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4Lex 100 winners

  1. 1. Job satisfaction How would you rate your overall job satisfaction? Lex 100 winners1 Birketts 9.502 Clyde & Co 9.00 Analysis= Kendall Freeman 9.00 An interesting spread of firms has found its way into this important table this year.= Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP 9.00 Perhaps most strikingly, there are no fewer than five US firms.= Ward Hadaway 9.00 They may not have been offering training contracts for that long in6 Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP 8.83 London, but whatever they’re doing, they seem to be getting it7 Covington & Burling 8.80 right from their trainees’ point of view. The cynical among you may put8 McCormicks 8.75 this down to the huge salaries they pay, or you could point out that the training is9 Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP 8.67 all pretty new and fresh – so there’s been relatively little time for candidates to feel jaded.10 Trowers & Hamlins 8.63 Whatever the reasons, the inclusion of five US firms in this table is an excellent indication of the strength11 Andrew M Jackson 8.60 of their training and their importance in the London market. But what about the firm at the very top of the= Forsters LLP 8.60 table? A new entry to the Lex 100 this year, Ipswich firm, Birketts, is clearly doing pretty well as far as trainees are= Teacher Stern Selby 8.60 concerned. It seems that a good balance of commercial and14 Burges Salmon LLP 8.57 private client work, early responsibility, sensible support, and a friendly atmosphere has made the small group of trainees at15 Ashfords 8.55 Birketts very happy, despite the slightly limited social life. Just behind Birketts is an interesting mix of firms ranging from16 Coffin Mew & Clover 8.50 London shipping and insurance practice, Clyde & Co, to= Kennedys 8.50 litigation-focused Kendall Freeman, through US corporate, Skadden Arps, to Newcastle commercial firm, Ward Hadaway,= Lupton Fawcett LLP 8.50 showing that job satisfaction is a quality certainly not tied to a particular type of firm.= Reed Smith 8.5020 Farrer & Co 8.44= Shearman & Sterling (London) LLP 8.4412 • The Lex 100
  2. 2. Firm living up to expectationsHow far has the firm lived up to your expectations? Lex 100 winners1 Covington & Burling 9.402 Shearman & Sterling (London) LLP 9.11 Analysis3 Birketts 9.00 As in the job satisfaction table, US firms have performed very= Kendall Freeman 9.00 well in this new Lex 100 Winners’ category – firm living up to expectations. Covington &= McCormicks 9.00 Burling tops the list with a very impressive score, indicating that= Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP 9.00 the small number of loyal trainees did their research properly and have= Ward Hadaway 9.00 not been disappointed in their choice of firm. They are happy to have8 Trowers & Hamlins 8.90 ‘interested and responsive supervisors’ and find the firm ‘a relaxed place to work – even9 Burges Salmon LLP 8.83 when there are time pressures’. The international work, clients and opportunities have10 Ashfords 8.82 also lived up to expectations. A wide spread of firms appears in this table, with regional practices,11 Farrer & Co 8.80 particularly those in the West of England, performing well. Bristol-based Burges Salmon and TLT Solicitors,= Forsters LLP 8.80 Exeter-based Ashfords, and Plymouth-based Foot Anstey all sell a more relaxed lifestyle, alongside good-quality13 TLT Solicitors 8.75 commercial work, and trainees are clearly happy that these firms are living up to brochure promises. Interestingly a14 Browne Jacobson LLP 8.73 number of medium-sized London firms, offering expertise in15 Foot Anstey 8.71 niche areas, also feature prominently here: Trowers & Hamlins (with specialisms ranging from public international law to social= Kennedys 8.71 housing); Farrer & Co (strong in media, sport and employment); Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP 8.67 and Forsters (property expertise) all score highly, due to their17 confident, realistic promises to candidates, with no need to= Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP 8.67 oversell themselves. Regional firms with strong characters feature here too – Leeds practice, McCormicks and Liverpool outfit, Brabners19 Jones Day 8.66 Chaffe Street, are known for their outgoing, no-nonsense approach20 Brabners Chaffe Street LLP 8.60 (as well as their high-profile sporting clients) and, again, trainees at these firms are pleased that the reality has lived up to the hype. The Lex 100 • 13
