Shearman & Sterling
Shearman & Sterling is one of the world’s leading law firms, serving the domestic and cross-border needs of an impressive roster of clients. The firm has been in London since 1972, and is considered one of the most anglicised of all the American firms in the City.
Innovative, exciting, understanding.
- Small team of trainees, working on big deals, with real hands on responsibility
- Partners show appreciation for the work you do and take a real interest in trainee development
- High quality deals and clients with lots of international work
- Strong culture of pro bono work
- Long, long work hours: you may have to cancel weekend and holiday plans
- Bonus system is unclear and pay is on the low end of the scale for a US firm
Training Contract: As one of only 15 trainees, Shearman & Sterling offers the opportunity for trainees to really get involved and become part of the team from the moment they join the firm. Sharing an office with a partner or senior associate, trainees become an integral part of the deals they work on, which typically involve an international and cross-jurisdictional element. We look for trainees who have consistently performed well in their academic careers (2:1 and AAB at a-level/international equivalent), and who have shown an interest in activities outside of their studies. An ability to work well in a team and have demonstrated strong communication skills are really valued in our future trainees.Studying law is not a requirement. We have a mixture of law and non-law graduates who have all excelled in their training contracts.
When to apply: 01 January – 31 July 2013 for training contracts starting in 2015.
Salary: £39,000 for first years, £40,500 for second years, £78,000 on qualification
Vacancies: We recruit 12 – 15 trainees each year
Find Out More
With approximately 900 lawyers in 20 offices across Europe, the US, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, Shearman & Sterling is one of the world’s leading law firms – serving the domestic and cross-border needs of an impressive roster of clients. The firm has approximately 150 solicitors in London and has a complete full-service office that advises on all types of deals for its global clients.
A New York-based outfit by lineage, the firm is now truly global in nature. It expanded overseas relatively early, opening its first foreign office in Paris, in 1963. Shearman opened shop in London in 1972, celebrating 40 years in London in 2012. The London office has a significant majority of English-qualified partners and the firm has mostly ditched the US-centric approach to billable hours or career development that still dogs some of its rivals. As a consequence it is considered one of the most anglicised of all the American firms in town.
Shearman & Sterling was founded in 1873, by Thomas Shearman and John William Sterling, who concentrated on litigation and transactional matters respectively. The young firm played a significant role in the financing of the US railroads and other infrastructure as well as in the banking industry – cultivating a number of important business ties that would evolve into long-standing client relationships – such as with the predecessor bank to Citigroup. In post-war Germany, Shearman & Sterling assisted German companies, such as Siemens and BASF, restructure their debts and re-emerge as credible exporters to the US. The firm was even given the moniker, ‘German & Sterling’, for its ability to cultivate long-term client relationships with blue chip German companies.
The aim of the firm venturing into London was to act for European companies when they were listing or raising money on the US stock markets. This US securities work was Shearman’s way into UK corporates, such as BT, and brought the firm a reputation with American investment banks – so crucial to the success of any serious City law firm.
Primarily known for its extensive domestic and global M&A and financing, other well-regarded divisions include international arbitration. Shearman’s specialist UK practices are structured finance, projects, capital markets and M&A. The London office acts for major corporations and global banks such as Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley.
Gone is the divide between US and English qualified lawyers; whereas the firm used to keep them apart in London, it now operates a twinned approach of selling integrated US and UK advice to clients. Being a US firm, there are US lawyers, but the office is peopled by enough English solicitors that it has a feel much like any other major English law firm – albeit on a smaller scale. The office’s relatively modest size does however allow much more hands-on involvement for trainees in terms of the work, access to parnters and client involvement. The firm has developed trainees for over 10 years and prides itself on a reputation of focusing on organic growth with targeted lateral hires.
