This global firm has roots in the UK and Australia and is looking to strengthen its brand in the US beyond its stellar projects practice.
Ashurst’s global network represents what its most highly regarded work aims to achieve: connectivity. Yes, we’re talking about Ashurst’s projects practice, which is a cornerstone of its US offering and serves a host of high-profile lenders, governments and sponsors. These projects are often tied to developments in the energy and infrastructure sectors – think transport, broadband, renewables and more. Funding for these projects typically comes from public-private partnerships (often referred to as PPPs or P3 deals), involving government agencies and private parties. Chambers USA gives top billing to Ashurst’s PPP practice, placing it in the same premier league as US BigLaw heavyweights Gibson Dunn and Orrick.
“Every deal I work on involves international transactions. You learn so much through working with people all around the world.”
Ashurst’s US presence – consisting of three offices in New York, LA and Texas – is just the tip of the iceberg; with 30 offices internationally, the firm’s US attorneys are well-versed in cross-border dealings, and juniors get their fair share of multi-jurisdictional exposure: “Every deal I work on involves international transactions,” explained a source. “You learn so much through working with people all around the world.” A number of international lawyers work in the US bases, bringing with them a refreshing spin on BigLaw, as our sources attested: “It’s nice to have British and Australian lawyers in the office because they’re a little less business-oriented and more interested in the nitty-gritty aspects of the law.”
Compared to its homegrown rivals, Ashurst only takes on a select few associates each year to join its US ranks, mostly in New York, although LA is also an option. This intimate set-up was ideal for our interviewees: “The general vibe and attitude are not as intense as other big New York law firms,” confirmed a junior, who also appreciated that smaller teams meant more work to go around.
Strategy & Future
It’s party-poppers all round for Ashurst: the firm is celebrating 200 years of being “at the forefront of the global legal industry” in 2022, saysSharon Kim, managing partner of Ashurst’s New York office. Kim highlights that the firm has seen five consecutive years of revenue growth and intends to expand its US presence off the back of this success. “In the US, within the last year we have added four new partners. We’ve rebalanced the composition of our practice areas by headcount and become less concentrated on projects and infrastructure by growing our other practice areas,” says Kim. "Of the four new partners, we recruited two reputable practitioners in the structured products, securities & derivatives space. They bring a high level of expertise to the existing teams and strengthen our presence among US banking clients." What’s more, the firm has elected Karen Davies as its new global chair – the first woman to hold the position in the firm’s 200-year history. In June 2022, Ashurst expanded its US footprint by opening an office in Austin, Texas.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
The firm’s new global chair is only one display of Ashurst’s commitment to fostering an inclusive environment. “We work on a lot of cross-border matters with our international offices, so it doesn’t feel like a homogenous environment,” according to a source. But associates needn’t even look that far to see Ashurst’s inclusivity – our survey ranks the firm second in terms of the representation of female partners in its US practice.
Kim also highlighted the firm’s “industry-leading” global parental leave policy, “which is gender-neutral and aims to provide support for working parents who have become parents in non-traditional ways.” The firm also has a new Inclusion, Diversity and Belonging action plan that sets out targets to be met by 2026. The targets relate to gender/non-binary, ethnic and LGBTQ+ representation at the firm. “We’ve seen a particular improvement in partner promotion by gender and there is increased focus on the more senior partner and management level,” Kim explains.
“The approach is if you want to learn something or feel like you need training, all you need to do is ask.”
“The approach is if you want to learn something or feel like you need training, all you need to do is ask,” said an associate. Newbies are equipped with an associate mentor and a partner mentor to show them the ropes, and with regular group training programs interviewees felt they were being set up for success. “A year ago, they hired someone to coordinate CLE training, and they’re a great person to go to when you have questions about resources,” explained one associate. Development is partly self-driven at Ashurst: “The nature of the job is that once you become comfortable with a task, it’s time to move on to the next unknown thing.” When it came to the question of partnership, sources were unsure about how attainable it may be: “Because of the small group, I don’t think it’s realistic for everyone to reach that level,” we heard. But some felt the future was promising: “The firm is constantly expanding – they’ve hired a handful of partners in the past year.”
Ashurst’s newer Los Angeles office (it opened in 2020) specializes in US transport and infrastructure projects, while the New York bunch deal with a broader range of matters, most notably projects and global loans. Other areas covered in New York include corporate/M&A, capital markets, tax, and financial regulation.
