Simpson Thacher & Bartlett
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett is the most profitable US law firm operating in the UK. Although rated highly in M&A, banking and capital markets, the firm has a more versatile operation than its competitors, with strong practices in private equity and litigation.
- Challenging, prestigious and high-profile work
- Lots of responsibility from the start
- The pay is very generous and top of the market amongst the US firms
- Friendly, small and social office
- Independence and flexibility over your work hours as long as you get the work done on time
- There is not much mentoring unless you seek it out
- It is common to have to work weekends
- Limited formal training
- Firm decisions are made in New York so do not get the chance to participate
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett is the most profitable US law firm operating in the UK, maintaining its enviable position with one London office and a staff of approximately 70 lawyers. Although rated highly in M&A, banking and capital markets, Simpson Thacher has a more versatile operation than its competitors, with strong practices in private equity and litigation.
The firm was founded by three Alexander & Green law clerks, in 1884 – Columbia graduates John W Simpson, Thomas Thacher and William M Barnum – initially as Simpson Thacher & Barnum. The firm forged its reputation in US law through its work for industrial organisations – from railroad to mining companies. And by the end of the First World War, Simpson Thacher was representing clients in Europe, Asia and South America.
Making its European bow, in 1978, with the opening of its London office, Simpson Thacher has since refrained from expanding further on the Continent. Initially, the firm’s solitary European office was only staffed with US qualified lawyers, calling upon regional experts to assist in specifics as and when the work required. Simpson Thacher operated in this fashion for over 20 years; however, in 2002 this all changed. Up until this point, the US secondment could only act as a general counsel, but now, with its UK reinforcements, it can advise on the local issues of its clients’ transactions. As yet, Simpson Thacher has eschewed full English corporate capability, believing it can serve its clients best by teaming up with other European firms. But it still remains a possibility – one that its competitors are all too fearfully aware of.
Although reluctant to expand further in Europe, this doesn’t fairly represent the firm's international outlook elsewhere. Simpson Thacher has eminent capital markets and M&A practices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo, with a client list including Shinsei Bank, Elpida Memory and Seiko Epson Corporation.
Simpson Thacher stands tall in UK law in no small part due to its herculean private equity clients, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR) and Blackstone. In addition to its formidable M&A and private equity client base, Simpson Thacher has a strong reputation in banking, having represented in recent years: J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Wachovia, UBS and Travelers. Not to be outdone, the litigation department is one of the best in the world and handles work on behalf of multinational clients, criminal investigations and anti-trust cases.
US law firms operating in the UK have a reputation for paying above and beyond even the biggest players in the industry. Simpson Thacher is no exception. In addition to its market leading remuneration, it protects its solicitors from the diminishing dollar by converting its US salaries using a favourable, fixed exchange rate.
Despite a significantly larger presence in the US than over here in the UK, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett still commands some serious respect. And with a mere 70 or so lawyers employed at its London office, competition for places is perhaps even tougher than at the larger top firms.
Although the firm does employ lawyers from both the UK and the US, there is currently no training programme in the London office. The firm has summer associate programmes in its US offices, and associates may go on secondment to London, the firm’s only European office. Opportunities for Londoners are therefore limited to higher up, lateral positions.
Provided they have an exceptional CV and strong academic credentials, UK applicants are still in with a chance of a job. Successful applicants need to be sharp, independent thinkers, who work well within a team. High pressure and stressful situations abound at Simpson Thacher, so driven and composed candidates will also be well received. Due to the ‘close-knit community’ culture in the London office, final decisions about who to hire often come down to whether or not a candidate would be a good fit for the team as a whole.
Graduate Recruitment Info
Tel: +44(0)20 7275 6500
No. of lawyers firm-wide: 850+
No. of lawyers in London: Approx. 70
London partners: 12
London associates: 28
Newly qualified: £97,500
1 year PQE: £103,700
2 years PQE: £112,800
3 years PQE: £128,000
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One Ropemaker Street
London EC2Y 9HU
Tel: +44 0)20 7275 6500
No. of worldwide offices: 11