  3. 3. Quality of work How would you rate the quality of work you are given? Lex 100 winners1 Kendall Freeman 9.502 Forbes 9.00 Analysis= Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP 9.00 Leading this table is medium- sized London firm, Kendall Freeman. A winner in an= Ward Hadaway 9.00 incredible nine out of ten Lex 100 categories, the firm is clearly5 Jones Day 8.89 getting things right as far as trainees are concerned. The firm’s= Shearman & Sterling (London) LLP 8.89 practice of involving trainees in real work from day one (including7 Wragge & Co LLP 8.83 meeting clients, taking responsibility for files, and even being involved in8 Covington & Burling 8.80 marketing and client development activities) has met with much approval. The9 DMH Stallard 8.75 interesting spread of practice areas (from insurance and construction to public= Wedlake Bell 8.75 international law) adds to the levels of satisfaction. As one trainee comments: ‘The training here is very11 Farrer & Co 8.70 good – with opportunities to do important and demanding tasks’. Other high scorers include Blackburn12 asb law 8.67 firm, Forbes; Brighton practice, DMH and Crawley-based asb law, indicating that geography plays no part in the= Birketts 8.67 quality of work entrusted to trainees. London firms Manches14 Ashfords 8.63 (known for family law), Lewis Silkin (strong in media and employment) and Harbottle & Lewis (niche media firm) also15 Forsters LLP 8.60 make it into the table. So what do all these firms have in common? The answer appears to be their healthy attitude to16 Lewis Silkin LLP 8.50 involving trainees in as much ‘real work’ as possible from day= Manches LLP 8.50 one. Trainees at these firms do not spend their time photocopying or going on endless training courses, or being= TLT Solicitors 8.50 shielded from clients until they are qualified. They have19 Shoosmiths 8.47 responsibility for their own files, are encouraged to interact with clients and are provided with an interesting range of work to keep20 Harbottle & Lewis LLP 8.40 them motivated while they learn. Many larger, more high-profile firms could take heed from this winning approach.= Trowers & Hamlins 8.4014 • The Lex 100
  4. 4. Client contactHow would you rate your amount of client contact? Lex 100 winners1 asb law 8.67= B P Collins 8.67 Analysis3 Blake Lapthorn Linnell 8.62 Not one of our highest scoring categories, the amount (or lack= Charles Russell LLP 8.62 of) client contact does appear to be something of an issue for5 Russell-Cooke 8.57 trainees at many firms. For some reason, partners seem reluctant6 Jones Day 8.50 to unleash the newest members of their firms on loyal and= Penningtons Solicitors LLP 8.50 unsuspecting clients. While we can understand you wouldn’t want a8 Covington & Burling 8.40 first-seat trainee handling your make-or-break case, surely there must be= Farrer & Co 8.40 room for carefully supervised trainees to at least attend client meetings (even if they’re just= Forbes 8.40 taking notes rather than offering profound Weil, Gotshal & Manges 8.40 advice). So our congratulations to the firms that= made it into this table, indicating a realistic awareness12 Ashfords 8.36 that trainees have to start somewhere, as far as client contact is concerned, and better to do it while you’re still13 Irwin Mitchell 8.20 training rather than leaving it until the day you qualify. Trowers & Hamlins 8.20 Interestingly, the top three scorers in the table are all = regional firms based in the South East of England. asb law15 Boyes Turner 8.17 has offices in Kent, Surrey, Sussex and south London and one16 Shearman & Sterling (London) LLP 8.11 trainee comments: ‘client contact and responsibility exceeds that in many larger firms’. B P Collins is based in Gerrards Cross17 Shoosmiths 8.10 in Buckinghamshire and, again, trainees compare their18 Bird & Bird 8.08 experiences