Davis Polk & Wardwell
Boasting one of the world’s finest and most comprehensive corporate departments, Davis Polk & Wardwell has finance coursing through its veins. The firms London based lawyers are involved in some of the biggest deals on the Continent, especially when it comes to mergers and acquisitions.
- Lots of responsibility as part of a small intake
- A great deal of exposure to international work
- Very high trainee and NQ salaries
- Trainees can go on secondment to New York
- Prestige and stellar clients
- Talented and intelligent colleagues
- Hires very few people in London so it’s very competitive
- Hours can be extremely long at times
- Low partnership prospects in London due to the small size of the office
- Expect a heavy workload
Davis Polk & Wardwell first opened its doors in 1849 in New York, making it amongst the oldest law firms in the US. The firm has finance coursing through its veins, with one of the world’s finest corporate departments. The capital markets, M&A, bankruptcy and tax practices are all standout. Last but certainly not least, the firm’s litigation practice is likewise revered, thanks in large part to its founding partner, John Davis, who, over the course of his long and illustrious career, argued numerous cases before the US Supreme Court.
The firm takes its current name from three 20th century partners: John W. Davis, Frank Polk, and Allen Wardwell. The trio recognised early on the growing importance of corporate work and developed close ties between the firm and the J.P. Morgan companies, for example, helping Morgan restructure the Pennsylvania Railroad and knit together several electrical companies to create General Electric.
Over the course of the last few decades Davis Polk has established offices in major centres across the globe: first Paris in 1962, followed by London in 1973, and then three Asian outposts in Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo. The most recent addition was the firm’s first Latin American office in São Paulo in 2011.
In 2012 Davis Polk added English law capabilities to its London office, and consistently ranks among the City’s top law practices. The firm has positioned itself as one of the main go-to outfits for the world’s equity and security underwriters and issuers – and London, as its largest international office, plays a pivotal role. In addition, the London office, which is also the firm’s European headquarters, regularly secures some of Europe’s largest M&A deals. If that wasn’t enough, the City office advises on US financing techniques to European technology firms in cross-border capital markets and private equity deals. And whenever the work requires local legal input and expertise, Davis Polk works with a network of so-called ‘best friends’: law firms that do not compete directly.
The pro bono programme at the firm is well-established and something to behold: many lawyers volunteer for bar associations, charities, and educational or religious organisations. Davis Polk funds a permanent summer fellowship at the Sanctuary for Families Centre for Battered Women’s Legal Services, in honour of a former associate who worked closely with the group. London solicitors have done non-legal work with the His Majesty the Prince of Wales’ Trust and community-based charities, working closely with lawyers from other US firms.
Davis Polk launched its UK law practice in London in 2012; the office had previously practiced only US law. As the firm’s European headquarters, the London office started a training programme to go with its new English law capabilities. Still in its infancy, the programme currently has a small annual intake of 4 to 6 trainees.
To apply for one of these elusive training contracts, you need to email your CV and cover letter to the graduate recruitment team at the firm. You’ll also have to provide detailed information on your academic results.
Those who do manage to get themselves a training contract with Davis Polk can expect to rotate through several different practice areas during the two-year period and will be assigned a senior lawyer as a mentor. All trainees have the opportunity to go on secondment to the firm’s headquarters in New York for 3 months.
Davis Polk will also be running vacation schemes in June and July. Students will get to work on international deals for real clients as well as take part in training and social events at the firm, all while earning a not too shabby £500 a week.
Graduate Recruitment Info
Training Contracts: 31st July 2013
Vacation Schemes: 31st January 2013
No. of lawyers firm-wide: 770+
No. of lawyers in London: 30+
London Partners: 8
London Associates: 25+
London trainee intake: 4 – 6
1st year trainee: £50,000
2nd year trainee: £55,000
Newly qualified: £100,000
Executive Compensation & Employee Benefits
Insolvency & Restructuring
Mergers & Acquisitions
Trusts & Estates