In terms of pro bono, there are opportunities for all the firm’s London lawyers to get involved, and there is a reading scheme at a local primary school and a mentoring programme with a senior school academy. . Shearman & Sterling represents a mix of individuals and not-for-profit organisations and firm-wide its lawyers spent 48,000 hours in total on pro bono matters in 2011. Most importantly, all lawyers are free to choose what kind of pro bono work they want to do.
Shearman & Sterling has run a training programme in London for over a decade. With around 120 legal staff employed in the firm’s UK office, the annual trainee intake is relatively small – 12 to 15 commence their training contracts each September. While this makes competition undoubtedly fierce, successful candidates should be pleased to hear that the firm’s retention rates are high with over 80% of trainees retained in 2011 and 2012.
Seats run for six months, with at least two of the three compulsory seats of global finance, European corporate and project development and finance. Most trainees end up with their preferences throughout their training contract because of the small intake. Due to the firm’s international presence, secondments are also available for Shearman & Sterling trainees in a number of their foreign offices such as: Abu Dhabi, Brussels, New York, Singapore or Tokyo.
Aspiring lawyers need to demonstrate various key skills – and Shearman & Sterling looks for commercial acumen and a strong academic background in its applicants. You need to be a confident communicator, pay attention to detail and feel happy about taking on a lot of responsibility.
If all of this sounds good to you, fill in the online application form and expect an online psychometric test to follow if you are invited to an interview. You’ll then have an interview with HR and a senior lawyer. If successful, you will be invited to an assessment centre, where there will be a group exercise and a senior lawyer/partner interview.
While this is likely to be challenging, remember to stay focused and relaxed during the interview. Preparation is essential, so make sure you know the firm, your reasons for applying and your CV very well. In the words of one current Shearman & Sterling trainee, “potential candidates should ask themselves three questions: Why Shearman? Why this type of law? Why them?”.
A good way to increase your chances of gaining a training contract at Shearman & Sterling is to take part in one of their summer schemes. There are 30 places a year and they run for two weeks in June and July. The scheme is designed to give potential applicants the chance to see what life as a trainee at the firm would be like. You’ll be assigned to one particular practice group and will get to do some real work, as well as be introduced to the social side of the firm.
Shearman & Sterling Graduate Recruitment Info
Graduate Recruitment Team
Summer Scheme: 31st January 2013
Training Contracts: 31st July 2013
No. of lawyers firm-wide: 900
No. of lawyers in London: 154
Associates (includes Counsel): 100
London trainee intake: 12-15
London trainees retained: 87.5% (2012)
Approx. no. of applications per year: 700
SHEARMAN & STERLING: 2013 LAW RANKINGS
# 16 Most Reputable Law Firm (6.76/10)
# 1 in Overall Satisfaction (9.00/10)
# 2 in Satisfaction with Work (8.63/10)
# 3 in Salary (8.83/10)
# 3 in Informal Training & Mentoring (8.67/10)
# 3 in Selectivity (8.86/10)
# 3 in Culture (8.75/10)
# 7 in Trainee Retention (7.83/10)
1st year trainee: £39,000
2nd year trainee: £40,500
Newly qualified: £78,000
1 year PQE: £88,000
2 years PQE: £95,000
3 years PQE: £108,000
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Can sometimes be too much. Can often be between a rock and a hard place with partners wanting you to work and training demanding you attend.First year trainee, LondonHelpful?
They can be very unpredictable, and at times you could have nothing to do all afternoon and have something land on your desk at 6pm. People obviously try to avoid this, but it's expected in this sort of job. When it is crunch time, hours can be bad, but if there is a lull, no one expects you to hang around for the sake of it and you are encouraged to leave early while you can!Second year trainee, LondonHelpful?
Big variety - I've been lucky and done lots of different things but others have had a more limited experience during their seats so far.First year trainee, LondonHelpful?
Be able to use my out of office.1 yr PQEHelpful?
9 Appold Street
London EC2A 2AP
Tel: +44 (0)207 655 5000
No. of worldwide offices: 20