favourably with those at larger firms: ‘we get responsibility and client contact from day one’. Blake Lapthorn19 Fox Williams 8.00 Linnell has offices in the Thames Valley and on the South coast,= Howes Percival 8.00 and similarly, is not afraid to introduce trainees to clients at a very early stage, helping them to feel more involved and gain a fuller= Kendall Freeman 8.00 picture on deals and cases. Equal third in the table is London= Kennedys 8.00 commercial and private client firm, Charles Russell, which has around 30 trainees, who clearly find the client contact one of the most= Teacher Stern Selby 8.00 rewarding aspects of their training: ‘in client meetings you see the reality= Ward Hadaway 8.00 and “emotiveness” of the legal issues and the impact on a client’s entire life’. The rest of the firms in the table range from large US practices through medium-sized London firms to smaller regional outfits. Those firms which fail to make the table are larger London commercial practices with high numbers of trainees. The Lex 100 • 15
  5. 5. Stress levels How stressful do you find your job/training contract? (high score = low stress) Lex 100 winners1 Kendall Freeman 8.002 Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP 7.83 Analysis3 Prettys 7.67 Unfortunately, in the legal world, a bit of stress comes with the territory. But which4 Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham LLP 7.50 firms manage to keep a lid on the boiling pot, while others let5 B P Collins 7.33 fly with the steam? Well funnily enough, you won’t find any Magic Circle firms in this table, nor many= Payne Hicks Beach 7.33 big commercial firms, whether London, regional or US. So well done7 Bird & Bird 7.31 to Kirkpatrick & Lockhart and Covington & Burling who buck the trend and show8 Farrer & Co 7.30 that top-level commercial work doesn’t always have to equal high-level stress. As9 Trowers & Hamlins 7.20 Covington & Burling trainees comment, it is the approachable and supportive staff who make the10 Blake Lapthorn Linnell 7.15 firm ‘a relaxed place to work even when there are time pressures’. While at Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, it is the11 Burges Salmon LLP 7.13 sensible approach to working hours which keeps the stress levels down: ‘other firms may pay a bit more but here you get a reasonable work culture’, and when asked12 Ashfords 7.00 the best thing about the firm, many K&L trainees summed up= Birketts 7.00 with ‘the people and the hours’. Of the other London firms in the table, it is generally the smaller outfits with specialist= Covington & Burling 7.00 practice areas which do well here: private client firm, Payne Hicks Beach; IP/IT specialist Bird & Bird; and Farrer & Co (with= DMH Stallard 7.00 strengths in defamation, family and employment). And overall, there are notably more regional firms in this table than London= Harbottle & Lewis LLP 7.00 ones, adding fuel to the notion that working in the City does= Henmans LLP 7.00 bring with it higher stress levels than the (generally shorter) days spent outside the Big Smoke. So particular congratulations to top= Lupton Fawcett LLP 7.00 scorer, Kendall Freeman, which manages to combine its Fetter Lane location (near to Chancery Lane and the High Courts – but outside the= McCormicks 7.00 City Square Mile) and its commercial litigation focus, with a limited amount of stress. Trainees put this down to the approachability of every-20 Shoosmiths 6.87 one and the good work/life balance. Outside London, Birmingham firm, Anthony Collins; Ipswich firm, Prettys; and Buckinghamshire practice, B P Collins fare especially well.16 • The Lex 100
