with clients and colleagues on a regular basis. With 25 offices abroad, the firm also looks for people who can bring an international outlook to the firm. Foreign languages are a plus so it’s definitely worth brushing up on your linguistic skills.
Lateral hires also face a two-step interview process. The first addresses the candidate’s technical knowledge and is normally held by two partners within the applicant’s chosen field. The second focuses on character and allows the candidate to meet their potential colleagues, giving both parties the chance to see if the shoe fits.
For undergraduates keen to experience working life at Ashurst before applying for a training contract, the firm offers three placement schemes a year. A two-week spring scheme is available for graduates and final year non-law students, whereas the three-week summer schemes consist of two intakes and are mainly for second-year law students. As an added bonus, all students on the Ashurst summer schemes get the opportunity to visit the firm's office in Paris for the day. Remember to apply early as applications are considered between November and January each year, with places often filling before the deadline.
Ashurst Graduate Recruitment Info
Graduate Recruitment and Development Manager
Tel: +44(0)20 7859 2381
Training Contracts: 31st July 2013
Vacation Schemes: 15th January 2013
No. of lawyers firm-wide: 1,700+
No. of lawyers in London: 500+
Trainee intake: 40
Trainees retained: 83% (Sept 2012), 87% March 2012, 92% (overall 2011)
Approx. no. of applications per year: 2,000+
1st year trainee: £38,000
2nd year trainee: £43,000
Newly qualified: £61,000
Competition & EU law
Data Protection & Privacy
Employment, Incentives & Pensions
Environmental, Health & Safety
Public International Law
Restructuring & Special Situations
Offices are fine. It would be good to have a gym on site though. Dress code is smart but relaxed - I rarely wear a suit and don't often see men in ties, (unless meeting a client).First year trainee, londonHelpful?
When I applied a few years ago, I did a vacation scheme, submitted a CV and a cover letter and got the job. The vacation scheme itself acted as the interview. The process has changed now but there are still fewer (often unnecessary) hoops to jump through than there are at other firms.Second year trainee, DubaiHelpful?
It doesn't usually stay stressful for long periods of time though! After 2 weeks of stress (e.g. around completion), things usually calm down again.First year trainee, LondonHelpful?
I've felt very comfortable within the firm since I've been here and have had the opportunity to work on some great transactions.Second year trainee, LondonHelpful?
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5 Appold Street
London EC2A 2HA
Tel: +44 (0)20 7638 1111
No. of worldwide offices: 24
The firm also has an associated office in Jakarta, Indonesia.