There’s no such thing as a typical White & Case lawyer. Between us, we speak 87 languages and represent 110 nationalities. But what we all have in common is: operating as one team. We’re mutually supportive, always curious and driven to do our best for our clients. We value our diversity and the different perspectives that everyone brings. This brochure will introduce you to some of the people you will meet in our London offices.
Over the past century—including more than 50 years in London—our lawyers around the world have been true legal pioneers. That’s reflected in the work we have done, the speed at which we have opened offices in new markets and the laws that we have helped craft. So it’s no wonder that pioneering is one of our values today. Yet our success, and our distinctive culture, is shaped just as much by our other two values: united and human.
Start your career with us and you’ll get to experience our values in action as you become a globally minded, well-rounded lawyer. You can expect exceptional career development and support, challenging work and the chance to build relationships that will last a lifetime.
Ready to find out what it really means to be part of the White & Case team? Try out one of our virtual learning programmes or join us in our City office for an open day, insight scheme or vacation scheme. I warmly encourage you to explore every chance to get to know our Firm, experience our culture and see how you can make your mark with us.
Will Stoner started as a London trainee in 2011 and is now a partner in our Financial Restructuring and Insolvency team. Here’s the inside track on his own career journey and his top advice for students who want to know more about our Firm.
Working in law is a team game
On TV, being a lawyer is all about the big moments of individual brilliance. But in reality, everything we do is as part of a team. Almost every piece of work is reviewed by multiple people. Being part of a team can also mean being a leader, but it always means being part of something bigger than just your own work.
One of the most important qualities for a lawyer is empathy
Being able to put yourself in the shoes of your client, members of your own team and lawyers in other jurisdictions is a vital skill. Empathy means that you appreciate other people’s ways of working and don’t assume that your own way of seeing the world is the same for everyone.
It’s never too early to build the skills you’ll need throughout your career
Presenting is something you’ll likely do more of as you become more senior, so take every opportunity to practice as a student. Another example is delegation. As a young trainee, I had no idea how to delegate; whether it was to my PA or to other team members. But delegating is something that you need to do at every stage of your career.
Broadening access ensures greater diversity long-term
Ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to work and succeed here means considering the needs of underrepresented groups before, during and after the recruitment stage. I’ve been involved with a programme to mentor A-level students from disadvantaged backgrounds, through the Firm’s partnership with a social mobility organisation. We also use ‘blind’ CVs in interviews, which help us make more objective decisions about a candidate. Our affinity networks are open to everyone, and I try to go to as many events as possible. Allies have an important part to play.
Working overseas or going on secondment helps you grow as a lawyer
As a trainee, I did my overseas seat with the Arbitration team in the Paris office. Three years after qualification, I did a nine-month secondment to Goldman Sachs, which was an invaluable insight into our clients’ needs and priorities. And more recently, I spent six months working in our New York office, which really helped deepen my connection with the team there.
From day one at White & Case, the work is international
My first ever deal was a sovereign bond issue for Senegal, which was an amazing experience. I’m currently working with colleagues in South Africa on a large matter in an East African country. I did a deal for a big Kazakh business that closed earlier this year. I’m also working on a big German deal for one of our largest London-based clients. Every day involves speaking to colleagues or clients in other countries—that’s what working at a firm like White & Case is like.
A full-service global firm is designed to weather economic cycles
As a restructuring lawyer, my work is busiest during economic downturns. Other areas, like Capital Markets or M&A, are busier when the markets are booming. As a full-service global firm, there are always new opportunities for us. As a trainee, you’ll get exposure to different practices, learn about our business and discover the area in which you want to work.
A global mindset doesn’t require you to have travelled the world
Show us that you understand what businesses or technology are driving the global economy, that you’re informed about current affairs. Maybe you have a particular interest in one region because of a family connection. It’s not about how many stamps you have in your passport.
Show us how your work experience is relevant
One of the best candidates I ever interviewed had worked at a fast food restaurant for two years during university. He could clearly demonstrate great experience of dealing with challenging situations, juggling lots of demands and delivering excellent service.