The projectsteam works on a variety of infrastructure deals, representing the government side of giant contracts for highways, airports, railroads, ports – you name it, and this bunch have probably worked on it. As well as transport matters, the team handles projects that flow in from the energy and resources, social infrastructure, sports, and telecommunications sectors. Unsurprisingly, matters usually involve a ton of back and forth with government contacts, as well as plenty of liaising with private investors. On transactions involving the transport industry, “we help the government procure the deals and put out the initial documents detailing their plans. Once we’ve had a small group of companies join in, we help write the contract.” Juniors are typically tasked with editing and updating documents based on client comments, carrying out any research to help shape the documents, and writing memos for clients. “I’m basically doing all types of work the team needs staffing on,” shared a source. “The group is really busy at the moment, but if it did slow down I could approach other partners for work.”
Projects clients: City of San Jose, Metro Flood Diversion Authority, Georgia Department of Transportation. Advising Austin Transit Partnership on Project Connect, a $7 billion transit expansion plan that aims to improve transport links in central Texas.
Over on the global loansfront, juniors work on the US side of loan agreements which usually stem from the firm’s international offices. Here, you’ll find matters involving listed and unlisted funds, as well as other investment vehicles and pension plans. “We oversee all the US provisions to the main facility agreements,” explained an associate. The team here work for both borrowers and lenders, which meant there was plenty for associates to do: our sources had drafted ancillary documents, reviewed corporate formalities, and often found themselves juggling eight to ten deals at once. They were typically responsible for progressing deals and following up with relevant parties, taking a first crack at drafting documents, and liaising with counsel. As the group is relatively small, work allocation is organized through team-wide weekly calls. Matters are assigned based on availability and spread out as evenly as possible between teammates. The tight-knit bunch find it “easy to communicate,” as this associate explained: “If there was something I was interested in or wanted more experience on, I would just ask the partner in charge. People are also supportive of me reaching out to other groups when we’ve been less busy.”
Global loans clients: AVEVA Group, BlackRock, BP. Advised AVEVA in relation to the financing of its $5 billion acquisition of OSIsoft.
Juniors can dedicate up to 100 hours of pro bono to their billable target. There are weekly pro bono announcements containing opportunities, but sources said that they could also bring in their own pro bono projects as well. The firm works on pro bono initiatives with the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), and associates were involved in cases surrounding the immediate evacuation of IRAP clients from Afghanistan in 2021. “The visa process was no longer our focus – the priority was getting people out,” an interviewee explained. “We’re now working on helping them get permanent status in the US.” Other pro bono matters involved advising non-profits on various corporate laws and taxes.
Pro bono hours
- For all US attorneys: 1,036.4
- Average per US attorney: 28.9
Culture, Hours & Compensation
Billable hours: 2,000 requirement
Associates in New York told us that compensation at Ashurst was set at the market rate, although at the time of research, the firm had yet to match the most recent hike. “We were all given COVID bonuses as well,” beamed a source. In order to be bonus-eligible, associates have to bill 2,000 hours, consisting of 1,950 client billable hours and at least 50 non-client productive hours (formed of pro-bono; knowledge and expertise activities; business development work; participation in DEI initiatives, and contribution on other committees and initiatives). Performance reviews are also taken into account. One of our interviewees noted that failing to hit the target was unlikely, as they were billing an average of 50 to 60 hours week.
"Our workload can be unpredictable, but people don’t work on the weekend."
“Our workload can be unpredictable,” a projects source commented, “but culturally, people don’t work on the weekend. We try to plan our weeks around it.” Over on the global loans team, associates explained that things were steadier throughout the year, but some intensity toward the end could create occasional weekend work. There was definitely a strong sense of team spirit among this group: “I wouldn’t say it’s necessary, but it’s in the interest of the group to make the next week easier,” said a global loans junior, rather considerately!
The different teams show their appreciation for one another through lunches and socials. “Pre-pandemic we regularly hosted team lunches, and as restrictions ease, we’re steadily bringing them back,” a source was happy to report.We also caught wind of weekly happy hours, which associates were keen to see return. “As a junior, it’s nice to have that contact,” according to a source. At the time of our research, associates were encouraged to work from the office once a week, with the aim being to move toward 60% in the office, and 40% working from home.
The first stage: recruitment on and off campus
OCI applicants interviewed: 65
Interviewees outside OCI: N/A
Ashurst does not participate in On Campus Recruiting and instead takes direct applications for their summer associate program through a resume collection at various law schools. Applicants undergo an initial phone screening interview, which could lead to a second round of interviews.
Applicants invited to second stage interview: 23
Callback interviews consist of five 30-minute interviews conducted by a group of attorneys representative of a cross section of practice areas and recruitment committee members. Candidates are invited to join a small group of associates for lunch following their in-office callback interviews. Last year's callback interviews were conducted virtually in light of the pandemic, and we expect to adjust our planning to suit the new normal as it unfolds in 2022. Executive Director for the Americas, Nicole Lancia, tells us that because the firm does not participate in the OCI process, questions at this stage “typically dive into candidate's interest in the firm and whether they would be a cultural fit with Ashurst.”