  6. 6. Work/life balanceHow happy are you with your work/life balance? Lex 100 winners1 Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP 10.002 Payne Hicks Beach 9.33 Analysis= Prettys 9.33 The good news for current and would-be trainees is that4 Kennedys 9.29 work/life balance has produced some very high scores this year,5 Ashfords 9.18 showing that you don’t necessarily have to sell your soul6 Andrew M Jackson 9.17 to ‘The Firm’, as long as you choose wisely. Once again, you7 Cobbetts 9.10 won’t find any Magic Circle or big City firms in this table, and regional8 Bircham Dyson Bell 9.00 firms outperform (by some distance here) larger London practices. As for the= Brabners Chaffe Street LLP 9.00 firm at the top of the table, it can bask in the= glory of having received a perfect top score Farrer & Co 9.00 from all its respondent trainees. Granted there are= Henmans LLP 9.00 not that many of them, (generally 12 at any one time), but Birmingham firm, Anthony Collins, is a= Kendall Freeman 9.00 shining example of the attitude that there is more to life than work. Interestingly though, the trainees here praise13 Cripps Harries Hall LLP 8.90 the work they do as much as the fact that they are not14 Blake Lapthorn Linnell 8.85 chained to their desks. The firm excels in social housing, charities and community regeneration projects and what15 Foot Anstey 8.79 appears to make the trainees very happy with their lives is that they ‘are making a difference, not just making money’. It seems16 Burges Salmon LLP 8.78 to be contentment with their work, as much as their reasonable= Clarke Willmott 8.78 hours, which makes these trainees feel they have a perfect work/life balance. In equal second place are two very different18 Bates Wells & Braithwaite 8.75 firms: London private client and property practice, Payne Hicks Beach; and full-service Ipswich firm, Prettys. Despite their obvious= DMH Stallard 8.75 differences, these firms do have a number of things in common:20 Birketts 8.67 firstly, a longstanding reputation in their niche areas of excellence; and secondly, the confidence in their skills to allow their lawyers to= Boyes Turner 8.67 have time for their own lives and interests, while still serving their loyal= Coffin Mew & Clover 8.67 clients to the best of their abilities. Of the other winners, it is notable that leading regional players such as Manchester-based Cobbetts and Bristol= Reed Smith 8.67 firm Burges Salmon, find their way into this table. This is good news for candidates who want top-level commercial work outside the City, and are looking for a good work/life balance into the bargain. It also shows that Burges Salmon’s high-profile ad campaign depicting rush hour on the tube in the City, comparing the life of a squashed ‘sardine’ with that of a relaxed Bristol ‘salmon’, might reflect reality. The Lex 100 • 17
  7. 7. Friendliness of the firm How would you rate the friendliness of the firm? Lex 100 winners1 Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP 10.00= Lupton Fawcett LLP 10.00 Analysis= McCormicks 10.00 We are happy to report that ‘friendliness of the firm’ was the highest scoring Lex 1004 Covington & Burling 9.80 category for the second year running. There is a good mix of5 TLT Solicitors 9.75 London and regional firms here, and, once again, US practices performed well, with four entries in6 Farrer & Co 9.70 the table. Tied at the top of the pile are three regional firms whose7 Burges Salmon LLP 9.57 trainees clearly have much to shout about as far as friendliness is concerned –8 Shearman & Sterling (London) LLP 9.56 amazingly every respondent trainee from Anthony Collins, Lupton Fawcett and9 Kendall Freeman 9.50 McCormicks credited their firm with a perfect ten. Birmingham firm, Anthony Collins, also scored= Ward Hadaway 9.50 ten in the work/life balance table and clearly has a very happy bunch of trainees. The friendly atmosphere is11 Ashfords 9.45 key to the trainees’ contentment and they find their fellow lawyers ‘genuinely nice people’, ‘with a passion for12 Trowers & Hamlins 9.40 their work’. ‘The friendliest firm in Leeds’, according to its own trainees, Lupton Fawcett is a solid, full-service firm13 Birketts 9.33 where ‘everybody gets on well with each other and has respect for one another’. The renowned friendliness is evident= Reed Smith 9.33 both ‘in terms of socialising and during working hours when15 Charles Russell LLP 9.31 help is required’. Another Yorkshire firm laying claim to the ‘friendliest firm in Leeds’ crown, is the high-profile McCormicks16 Cobbetts 9.29 (with strengths in media, sport and crime). Trainees here are similarly full of praise for the ‘friendliness of the people and the17 DMH Stallard 9.25 fact that everyone is treated with respect’. They are also happy that ‘everyone has