“If you don’t come from a background where people in your family have been to university, or work as lawyers already, it can be really hard to imagine yourself choosing that path,” says Prisca Victoria Wharton, an associate in our Real Estate team. “I came from a single-parent family and my mum worked incredibly hard. However, we were far (in every sense, I grew up in Macclesfield) from the world of City law.”
Overcoming invisible barriers
Prisca points out that people from underrepresented backgrounds can face invisible barriers in their careers. “If there’s no one to advise you, then you don’t know what you don’t know! That might be about which A-level courses to choose, what university to apply for or what course to do. In my case, I did a non-law degree, but no-one told me that you have to pay upfront to do the GDL conversion course. Had I known that, I would have gone straight to law as an undergraduate.”
Transferable skills: Applying work experience
Prisca funded her Master’s and GDL qualification by working full-time managing a bar and then a phone shop, and says that the experience is something that she draws on as a Real Estate associate now. “If you’ve worked in retail, or done a customer service job, then you’ve got experience of dealing with customers, negotiating difficult situations, selling, dealing with finance, reporting to bosses and working with a team. All of which is invaluable and relevant experience to my work as a lawyer, working in a team to keep a deal moving forwards.”
What does Prisca find most satisfying about working in the Real Estate team? “Although we’re working at a big scale—global data centres, massive regeneration projects or wind farms generating enormous amounts of power—there is still something tangible about this field. There’s a physical asset associated with the work that we do. But we also work closely with other practices, such as the Private Equity team, and more often than not, the assets are multijurisdictional and so are the teams.”
Social mobility within a global firm
In a global firm like White & Case, Prisca explains that the obstacles and biases that people from disadvantaged backgrounds face can vary. “In the US, accent bias is not necessarily such a differentiator, compared to the UK. Feeling comfortable with my own accent, and not ‘masking’ where I’ve come from is important to me. At White & Case, there’s no expectation that you should blend in.”
Working with the next generation of lawyers
An active member of White & Case’s Social Mobility Task Force, Prisca says that sometimes physically experiencing the reality of law firm life can be a gamechanger for students. ““As part of the Firm’s work with the Social Mobility Foundation, we welcome a group of sixth-formers from all over the country to sit with us for a week. They have questions about going to university and what that’s like. Again, if you don’t necessarily have people in your life who’ve been through that themselves, you might not know anyone to ask about how to write a great uni application. So we can help with that. But in terms of actually being here, in the office, not only do they get to learn about the work that we do, they can also get a taste for the culture of working in the City, and meeting people in a variety of jobs.”
She says that it’s a chance for students to overcome any doubts about how they might fit in: “As soon as you come through the doors, you’ll feel welcome and you’ll realise that the reality of working in a diverse firm is that everyone comes from different backgrounds. You hear so many languages; you’re working with people from around the world on a daily basis. Your experience and identity is something to celebrate and own here. Everyone who works at White & Case is here because they deserve to be.”
This a global firm with a global culture
As someone who grew up in Australia and Japan and was always surrounded by people from all over the world, I knew that I thrived in a multicultural environment. So it was natural for me to feel most comfortable at a firm with diversity at its heart.
I knew that the work would be both challenging and fulfilling
Having completed internships at global law firms in Tokyo and Australia, I got an insight into the nature of corporate law. The emphasis on client relationships aligned with my interests, character and desire for challenge. Working here gives me the opportunity to be part of a market-leading team and be involved in sophisticated and challenging deals on behalf of clients who are leaders within their industries.
The relationships and connections I’ve made here will last forever
Never underestimate how essential networking is in the legal profession, even as a junior lawyer. Ultimately, being a lawyer is a people profession, so building and maintaining relationships with your colleagues, mentors and clients is fundamental. These connections can open up opportunities and provide valuable support and advice throughout your career.
Working overseas turbo-charges your development
I did my overseas seat with the Capital Markets team in Paris. The team is smaller than in London, but this meant often doing NQ-level work and being trusted with a high level of responsibility. I was being supervised by a senior partner who taught me a tremendous amount in a very short space of time, and I am eternally grateful for his advice and guidance.
You can depend on your team for support
Whenever you have a question, you have an entire team of bright people you can ask for guidance and advice. As a trainee, I always tried to show enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. But one thing I wish I had done more was to ask for feedback—I think it is important to actively seek it more often to accelerate your learning and improvement.
