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Core Trainee Seats and Electives

Our principal practice and industry groups are corporate, dispute resolution, life sciences, and technology and media. The demarcation between these areas is not rigid and lawyers frequently work across groups and work closely with other offices. Trainees will complete four six-month seats during the course of the training programme, which consists of two compulsory core seats (corporate and dispute resolution), and two elective seats (these include employment, project finance, life sciences regulatory, real estate and tax, technology and media, as well as client secondments). There is also an option to complete a six-month secondment at our Brussels office within the competition/antitrust practice group.

All trainees undertake the following two seats.


Our corporate clients range from start-ups to established multinationals, and include investment banks and investors. Given the firm’s particular strengths, much of our work is within the pharmaceutical/life sciences, energy and clean energy, brands, technology and media industries. Our work includes premium cross-border M&A deals, complex worldwide licensing and collaboration transactions, international project development and finance advice to emerging companies and their investors, capital markets fundraisings and private equity fund transactions and formations.

Dispute Resolution

Lawyers in our dispute resolution practice advise companies across a wide variety of industries. Often our work is in ground-breaking, complex fields and we have advised on significant high profile cases both in international arbitrations and High Court litigation.

The practice also comprises one of the largest and most sophisticated corporate crime and investigation practices in Europe. We advise our multinational client base on a range of issues including bribery, money laundering, embezzlement and securities fraud.

Trainees choose two elective seats from the areas below. Whilst individual preferences are not guaranteed, we make every effort to satisfy trainee requests and tailor the training contract to specific interests.

Employment and Incentives 

Covington’s international employment practice helps multinational employer clients manage HR-legal compliance projects. Our work includes the preparation of global policies and codes of business conduct, expatriate secondments/global mobility, multi-country project management, cross-border M&A, corporate restructuring, and litigation. Current projects in which we are involved include business and human rights-related compliance initiatives, and gender pay gap reporting requirements.

Life Sciences Regulatory

Covington is widely acknowledged to have one of the world’s top life sciences practices. We advise companies and trade associations, including many of the major multinational pharmaceutical manufacturers, biotechnology companies, and producers of medical devices, cosmetics, foods, food packaging, specialty chemicals, and consumer products. 

Our advice covers a wide range of regulatory, transactional, and contentious matters. We represent our clients before regulators, policymakers and the national and European Courts. The group has been heavily involved in most of the major regulatory developments in recent years.

Technology and Media 

We advise clients on a variety of technology and media issues, as well as copyright, patent, trademark, and IP law matters. 

Our expertise spans such diverse topics as data protection, data security, e-commerce, digital health, social media, online apps, behavioural advertising, geolocation tracking, and biometrics, to name just a few. Our public policy and government affairs team works closely with us, helping clients shape technology, IP, and related laws pending before the European institutions and national legislatures.

Project Development and Finance

Our team advises private companies and international governments on a variety of energy and infrastructure projects. The core geographic focus of the team is in the Middle East and Africa and the London team works very closely with colleagues based in our other offices, in particular Dubai, Johannesburg, Seoul, and the U.S. We advise on all stages of project development including structuring, drafting and negotiating the complex contractual arrangements required to facilitate the procurement, construction, operation, and financing of projects. We work on both conventional and Shari'ah compliant financing structures.

Real Estate/Tax

The combined real estate and tax practice seat gives our trainees the opportunity to experience two busy and vibrant practices in the same six-month period. Our real estate lawyers represent clients in all aspects of their acquisition and development projects, commercial leasing activities, financing transactions and construction projects and regularly counsel major corporations and developers of property. Our tax team works closely with our clients on matters including structural tax planning for global businesses; transactional tax planning for mergers, acquisitions, sales and restructurings; resolving tax controversies and the implementation of efficient remuneration strategies. Our clients range from venture backed early stage biotech companies to some of the largest multinational corporations, sports teams and foreign governments.

The firm offers trainees the chance to go on secondment to either a client or to the Brussels office. Client secondments present valuable opportunities to understand the way our clients’ businesses work, and to develop strong relationships with in-house legal teams our trainees may be working with in the future. Trainees enhance their legal skill-set, develop greater commercial awareness and build levels of confidence. And we know our clients are delighted with how they operate - because they tell us.

A secondment to Covington's Brussels office provides an opportunity to work in the EU competition law practice group (working with other practice groups may be possible). The team advises clients on a range of issues - cartels, abuse of dominance, mergers and State aid - and represents them in front of the European Commission, national competition authorities and national courts. Trainees will work primarily in English, though other languages, in particular French and German, are an asset.