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UK City Firms

Bingham McCutchen

Bingham McCutchen, formerly Bingham, Dana & Gould, managed to transform itself from a Boston heavyweight into a global firm through a series of bulking-up mergers kicking off in the 1990s. Then in 2002, Bingham Dana merged with San Francisco firm, McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enerson and thus Bingham McCutchen was born.

Of all the US firms, Bingham seems to have weathered the recent economic storm relatively well. In the 2009/10 financial year the firm was one of a handful which didn't see a fall in revenue, however in the most recent financial year revenue fell over 12%, and stood at $762 million compared to $872 million in 2012. The firm attributed this mainly due to the drop in bankruptcy work in the economic revival, and the settlement of major cases such as its role representing Mitsui in the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill case. 

Indeed the firm's main focus is on restructuring and finance litigation, which tend to be the areas to be in once the sh*t hits the fan economically. The London office has very much stuck to its image as a finance outfit, rather than a full-service firm. And it's been doing pretty well off it, too. Bingham's work included advising the world-wide bondholder group in relation to the restructuring of the beleaguered Icelandic banks and successfully concluding an epic decade's worth of litigation against Polish telecomms outfit Elektrim, securing over €700m for bondholders.

Bingham has over 1000 lawyers in offices all over the world. Its strategy is to plant its flag in every global financial centre (most recently in Frankfurt and Beijing). Which should sound like good news for the firm's trainees, but in fact international jollies seats are not guaranteed. There is a possible six months to be had in Hong Kong but only if there is a business need. And given Bingham only takes on two trainees it's not surprising that its keen to keep them in London.

The firm's rationale behind the tiny intake is that it wishes to grow organically. That, and it probably doesn't want to be on the hook for too many NQ salaries. Bingham is probably most famous for offering the highest NQ salary in the City. An eye-watering £100k.

Unsurprisingly with this kind of wedge up for grabs, lawyers seem relatively happy with their lot at a firm which rewards them with "astronomical pay". One lawyer chimes "pay is 40-50% above magic circle pay with similar, if not better, hours".  Apparently the highlight of the year is when the vac schemers arrive, as one NQ says "each week it's five nights out in a row". As with many US firms, the general idea is that you get all the responsibility you can handle - so there's some interesting work to be had. Plus the small London headcount means that everyone knows everyone else, which can lend a certain camaraderie. However, shirkers beware, it also means there's nowhere to hide. Those wanting to skip out at 5pm must do so in front of everyone.

Overall, a solid choice for those with a real interest in finance and bankruptcy work. And those with dollar signs in their eyes.
For more information on Bingham McCutchen click here

Salary

Salary (1st seat trainee): £40,000
Salary (NQ): £100,000
Salary (1PQE): £100,000
Salary (2PQE): £106,250
Salary (3PQE): £115,625
Salary (Salaried partner):

Bonus Scheme

Bonus scheme: Yes
Typical bonus as % of salary
- NQ: %
- 1PQE: %
- 2PQE: %
- 3PQE: %
- 4PQE: %
- 5PQE: %
- Partner: %

Training

Grant for GDL: £8,000
Grant for LPC: £8,000
Training places per year: 2
% of trainees retained: 50%

RollOnFriday Firm of the Year Scores

Salary: 100%
Development: 79%
Work/Life: 52%
Openness: 56%
Biscuits: 75%
Toilets: 73%
Social: 56%
Firm of the year overall score: 71%

Benefits

Holiday allowance: 25 for trainees, 27 for associates
Flexi holiday: No
Pension: No
Healthcare: Yes
Maternity policy: 3 months at full pay, 2 months at statutory pay, remainder at SMP.
Target hours:
Childcare vouchers: Yes
Gym: No but the firm offers a monthly gym contribution
Restaurant: No
24 hour photocopying support: Yes
24 hour secretarial support: Yes
Other:

  

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Bizarre firm-wide email sees secretary blame the state of her colleagues on alien body snatchers... ... read more >
  

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