Ashurst What it does: high-powered law, all around the world
Staff stats: Globally, 400 partners, 3,200 employees and 220 contractors in 14 countries. In Australia, there’s around 1000 partners, lawyers and other staff.
The good bits: Prestige clients, excellent training, friendly culture
The not so good bits: Lots of deadlines and long hours
The Ashurst story
In 2012 Blake Dawson, one of Australia’s oldest and most prestigious law firms combined its Australian and Asian offices with those of the UK’s Ashurst. It also embraced the Ashurst brand, becoming Ashurst Australia. Blake Dawson began in 1841 when a Scottish immigrant called James Ross set up a practice in the middle of Melbourne. Ross died a quarter of a century later. But the business he started powered on, albeit going through several iterations and rebrandings. By the start of the 20th century, the firm had an enviable commercial, litigation and property practice. Its client list included many of Australia’s major banks, corporations and mining companies.
Ashurst Morris Crisp was founded in London in 1822 by a political activist, corporate law specialist and liquidation maven. It soon attracted plenty of blue chip and blue blood clients. After a profit-slump-induced shake-up and rebrand in 2003, the business rebuilt its merger and acquisitions practice. It also took measures to ensure consistent quality in practices dotted throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America. Within a few years, the firm was once again one of the most profitable in the UK, with some partners clearing one £1 million pounds a year prior to the GFC. Following its merger with Blake Dawson, Ashurst gained expertise and clients in the energy and resources, infrastructure and financial services industries. It is now the world’s 25th largest law firm.
Ashurst aspires to create a level playing field for staff, be they disabled, female, LGBTI or from a minority religious or ethnic background. It aims to assist positive social, political, economic and environmental change in the countries it operates in. Ashurst Australia has worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for over four decades. In 2013 it committed to a Reconciliation Action Plan.
Ashurst provides legal assistance to the disadvantaged and marginalised, as well as not-for-profits and social enterprises. It will also sometimes act in an unpaid capacity in matters of “broad public or community concern”. In line with its ‘Modern Slavery Statement’, Ashurst “will not tolerate slavery or human trafficking or abusive or unfair treatment” either within its own business or its supply chains. Ashurst Australia sponsors the $30,000 Ashurst Business Literature Prize. This seeks to “recognise the highest standards of literary commentary of Australian business and financial affairs”.
The recruitment process
Ashurst promises a “collaborative, respectful and inclusive work environment” boasting “some of the most agile and incisive thinkers in the legal sector”. It claims to look for staff with “energy, passion and drive” capable of “building strong relationships with colleagues and clients”. The recruitment process starts with the standard online application and assessment. If you’re lucky enough to make it to the next stage, you go straight to the face-to-face interviews.
Depending on which office you apply to, you'll either have one or two rounds of interviews with a member of the graduate recruitment team and with one or two partners. If you’re sufficiently impressive in person you’ll quickly be offered a clerkship program spot. You can find out more on the careers page of the company website.
You can make big money at Ashurst, especially if you make partner. However, you’ll have to content yourself with a competitive graduate salary while in the program. Catering is usually provided during business hours, along with dinners and taxi vouchers if you work back.
The firm subsidises gym memberships, sporting activities and flu vaccinations. It also pays for approved courses and provides study leave. Finally, there’s the opportunity to work in Ashurst’s overseas offices.
Ashurst provides a well-structured progression path, with clear metrics, from grad to lawyer to senior associate. You may be able to access a mentor and workshops to transition to the next stage of your career (i.e. from a senior associate to partner). As with any law firm, whether you make partner will come down to your performance, dedication and the strength of the relationships you build with colleagues and clients.
The vibe of the place
Ashurst, though hierarchical, is relatively laidback for a top-tier law firm. Those on all levels of the org chart socialise together regularly. Partners and senior associates are usually down-to-earth and approachable. Teamwork and co-operation are encouraged. All that noted, you’ll be expected to put in the hours and be a strong performer.
Overall satisfaction rating among grad employees: 4.5 stars
From The Employer
"Move your mind
Aim beyond pure legal knowledge. Beyond commercial advice. Be known for something more: a clarity of thought and an instinct for problem solving that can influence leading businesses and organisations the world over.
Easy? Hardly. Our ambition as a firm means we need people with a rare kind of mindset: an openness to the way you work, an agility to the way you think, and a strong desire to keep evolving as a professional.
Join us and we’ll help you enrich and expand your worldview, grow your skills and influence new ways of thinking. In other words, we’ll help you move minds.
Let’s start by moving yours.
As a global law firm with a rich history spanning almost 200 years, we've built a reputation for providing exceptional standards of service and established ourselves as a leading adviser to local and global corporates, financial institutions and governments, on all areas of law including finance, M&A, disputes and competition.
We’re renowned for helping our clients navigate through a complex and constantly evolving global landscape. With 25 offices across the world’s leading financial and resource centres in Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East and the USA, we offer the reach and insight of a global network combined with deep local market knowledge. And, with our partners and lawyers working across 10 different time zones, we are able to respond to our clients' needs wherever and whenever they need us.
Our people are our greatest asset. We bring together lawyers of the highest calibre with the technical knowledge, industry experience and regional know-how to provide the incisive advice our clients need. As people we are valued by our clients for being approachable, astute and commercially minded. As a global team we have a reputation for successfully managing large and complex multi-jurisdictional transactions, disputes and projects, and for delivering outstanding outcomes for clients.
Variety of experience is essential in developing the kind of expertise that will set you apart. At Ashurst, you won’t just be learning from the past or from specifics. You will also be developing the instincts to tackle the most complex issues in international law, and building an understanding of each client's business.
The ways in which we support you to do this are equally varied. The firm's structured aQ training helps you develop the highest standards of technical legal expertise, industry know-how and business and legal skills. Honest, transparent conversations ensure you know exactly what we expect from you. Useful, constructive feedback helps you learn. And a network of highly respected figures will not only inspire you, they will actively mentor your development."