Top tips for this stage:
“I really liked the people I interviewed with, many of whom are still here and now colleagues of mine.’” – a junior associate
“We advise candidates to research the firm's practice areas and recent deals to best understand the US strategy." – Nicole Lancia, executive director for the Americas
For 2022, the summer associate program will be in person.
Lancia tells us that the firm strives to provide a “comprehensive and realistic experience during our summer program so that summer associates have a realistic experience and get a better sense of what it's truly like to be a junior associate at Ashurst.” Summers are paired with associate and partner mentors, who, along with a work coordination team, help assign relevant work and provide essential feedback.” There are weekly social events and trainings, and summers are encouraged to go to coffee or lunch with partners, counsel and associates. Summers returning as first year associates participate in the flexible first year where they are given the opportunity to explore practice areas outside of their primary interests.
Top tips for this stage:
“Get to know the team, be proactive and ask for guidance if you're unsure.” – Lancia
London Fruit & Wool Exchange,
1 Duval Square,
55 Hudson Yards,
- Head office: London, UK
- Number of domestic offices: 2
- Number of international offices: 27
- Worldwide revenue:£641 million
- Partners (US): 14
- Associates (US): 26 Contacts
- Main recruitment contact: Alexandra Pecora firstname.lastname@example.org
- Recruitment website: www.ashurst.com
- Diversity officer: Matthew Tague Recruitment details
- Entry-level associates starting in 2022: 2
- Clerking policy: No
- Summers joining/anticipated 2022: 3
- Summer salary 2022: $202,500
- Split summers offered? No
- Can summers spend time in overseas office? N/A
Main areas of work
Our offices in New York and Los Angeles provide comprehensive legal services to US and global financial institutions and corporations.
Our US Projects team advises on all aspects of project financings in the US and coordinates closely with our offices in London, Sydney, Madrid, Paris, and Tokyo on delivery of world class market knowledge to our transactions. Our award-winning practice focuses on public-private partnerships (PPP) in all sectors including rail, road, airport, student accommodation, courthouses, water and waste and have worked on ground breaking transport and social infrastructure projects across the nation.
Our Global Loans practice is recognized by our clients within the industry to be one of the most innovative and solution orientated legal practices. We provide seamless coverage on a wide range of US and cross-border lending transactions, including leveraged and acquisition finance, corporate lending, lending to funds and lending to the insurance sector. We frequently provide advice to banks, financial institutions and funds who are themselves leading players in the market.
Our derivatives practice offers the full spectrum of transactional, advisory and documentation services for derivatives and structured products.
We have a market-leading, specialist team that advises leading investment banks and other financial institutions and covers the full spectrum of the derivatives area. Unlike many other firms, we have specialist lawyers focused on each area so our expertise encompasses all classes of OTC derivatives, repos, securities lending, repackagings, credit-linked notes and structured products. One of our great strengths is our ability to adapt and move from structuring one product to another quickly thanks to the versatility and depth of knowledge of our team. As a result, our clients are empowered to respond to changing market demands and enabled to release the most popular products in a short turnaround time.
Ashurst’s first class team of structured products attorneys offers substantial industry expertise, and provides transactional, and structuring advice to leading international banks. Our Structured Products team has extensive experience advising on all forms of structured products (including notes, warrants and certificates), together with structured bank deposits, and across all underlying asset classes and product structures.
Ashurst is an elite global law firm with over 450 partners and a further 1,400 lawyers working in 28 offices across 16 countries. Unlike many other firms, infrastructure as an industry and an asset class is central to our global strategy and practice. We offer the international insight of a global network combined with local market expertise and knowledge.
Our vision is to be the most progressive global law firm. For us, ‘progressive’ is a mindset, an approach to how we do things. We instinctively take a fresh perspective on situations, exploring whether there are better ways of delivering practical, commercial solutions to the challenges our clients face in today’s rapidly changing business landscape.
Law Schools attending for OCIs in 2022: We recruit for Summer Associate positions through a resume collect. We post jobs at Columbia, NYU, Fordham, Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA and other top ranked schools.
Recruitment outside OCIs: We recruit for Summer Associate positions through a resume collect.
Summer associate profile: At Ashurst, we strive to provide a stimulating and rewarding experience for our summer associates. By working on top-quality transactions, it is our goal to present a realistic picture of life as a junior associate.
Summer associates will be exposed to multiple practice areas during the summer program, including, but not limited to Projects, Global Loans, Derivatives and Structured Products. Our summer associates will also have exposure to both US and global deals and partners.
Summer program components: We are looking for enthusiastic candidates who are eager to learn and grow with our US practice and offer competitive salary. This position is open to 2L students.
This Firm's Rankings in
USA Guide, 2022
USA - Nationwide
- Projects: PPP (Band 1)