a sense of humour – they take their work18 Jones Day 9.24 seriously, but not themselves’. Generally, it is worth noting that most19 Forsters LLP 9.20 firms in this table have a relatively small trainee intake, suggesting that it is easier to have a friendly atmosphere with a smaller group of20 Wragge & Co LLP 9.17 people to get to know. However, overall scores are extremely high in this category and many large firms which don’t appear in this list also scored very well for friendliness. For example, Wragges, with a trainee total of around 50, probably has the largest intake in the list, and with a score of 9.17 only makes it into the table at number 20. The good news is – it may be hard work out there – but it also seems that most law firms are pretty friendly places.18 • The Lex 100
  8. 8. Social lifeHow good is your firm’s social life? Lex 100 winners1 Lupton Fawcett LLP 9.502 Pannone LLP 9.05 Analysis3 Wragge & Co LLP 9.04 Not only is it ‘the friendliest firm in Leeds’, according to its own trainees, but Lupton4 Jones Day 9.03 Fawcett also appears to have the best social life. Trainees and their5 Kendall Freeman 9.00 colleagues enjoy a very sociable working environment, which6 Burges Salmon LLP 8.78 extends into a ‘happening’ social life when they hit the bars, pubs and7 McCormicks 8.75 clubs of Leeds. ‘We all socialise together and knowing everyone’s name from early on is a big bonus!’, comments8 Brabners Chaffe Street LLP 8.70 one sociable trainee. Manchester-based Pannone is well-known for its leading personal9 Browne Jacobson LLP 8.67 injury and private client departments and for its expanding commercial focus. It is also well-known10 Walker Morris 8.63 for its diverse programme of extra-curricular activities and fantastically well-organised social life, hence its high11 Covington & Burling 8.60 score here. Trainees get involved in all manner of events, Denton Wilde Sapte 8.60 from quizzes to pool tournaments to trips abroad, as well= as the normal partying. There is also a ‘regular provision of13 Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP 8.50 cream cakes’ and days off for Christmas shopping. When it comes to perks and social life, it’s pretty hard to beat14 Cobbetts 8.48 Pannone. Birmingham-based Wragge & Co has a good try though, with another high score here. Trainees are a ‘great15 Farrer & Co 8.40 bunch’ who are very happy socialising together, whether it’s= Forsters LLP 8.40 organised by the firm, or whether they just get on with it in the pub themselves. It sounds like the ‘Mars Bar cake’ might rival the17 Baker & McKenzie LLP 8.09 cream cakes too! International firm, Jones Day, also knows how to give its trainees a good time. In addition to the people who are a18 Nabarro Nathanson 8.00 ‘laugh’ and the London social life which is ‘messy’, trainees here get= Prettys 8.00 a ‘bonding’ trip to Washington at the start of the contract and this has proved to be a ‘memorable highlight’. It is good to see a wide Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher cross-section of firms in this table (from international giant, Baker &= & Flom (UK) LLP 8.00 McKenzie, through Liverpool-based Brabners Chaffe Street, to Ipswich stalwart, Prettys), indicating that a less than glamorous location is no= TLT Solicitors 8.00 excuse for a poor social life. The Lex 100 • 19
  9. 9. Vacation schemes If you did a vacation scheme with your firm, how would you rate it? Lex 100 winners1 Andrew M Jackson 10.00= Covington & Burling 10.00 Analysis= Kendall Freeman 10.00 Vacation schemes are becoming increasingly important for both= Kennedys 10.00 law firms and candidates. Firms use them to cherry-pick the best= McCormicks 10.00 candidates and must sell themselves well if they want the6 Reed Smith 9.50 cream of the crop to choose them for their training contract. The= Wedlake Bell 9.50 conversion rate of vacation scheme students to trainees is a big deal for8 Cobbetts 9.29 many firms, with practices like Nabarro Nathanson proud to advertise a 90%= Nabarro Nathanson 9.29 conversion rate (ie 90% of current trainees did a vacation scheme with the firm, were10 Farrer & Co 9.25 offered a job, and most importantly, chose to stay).