My diverse background is valued at White & Case
It helps me work effectively with clients and colleagues from different cultural backgrounds. The chance to learn more about cultures and business customs and etiquette is an opportunity that I relish because it helps me, as a junior lawyer, to develop my skills.
Especially in my area of law, where we work with clients from all over the world, it is important to be culturally aware and to understand different perspectives.
1. Stay curious and be a lifelong learner: The legal profession is constantly evolving, so make sure you stay up-to-date with changes in laws, regulations and legal trends. Continuously seek opportunities to expand your legal knowledge and skills.
2. Pay attention to detail: Precision and accuracy are crucial in legal work. Always double-check your work before submitting it.
3. Communication is key: Effective communication is at the heart of being a successful solicitor. Develop your written and verbal communication skills to clearly convey legal arguments and advice to clients and colleagues.
4. Seek feedback and learn from mistakes: Don’t be afraid to seek feedback from your supervisors and colleagues. Constructive criticism helps you improve and grow as a solicitor. Embrace mistakes as opportunities to learn and do better.
5. Work-life balance: The legal profession can be demanding, but it’s crucial to take care of your well-being and make time for hobbies and activities outside of work (whenever you have some downtime). I always try to take an hour out of my day to either go for a run or to the gym! This is the best way to keep sane and to stay healthy.
Melissa Butler is a partner in the Capital Markets Practice in London. She looks back on her career and what she’s learned along the way.
I always wanted to live in London
I was working as an associate in a New York firm when a recruiter called about the position at White & Case. After a particularly gruelling deal, I was ready for a change and I’d always wanted to move abroad. When you work for a global firm like White & Case, you always feel connected to friends and colleagues around the world.
Don’t be afraid to take risks
You can advance in your career and still do the things you want in life. I’ve gone on secondment to Hong Kong, and taken a few months off during the financial crisis to train as a yoga teacher in Bali. It’s always good to make time to check in with yourself and make sure that this is the right career for you. And I still practice yoga.
You’ll form strong friendships with people you work with
My first day as a lawyer was September 12, 2001, and my office was meant to be in Tower 2 of the World Trade Centre. The bonds that I formed with the people that I worked with—and others that I’ve worked closely with since—are unbreakable. You spend a lot of time at work. The friendships you make will help you through the harder times.
I’m a different lawyer now to ten years ago
At one point in my career, being good at my job meant being super-responsive, super ‘on’ all the time. But now, I think that my perspective and my judgement are more important than how quickly I fire off emails.
Be in the driving seat of your career
This is a firm where those who put their hand up—for more responsibility, new experiences, secondments or international projects—will succeed. Look for opportunities to work with as many different people as possible. And ask questions, especially of more senior lawyers. You can learn a lot.
Balance is a see-saw, not a flat line
Some days, my kids’ needs are my priority and I make work fit around that. Other times, family commitments have to take a back seat. I take it day by day and constantly assess what my priorities are, and what has to give.
A full-service global firm is resilient in uncertain times
As a capital markets lawyer, we’re less busy in economic downturns. But other parts of the Firm—and other markets around the world—will be booming. There’s always something to get involved in and something to learn. My advice to juniors is always to put their hands up, get involved and say yes.
Diversity and inclusion: The White & Case way
As the partner sponsor for the LGBTQ+ Spectrum network, I champion our diversity initiatives and encourage everyone to support as allies. There’s always more that unites us than divides us. Our trainees in London speak multiple languages and come from very different backgrounds. They’re all starting new careers, in a new city and sharing an amazing experience together. It’s very inclusive.
Living our values: Pioneering, united and human
We want everyone who works here to feel connected to our values and to live them. It’s a two-way street; it’s not just about what you’ll experience but what you want people to experience from you. It’s one of the things that we look for in new recruits. If they’re not important values for you, then it’s not the right firm for you.
Making your mark: A positive choice about the impact you can have
We’re all responsible for other people’s experience of working at this Firm. So it’s up to me to choose whether or not to give others a good or bad experience. That’s the choice we make every day, in every interaction.
