The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Top-100 firm Birketts is headquartered in Ipswich and has offices across the East of England in Norwich, Cambridge and Chelmsford. The full-service firm advises businesses, institutions and individuals in the UK and internationally, and has enjoyed substantial growth in terms of size, geographic spread and turnover in recent years.
The star performers
Agriculture and estates; Banking and finance; Charities and not-for-profit; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Construction; Contentious trusts and probate; Corporate and commercial; Corporate Tax; Crime: fraud; Debt recovery; Employment; Family; Licensing; Insolvency and corporate recovery; Health and safety; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Professional Negligence; Property litigation; Transport and shipping.
Advised TA Hotel Collection on numerous licensing applications; advised the shareholders of Medisafe Holdings on the tax implications of the company's sale to US-based company Steris; represented Powerscourt Services in a multimillion-pound case involving allegations of fraud, breach of contract and defamation relating to the operation of farmland in Argentina; represented The Honourable Charles George Yule Balfour in a £30m case brought by Courtwood Holdings for breach of fiduciary duty; advised Lloyds Bank on the multimillion-pound refinancing of a life sciences group.
Archant Community Media; Clydesdale Bank; Forfarmers UK; Greene King ; Nationwide Metal Recycling; Patisserie Valerie; Santander; Silk Industries; Victory Housing Trust; Whitwell & Reepham Railway.
Birketts is 'well-respected regionally and nationally' and the firm's 'perfect office locations' in Cambridge, Ipswich, Norwich and Chelmsford suit the current trainees to a tee. Recruits cited the 'small but not too small' size, the 'excellent client base' and the 'quality of the lawyers' as key reasons for choosing the firm. 'The teaching and support is of a high calibre' and trainees feel 'like a great asset to the firm yet able to ask for help when needed'. Little wonder that Birketts is living up to trainees' expectations and has earned itself a Lex 100 Winner medal in this and five other categories. Trainees reserve acclaim for the 'wide range of opportunities for seats in different departments' and for being given a 'much greater degree of responsibility'. Elaborating on the latter point, one trainee said 'I am made to feel my input is valuable at all times and often I feel the distinction between myself as a trainee and a solicitor colleague is very slight'. Recruits can look forward to 'having your own files from day one' and the opportunity to 'directly contribute to transactions as they happen'. Colleagues merit recognition for being 'the friendliest group of people', which 'does not seem to vary from office to office'. However, the firm's network can cause problems for trainees, who complained about the 'constant and persistent rotation between offices' as well as sometimes 'not getting your preferred seat'. Recent experiences include 'attending big tribunal hearings and winning' and 'being given day-to-day control over a new client'. For 'greater involvement in transactions from the outset' and a 'good work/life balance, whilst also working at a prestigious top 100 UK firm', consider Birketts.
A day in the life of...
Anna Wills second-year trainee, Birketts LLP
Departments to date: Private client, agriculture, commercial litigation
University:University of East Anglia
I am a trainee solicitor at Birketts LLP and I am currently in my final seat working in the commercial litigation team at the firm's Norwich office. One of the best things about being a trainee is that no two days are the same, but here is a standard day…
8.30am: My first job of the day is to check my emails and review my to-do list which I update every day before I go home. I find that this means that I can focus as soon as I get in, but not before a cup of tea!
9.00am: I have noted down a few points from the previous day that I need to ask my supervisor and I ask her when I see that she has a moment.
9.30am: My supervisor asks me to make an application to the court which requires drafting three witness statements and the necessary court forms. Drafting can take a while and it is essential that the witness statements are correct and clear so I initially draft at my desk and then pop into a private room so that I can proofread my work away from all distractions.
12.00pm: After drafting the witness statements and court forms I ask a colleague a few points that I need clarification on and update my drafting accordingly.
12.30pm: Today I am meeting the other trainees in the office for lunch. We try to meet up as much as possible as we're a sociable group and like to have a gossip over lunch.
1.30pm: I am part of the contentious trust and probate team and we are delivering some training to other members of the firm over the summer. Therefore we have a team meeting to plan who is going to do what and decide on when we are going to have a practice run!
2.30pm: My supervising partner asks me to do some research on the foreseeability of loss in negligence claims and I use the textbooks we have in the office, Westlaw and PLC to come to a conclusion. I then produce a memo setting out my findings for my supervisor to review.
5.00pm: I receive a call from a client who would like an update on their case. I inform them that we have been chasing the solicitors on the other side and we are expecting a response by the end of the week. I type up my attendance note accordingly.
5.15pm: I ensure that all my emails throughout the day have been filed both electronically and in the paper file and I make a to-do list for the following day.
5.30pm: I am part of a rounders team for the firm and we go to a local tournament which is a great way to network in an informal setting. I'm not a natural, but I am assured that it is the taking part which counts!
About the firm
Address: Providence House, 141-145 Princes Street, Ipswich, IP1 1QJ
Telephone: 01473 232300
Senior partner: James Austin
Total partners: 59
Other fee-earners: 227
Total trainees: 18
Other offices: Cambridge, Norwich, Chelmsford
Who we are: Birketts is an ambitious, full-service, top 100 UK law firm with a rich heritage, advising businesses, institutions and individuals in the UK and internationally.
What we do: Our business is divided into four main disciplines - corporate/commercial, commercial property, litigation/dispute resolution and private client.
What we are looking for: Applications are welcome from both law and non-law students. Applicants should have a minimum of a 2(1) degree and good A Level results (minimum B,B,B or equivalent), strong interpersonal skills and a common sense approach.
What you'll do:Our training contract comprises four seats, with each one lasting six months. You are likely to spend time in corporate, commercial property and private client teams as well as the firm's specialist practice areas e.g. employment, shipping, tax and agriculture.
Perks: Staff profit share, life assurance (4 x salary), contributory pension scheme, private medical insurance (after probation), permanent health insurance, interest-free season ticket loan, subsidised gym membership, cycle to work scheme (salary sacrifice), childcare vouchers, social events throughout the year, eye-care vouchers.
Facts and figures
Training contracts available for 2020: 10-12
Applications received pa: 300
Percentage interviewed: c20-30%
First year: £24,500
Second year: £24,500
Newly qualified: £37,000-£38,500
Turnover in 2016: £39.2m (+12% from 2015) Profits per equity partner: £264,000 (+2%)
Apply to:Suzannah Rogers - recruitment officer
What's involved:You will be interviewed at the office to which you have applied by two partners and the interview will last approximately 45 minutes. At the interview you will be asked to present for 5-10 minutes on a topic of your choice.
When to Apply:
Training Contract beginning in 2020: Between 1 February 2018 - 31 July 2018.
Summer Vacation Scheme: By 31 January 2018