What’s it really like to work as a City lawyer?

If you’re going to be successful in securing that training contract in a City law firm, then you’re going to get good at writing about why you want it. Fantastic! But what will it really be like when you get there? Josh graduated from Warwick in 2015 and has now joined Davis Polk. Here’s what he’s found.


The transition from university to full time employment, for many, is a daunting prospect. Where, throughout education, I was responsible for solely my own outcome, the thought that the product of my efforts can now influence the outcomes of a broader set of recipients is what I find the most daunting.

Steep learning curve!

20161115_130124300Now three months into my training contract at Davis Polk, and gradually adjusting to the level of responsibility that is offered, I confess that my expectations of a ‘hands-on’ experience and ‘steep learning curve’ have certainly been exceeded. I am currently sat in the credit department where I was swiftly staffed on a complex cross-border transaction. Having been brought up to speed by my supervisor on the intricate details of the matter, a variety of substantive tasks were soon handed my way. Visions of coffee-making and photo-copying were soon dismissed, and I was instead given considerable client exposure and independence from the outset. Liaising directly with the client and lawyers in a variety of jurisdictions, the responsibilities involved both analytical and procedural elements. Despite being slightly unnerving for a fresh-faced trainee like myself, it was always rewarding to see my contributions have an impact on the overall transaction.

Responsibility with support

Whilst substantial responsibility is given to trainees at Davis Polk, it is reassuring to have support and supervision from experienced lawyers when needed. Further, working in a collegial and ‘open-door’ environment makes the ‘steep learning curve’ more manageable. It is nevertheless an expectation that trainees will work to find answers independently and use their initiative to develop solutions to the variety of legal questions that will be encountered.

Is it right for you?

A training contract which offers such independence and responsibility is not necessarily right for everyone and to get the most out of the training experience I think it’s important to be self-motivated and to be able to show a great level of perseverance. A passion for independent learning and an inquisitive nature will also stand you in good stead to succeed in a training contract at a firm like Davis Polk.”

20161115_105724300Applications for Davis Polk’s 2017 vacation scheme are now open.  This year Davis Polk will be recruiting its 2019 trainee intake solely from its 2017 vacation scheme students. Therefore, if you are interested in pursuing a career at this elite US law firm, it is more important than ever to apply for a place on the vacation scheme. The deadline for vacation scheme applications is 15th January 2016

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