As London trainees rotate through their four different seats, they’ll work closely alongside their dedicated supervisor. Former trainee Adhuv Prinja is now supervisor to trainee Serene Reza. We asked them to explain how future trainees can get the most out of this important working relationship.
“When you start off as a first-seat trainee, a supervisor is your first point of contact for many things, big and small. As you progress through the training contract, it’s common for the supervisor’s role to evolve from direct management into an advisory, mentorship-style role with increased focus on the ‘bigger’ issues such as career progression,” explains Serene.
Creating an environment for trainees to fulfil their potential
“A supervisor’s role is to ensure that their trainee is supported, encouraged and provided with the best environment in which to learn, grow and ultimately realise their full potential,” says Adhuv. “As supervisors, it’s up to us to ensure that our trainees maintain a strong development trajectory through their training contract. This covers the professional, legal and technical aspects of the role—for example, taking the time to provide day-to-day training, providing good-quality work and constructive feedback on that work—but also mentoring and advice on their development more generally.”
Learning by osmosis: The benefits of working closely with your supervisor
Trainees usually share an office with their supervisor, and this proximity provides a great chance to learn on the job, according to Serene. ”“Learning by osmosis is a very real and valuable thing. Sharing an office is a great opportunity to observe how different supervisors approach particular types of legal issues, or deal with clients and other lawyers.”
Maximising your experience
Adhuv says, “As a supervisor, you want a trainee to be engaged, enthusiastic and proactive. It can be daunting moving to a new seat and being dropped into an unfamiliar team, transaction or jurisdiction. Build a rapport with your supervisor and connect on a human level. You will feel more relaxed in the seat and find yourself in a less formal environment in which to learn.”
Be authentic and honest
Serene says that the key to building a successful working relationship is being open and honest: “I think it’s very important for trainees to be themselves. Authenticity and openness are usually obvious and are important to building working relationships. This also applies when it comes to your approach to tasks and asking questions. Be honest when you don’t understand a task or why it’s being done—supervisors are there to help, and they can only do so if they know you need advice in the first place.”
Finally, Serene points out that every supervisor was once in a trainee’s shoes. “However senior they are, every supervisor was once a trainee. They know that the learning curve can be steep, and that unfamiliarity with tasks or practice areas can be daunting.”
Now a trainee in London, Onose Ogebor first got to know White & Case at a Nigerian arbitration moot debating competition. From there, she explored every opportunity to find out more about the Firm, and eventually started as a trainee in 2022. Read about her decision-making process and her experiences so far.
I first heard about White & Case while on summer break in Nigeria...
White & Case sponsored an award for an arbitration mooting competition at an arbitration institute. This caught my attention, so I did some more research about the Firm. When I returned to the UK for the final year of my law degree, I interacted more with White & Case at a law fair and an application workshop.
From there, I completed the virtual learning programme...
Then I attended an open day a month later, secured a vacation scheme several months after that and then completed the vacation scheme during the pandemic. I subsequently secured a training contract and eventually started last year.
Make the most of chances to get to know a firm
Don’t just read about a firm online—you can find out so much more. Proactively engage with your potential employer at every opportunity. Opportunities like virtual learning programmes or open days are great avenues to meet potential colleagues and ask questions about the culture, the work and the people.
Visiting and interning in the office gives a real sense of a firm’s culture
It helps you visualise the future you aspire to and helps you make a more informed decision of whether this is the right fit for you.
My first matter was a transaction involving 11 companies in ten jurisdictions
This met and even surpassed my expectation of the international nature of the work. I’ve worked with lawyers and clients from different parts of the world across several continents. A memorable experience for me was meeting and interacting with clients from East Asia. And with my overseas seat in a couple of months, I know the international experience only gets richer and richer.
Collegiate, supportive, diverse and multi-cultural: The workplace culture in the London office
I’ve discovered that it’s important to ask for help, to be kind to yourself as you go through the trainee learning curve. Take a break, grab a coffee, go for a walk, enjoy a meal. These little things matter.
I’ve also learned that I have many more abilities (e.g., greater resilience and confidence) within me and the right environment can help engage, nurture and develop them.
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