Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Where to work in Brussels?

with one comment


Freshly graduated students often come with queries about life in law firms.

Many questions are related to wages and working hours.

But the key question is always about how cool (or stressful) it is to work for this or that law firm.

Here are a few cardinal principles to keep in mind:

  1. Wanna keep a social life? => Avoid merger factories;
  2. Life at European law firms is not necessarily better than in anglo-saxon law firms. This is because there is often a stronger pyramidal hierarchy in traditional (especially south european) law firms. In turn, junior associates are typically less involved in high level issues (meetings with clients, etc.) and must show a lot of deference to senior colleagues. In US law firms, partners – but this is again a generality – would tend to be  more approachable;
  3. US firms pay better than UK firms, which pay better than continental firms. The same equation however applies to billable hours;
  4. What law firms seek to purchase with a strong paycheck is full availability, including at very short notice. Upon client/partner call, young associates must be ready to sacrifice family, holiday, wedding plans…;
  5. Minimum entry wage for a 1y associate in a Brussels competition pratice : 50K€/year;
  6. Like team work? Go for big law. Hate ghost writing? Go for academia;
  7. The above is of course contingent on the people. Several well-known merger factories are really cool places to work for, simply because the partners there are great professionals and very pleasant persons;

The bottom-line? The talk of the town is that there’s two places where it’s really good to work as a junior associate in Brussels, Sidley Austin and Hogan Lovells (and Garrigues, of course).

Written by Nicolas Petit

31 August 2012 at 11:19 am

One Response

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  1. Well, I guess the game changed a lot…
    Indeed, at the salary/ package level the equation still remains: US > UK > EU/Local.
    But The first issue you need to sort out before working – and please, advice – it’s to introspect and already plan your career mindset. Do you prefer Anglo-saxon law firms? or at the contrary, you do prefer international EU firm based ion brussels – if yes, look the statement you agree with: something more FR? German? Spanish/Italian? New challenger?… Or you do prefer fight alongside local best lawyers in Belgian ITL Law firms; as for example Van Bael & Bellis? Or yet, working in a mixed environement local partner or eu partner in US/UK big law firm…

    After this, please, try to know true industry and the way that competition law is working in Brussels. Who are the bigger players? And who are the best players? Who could provide you with the most interesting experience that could match with your expectations? Of Course, on a reasonable way we could easily use tools as Who’sWho, IFLR, CGR i, Legal 500 or Chambers&Partners… to target the market of competition law firms.

    At the salary level, it’s true that you could negotiate 50K annual gross salary.


    11 April 2015 at 10:29 am

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