The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Westminster-headquartered Bircham Dyson Bell expanded its network by opening an office in Cambridge in January 2017. The firm works with clients across a variety of practice areas, with a focus on planning and major projects, public law, corporate and commercial and real estate. These skills complement the traditional strengths the firm has in private wealth, family, employment, litigation, charity and the not-for-profit sectors.
The star performers
Administrative and public law; Agriculture and estates; Art and cultural property; Charities and not-for-profit; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Contentious trusts and probate; Court of Protection; Education: institutions; Education: schools; Employment: employers and senior executives; Family; Healthcare; Immigration; Infrastructure (Parliamentary); Local government; M&A: smaller deals, up to £50m; Planning; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Professional discipline; Property litigation; Rail.
Blue Cross; Country Land and Business Association; County Broadband Limited; Famous Brands; Indoor Bowling Equity; Privé Health; Royal Opera House Covent Garden; Seven Seconds; St John’s Ambulance; The Doctors Laboratory.
A firm which is ‘growing left, right and centre’, Bircham Dyson Bell ‘focuses on public law and public sector clients’. The expanding firm has ‘absorbed other firms and teams’ and recently acquired what was previously King & Wood Mallesons’ Cambridge office. A ‘smaller intake’ allows trainees to make the most of the ‘interesting seats offered’ which range ‘from governance & infrastructure to charities’. ‘More direct involvement for trainees’ sees recruits doing ‘hands-on work’ in a ‘friendly atmosphere’ where ‘the sense is that trainees are an important part of each department and the firm as a whole’. Alongside the ‘better quality training’, recruits enjoy a ‘great work/life balance’, meaning that they get the best of both worlds, which explains why the firm is a four time Lex 100 Winner for job satisfaction, living up to expectations as well as for its social life and lower stress levels. There were some grumbles that there are ‘no on-site catering facilities’ at Bircham Dyson Bell. Recruits also perceive that there is a lack of awareness of the firm ‘outside of legal circles’, although one trainee noted that the firm has been ‘appearing in the media more often’ of late. Some impressive work highlights include ‘preparing a case for a House of Lords Select Committee hearing’ and ‘working on a draft contract for a trade organisation that is now used by over a hundred of its members’. Though there are times when you might get stuck ‘doing verification work’ in your corporate seat, ‘everyone is encouraged to use their CSR day’ and ‘the firm is supportive if you want to set something new up’. Bircham Dyson Bell is a good choice for those looking for a growing firm with ‘a variety of seats available’ and a ‘friendly atmosphere’.
A day in the life of...
Rebecca Longshaw trainee, Bircham Dyson Bell
Departments to date Private wealth, charities, litigation
9.15 am: I arrive at the office and read over the emails that I received yesterday evening and this morning. There are emails from counsel on a medical regulatory matter that we are preparing for a final hearing on, replies from two clients regarding draft letters before action that I emailed to them for comment last night and some internal messages (in particular about the ‘Great BDB Bake Off’, organised by the firm’s CSR committee). I also read through the to-do list that I wrote before I left the office last night.
9.30 am: As the final hearing is next week, we need to file the statement of costs as soon as possible. One of the emails from counsel that I received this morning includes his estimate for his work on the matter which means I can now complete the statement of costs that I drafted yesterday. I add this detail and pass it to the Partner supervising my work on the matter for review. I explain my calculations to him and arrange for it to be filed with the Court and served on the other side.
10.00 am: I prepare a client care letter for a new client that I spoke to (with my supervisor) yesterday. We have been instructed to secure vacant possession of a property owned by a charity and I have been asked to assist because I have previously sat in the firm’s charities team.
11.00 am: I review a client’s comments on the draft letter before action that I have drafted on their matter. I discuss them with the partner responsible for the matter and we decide how best to incorporate them. Once I have made the necessary changes, I finalise the letter and email it to the other side. I diarise the date on which the offer made in our letter will expire so that we can follow it up if necessary. I then telephone the client to update them.
12.15 pm: The litigation trainees at BDB have a lot of involvement with the firm’s debt collection work. This is a really good opportunity to see how the firm is run as a business in practice. I sit down with the other trainee in the department, head of department and the court clerk to review the matters currently in debt collection. I draft a claim form for the court clerk to file and serve.
1.00 pm: I head to St James’ Park with a group of trainees for lunch. It’s great having the park so nearby, especially in the summer. There is a lot of discussion about what everyone is going to make for the Bake Off and how our new seats are going
2.00 pm: The head of department and I have been asked to give a presentation at the department’s next knowledge sharing session about penalty clauses and recent high-profile cases. We do some initial research and then decide how to approach the topic in the presentation. I return to my desk to research practical tips to share with the department.
2.45 pm: My supervisor passes me a letter from a solicitor representing the other side on a claim for an unpaid invoice. I review the paper file on the matter and compile a bundle of documents to be sent on to the other side. I also contact our client to keep him up to date and check whether he has anything else to share with the other side.
3.30 pm: We receive an email from the other side on a professional negligence claim. They have responded to the allegations made in our letter before claim and made an offer to settle. I discuss this with the fee earners on the matter and forward the email to our client with our advice.
4.50 pm: I receive a draft skeleton argument from counsel on a matter that will be going to a Hearing in two weeks. I review the skeleton argument alongside our files and telephone counsel with some questions. I suggest a few amendments to the skeleton and forward it to the partner supervising this matter for his comments.
5.45 pm: I review my diary to check what I have on tomorrow and write tomorrow’s to do list. I then leave the office to get baking for the Bake Off tomorrow.
About the firm
Address: 50 Broadway, London, SW1H 0BL
Telephone: 020 7783 7000
Senior partner : John Stephenson
Managing partner : Andrew Smith
Other offices: London, Cambridge.
Who we are: Bircham Dyson Bell is an award winning, top 100 UK law firm with offices in London & Cambridge. Many of our Lawyers are recognised leaders in their practice areas.
What we do: The firms’ main practice groups are; real estate, private wealth, charities, corporate & commercial, employment, government and infrastructure and litigation. Our clients range from individuals, to public sector bodies, charities and large corporations.
What we are looking for: We are looking for hardworking individuals who will work collaboratively and demonstrate a real passion for learning. They will have high professional standards and demonstrate commercial awareness along with enthusiasm for a career in law.
Perks: The firm offers a wide range of employee benefits including; 25 days’ annual leave, private healthcare, onsite gym, season ticket loan, life assurance, enhanced maternity leave, CSR days, payroll giving.
Sponsorship:We sponsor the GDL and LPC with BPP.
Facts and figures
Training contracts available for 2020: 5
Applications received pa: 400
Percentage interviewed: 7.5%
First year: £36,000
Second year: £37,500
Total partners: 49
Other fee-earners: 119
Total trainees: 11
Apply to: Graduate recruitment.
What's involved: Two stage assessment centre including panel interviews, in-tray and group exercises.
When to Apply:
Training contract: By30 June 2018 for training contracts commencing 2020.
Vacation scheme: By 31 January for vacation schemes to take place in June/July 2018.