= Shearman & Sterling (London) LLP 9.25 Vac schemes are also key for candidates to gain an insight into different types of practice, and provide a12 Burges Salmon LLP 9.21 helpful two weeks to make a good impression. Amazingly13 Ashfords 9.20 the five firms at the top of this table scored a perfect ten in this category, and the good news for candidates is that the14 Jones Day 9.17 general quality of vacation schemes is getting better all the15 Baker & McKenzie LLP 9.00 time. At full-service Hull firm, Andrew M Jackson, ‘everyone on the vacation scheme was friendly’; at US practice, Covington & = Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP 9.00 Burling, there were no mundane photocopying tasks to be done; = Coffin Mew & Clover 9.00 while at London commercial litigation-focused Kendall Freeman, ‘I was given interesting work to do even as a mere vacation student’. = Forbes 9.00 At Kennedys (London defendant insurance practice), vacation Kirkpatrick & Lockhart students were enticed by the hands-on experience and fascinating= Nicholson Graham LLP 9.00 real-life work, such as the Hatfield Rail disaster litigation; and at Leeds firm, McCormicks, they were pleased to get a real sense of the= Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP 9.00 hard-working, but very friendly atmosphere and an insight into the= SJ Berwin LLP 9.00 high-profile clients and interesting work. It is good to see this table Simmons & Simmons 9.00 contains a wide spread of firms from large London practices like= Simmons & Simmons and SJ Berwin, to smaller regional firms like Coffin= Wragge & Co LLP 9.00 Mew & Clover and Forbes – showing you don’t always need to have swish offices and flash support systems to offer a good, varied vacation scheme. What candidates seem to appreciate most is being kept busy (nobody wants to sit around feeling like a spare part) in a friendly atmosphere, with the opportunity to experience a range of interesting work. See our article on Vacation Schemes on page 399 for further information.20 • The Lex 100
  10. 10. Confident of being kept on?How confident are you that you will be kept on at the end of your training contract? Lex 100 winners1 Wragge & Co LLP 9.502 Burges Salmon LLP 9.00 Analysis The million dollar question:= Kennedys 9.00 will there be a job for you at the end of your two years’ hard= Lupton Fawcett LLP 9.00 slog? There are, of course, no guarantees when it comes to= Shearman & Sterling (London) LLP 9.00 securing a permanent job on qualification, but it is interesting6 White & Case 8.89 to note that scores in this category vary dramatically between firms. It is, traditionally, an area fraught with7 Thomas Eggar 8.80 controversy and we received many complaints about the ‘uncertainty’ and8 Slaughter and May 8.74 ‘lack of transparency’ surrounding the quali- fication process. Not to mention the problem= Watson, Farley & Williams LLP 8.74 of the firms being unable to accommodate every- one in their first choice of department. For some10 asb law 8.67 lucky trainees, however, there doesn’t seem to be too much to worry about. The confidence factor (shown in11 Foot Anstey 8.64 spades by trainees at the above firms) boils down to a Skadden, Arps, Slate, number of issues: the firm’s past record on retention; the12 prevailing economic climate; how well your firm has per- Meagher & Flom (UK) LLP 8.50 formed over the past year; indications to individuals given in13 Linklaters 8.33 appraisals; and, of course, an optimistic, self-assured attitude (which seems to be a common characteristic shared by14 Clifford Chance 8.31 trainees at some of the powerful firms mentioned in this table). Four out of the five Magic Circle firms feature here: Slaughter= Macfarlanes 8.31 and May; Linklaters; Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy; as well as a number of US firms and other top-performers such as16 Trowers & Hamlins 8.29 Wragge & Co, Burges Salmon and Macfarlanes. This suggests to17 Jones Day 8.28 us that ‘confidence of being kept on’ has as much to do with the robust, self-confident attitude associated with these firms (and18 Lovells 8.26 their trainees) as it has to do with the reality of retention rates. Good luck to them all!19 Allen & Overy LLP 8.2220 Forbes 8.20 The Lex 100 • 21