Few firms employ as many lawyers worldwide as DLA Piper. Augmenting its international network of offices with a number of alliance firms, DLA Piper has over 4,200 lawyers spread across more than 30 countries.
- High-profile clients and quality international work outside of London
- Large global network with lots of secondment opportunities
- Responsibility and hands-on work for trainees
- Committed to diversity, with a newly established Women’s Network
- Constant training opportunities
- Good trainee retention
- Few firm-wide social events
- Regional salary far behind London
- Lack of communication and feedback at times
- Edinburgh and Glasgow treated as one office – trainees in Scotland may face long commutes
- Unsociable hours
DLA Piper has grown from its regional roots in Sheffield and Leeds to become one of the largest law firms in the world. Formed in January 2005 – following a triple merger between the UK’s DLA, Chicago-based Piper Rudnick, and California’s Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich – DLA Piper became the first firm with more than 1,000 lawyers on each side of the Atlantic.
Not one to rest on its laurels, DLA Piper has continued its expansion by acquiring entire departments from rival firms and merging with Australian firm DLA Phillips Fox – it now has over 4,200 lawyers across more than 30 countries. Make no mistake: DLA Piper is a true giant in global law. Some of its newer offices include Berlin, Mexico City and Seoul, and the firm has entered into exclusive alliances with numerous firms worldwide – including alliances with practices across Africa and Latin America.
In its history, DLA Piper has proved to be a forerunner in various matters being one of the first firms to structure itself on a corporate model and to embrace the concept of lateral hiring. Additionally, the firm pioneered the custom of publicly releasing its annual profits and revenues, which might not seem like a big deal today, but was practically unheard of at the time. Unlike many international rivals, DLA Piper has seven UK offices in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Sheffield.
DLA Piper regularly ranks in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers, and its commitment to diversity issues has seen the firm receive acknowledgment for its support of women in business. The firm also has a strong commitment to corporate responsibility, with its staff worldwide spending more than 220,000 hours on pro bono causes in 2012. Initiatives include supporting aid and educational programmes for women in Central America, while back in the UK, the firm’s Leeds offices has built up a strong reputation for offering asylum advice.Read all 185 employee quotes
DLA Piper has around 80 training contracts available each year across its UK offices, and receives 3,000 to 4,000 applications for those places. So, what are the requirements for getting one of these training contracts? One current trainee says that you ‘should be intelligent and have a wide range of interests. Candidates need to be good with people, confident and able to use their initiative,’ or in the words of another trainee, ‘the firm is down-to-earth and so are its people’.
The firm does not appear to recruit from a set number of universities and a mix of law and non-law graduates make up the trainee intake. Nonetheless, good academic achievement is expected and DLA Piper requires candidates to have a minimum of ABB at A-Level and a 2:1 degree. As always, a keen interest in the corporate world, a good dose of enthusiasm, an eagerness to learn and ‘a keen eye for detail’ are very helpful.
The training contract at DLA Piper requires trainees to undertake four six-month seats in any of the firm’s departments which are corporate, employment, finance and projects, IPT litigation and regulatory, real estate, restructuring and tax. The specific seats available will vary slightly depending on the office you’re training in, for example the London office has specialist finance seats such as asset finance and debt finance. There are opportunities to do a seat abroad, and recent overseas secondments have included Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney and Moscow, as well as Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The firm also offers a number of UK client secondments. Current DLA Piper trainees say that they ‘are given a large amount of client contact in all departments’ so expect ‘responsibility from the start’ and exposure to ‘high profile deals’.
If all of this sounds alluring to you, consider which office you want to train in and send off the online application form. If you're applying for a training contract, the next stage is a first interview; make it through this and you’ll attend an assessment day – usually held in September. The day includes a presentation, written exercises and a second interview. The interviewers vary and might include a partner or a member of the graduate recruitment team. Trainees said that the ‘interview questions were quite tough’, but you’re made to ‘feel as relaxed as possible’. Additionally, ‘questions at the interview were not designed to 'trick', but were designed to see what your expectations of being a lawyer are’.
You can expect to be asked about your educational background and interests, and to be tested on your commercial acumen. Make sure you know your academic history in detail, and take a few minutes to think about why you have applied, why you are interested in law and what about DLA Piper in particular appeals to you. One trainee also states that ‘evidence of researching the firm inside out’ will help. After the interview, you can look forward to a tour of the office and a coffee with a current trainee.
For those interested in getting a first glimpse into the firm, DLA Piper offers approximately 130 vacation scheme places which usually run over the summer across their UK offices. The schemes last for two weeks and you will sit with two different departments and be fully immersed into life at DLA Piper. You will be given real work to do, in addition to taking part in work shadowing, court visits, bespoke presentations and group activities and social events with trainees. You should be aware that you need to apply for a scheme in the office where you’d choose to apply for a training contract.
You need to apply online, and if successful are invited to an assessment day where you’ll take part in a business game with fellow candidates. Get onto a scheme, and you’ll find towards the end there is an assessment day for the training contract which involves various tasks and an interview with two partners. One current trainee describes this interview as ‘formal with questions surrounding scenarios, client situations, and what I had learnt on the vacation scheme’.
DLA Piper Graduate Recruitment Info
No. of lawyers firm-wide: 4,630
No. of lawyers in the UK: 980
London partners: 140
London solicitors: 230
Trainee intake in the UK: 80
Trainees retained: 83% (2012)
Approx. no. of applications per year: 3,800
1st year trainee: £37,000
2nd year trainee: £40,000
Newly qualified: £60,000
English Regional Offices
1st year trainee: £25,000
2nd year trainee: £27,000
Newly qualified: £37,000
1st year trainee: £22,000
2nd year trainee: £24,000
Newly qualified: £34,000
Antitrust & EU Competition
Employment, Pensions & Benefits
Litigation & Arbitration
Projects & Infrastructure
Regulatory & Government Affairs
Technology & Media
White Collar, Corporate Crime & Investigations
A connection to an office is needed, unless applying for London. Commercial awareness is a big buzz word for interviews. There are certain requirements for A-level grades and a 2:1 at university.First year trainee, SheffieldHelpful?
The working environment is very open and non-hierarchical with an "open-door" policy. Most people sit in an office of two so there is always someone on hand to ask for help and guidance. Trainees do offer support to each other and socialise together. The firm has a social club and regularly organises events. The trainees regularly organise informal events too.Second year trainee, LiverpoolHelpful?
I record anything between about 40 and 65, but that never accounts for every minute spent at work does it? On the whole I'm working the amount I expected and, at times, a bit less.First year trainee, LeedsHelpful?
We get subsidised Starbucks and canteen in the office, 20% off at local bars and discounted taste cards for 50% off in restaurants nationally. We also have a paid-for membership to the JLD in Leeds which gets us into events including Christmas balls, wine tasting evenings and casino nights, etc.First year trainee, LeedsHelpful?
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