The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Top 100 firm Birketts posted record revenues for the 2015/16 financial year, announcing a 9.8% rise in turnover to £38.7m. The firm is headquartered in Ipswich, with additional offices in Norwich, Cambridge and Chelmsford. The dispute resolution, private client and real estate practices are all ranked highly by The Legal 500.
The star performers
Agriculture and estates; Charities and not-for-profit; Commercial litigation; Construction; Corporate and commercial; Crime: fraud; Debt recovery; Education; Employment; Environment; Family; Health; Immigration; Insolvency and corporate recovery; Licensing; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Planning; Property litigation; Social housing; Transport and shipping.
Acted for Kingsley Healthcare on a £200m fundraising investment; defended Powerscourt Services against a multi-million pound fraud claim; advised Port Technology Holdings on IP aspects of the exploitation of its personal data store and subsequent disputes; advised adjacent property owners on the redevelopment of Tottenham Hotspur FC’s stadium; advised Muntons on a £53.4m asset-based finance facility.
Archant; Barclays Bank; Breckland District Council; Cromwell Manor Services; Greene King plc; Hitachi Capital UK; Larking Gowen; Norwich Airport; Partizan Films; Patisserie Valerie.
Birketts’ trainees praise its ‘excellent reputation’, ‘friendly atmosphere’ and ‘regional presence’ in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. The firm ‘excels in all core practice areas and give trainees experience working in different parts of the law’. The ‘client base’ was also a ‘massive pull’ for one trainee. Many current trainees applied after completing work experience where they witnessed the ‘friendly culture promoted by the partners’ who are willing to ‘spend large chunks of their days’ with those on work experience and make time to offer trainees ‘first-class training’. Looking at the ‘long-term picture’, Birketts is seen as a ‘quickly expanding’ firm with a ‘good reputation’ for giving newcomers a ‘variety of tasks’ and ‘helpful feedback’. Trainees are given ‘hands-on experience and responsibility from an early stage’, and are ‘regularly talking with clients directly with the appropriate support from supervisors’. The firm offer ‘an excellent quality of life without having to sacrifice the high-quality work’, and has earned four Lex 100 Winner medals. There are ‘departmental gatherings’ and other social events within the firm. Recent trainees’ successes include ‘working directly with the partners on a large corporate transaction’, ‘instructing my very own client for the first time by myself’ and ‘playing a key part at each stage of a client’s claim and attending the hearing where the client won his case’. Despite a few complaints about some ‘late-night photocopying’ and the ‘overwhelming responsibility’, trainees praise the ‘level of respect’ they are given from day one. Take a closer look at Birketts if you are looking for a firm whose partners ‘really care about your development’.
A day in the life of...
Anna Wills first-year trainee, Birketts LLP
Departments to date: Private client, agriculture
University:University of East Anglia
I am a trainee solicitor at Birketts LLP and I am currently in my second seat working in the agriculture 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…
A typical morning: 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 get started as soon as I get in, but not before a cup of tea! I have written down a few points that I need to ask my supervisor and I ask him when I see that he has a moment. After talking to my supervisor I am given a file to work on that requires drafting a deed of variation to an existing lease and drafting a new lease, as well as a letter of explanation for the client. Drafting can take a while and it is essential that the documents match up so I initially draft at my desk and then pop into a private room so that I can proof read away from all distractions.
A typical afternoon: After drafting the documents I ask a colleague a few points that I need clarification on and update my drafting accordingly. We also discuss the team meeting at lunch (including that we hope that there is cake) and review the agenda. Today we have our team meeting. This is a chance for all four offices to get together (normally via video conference) to talk about how we are doing as a team and if there are any issues that are impacting our practice. Today Brexit was discussed in detail with everyone agreeing that no one knows what is going to happen so we will make the best of the situation. A colleague asks me to find some urgent planning permission notices which have been revealed by a local search. This involves talking to the local council to ensure that we receive the documents in time. I receive a call from a case worker at the Land Registry who informs me that they are dealing with a first registration application that I made. They ask me a number of questions which I am able to answer and I type up my attendance note once the call has ended. My supervising partner asks me to do some research on SDLT provisions and I confer with a tax colleague to get some suggestions as to where to start. I give my supervisor an update as to where we are in regard to finalising a deed of variation for a farm business tenancy and he advises me to chase the other side to approve our draft. I also hand over the documents that I have drafted today for my supervisor to review. We make an appointment for the following day once he has had a chance to consider them.
A typical evening: I ensure that all my emails throughout the day have been filed both electronically and on the paper file and I make a to-do list for the following day. 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:24-26 Museum Street, Ipswich, IP1 1HZ
Telephone: 01473 232300
Senior partner : James Austin
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 (x 4 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
Trainee places available for 2019: 10-12
Applications received pa: 300
Percentage interviewed: c20-30%
First year: £23,500
Second year: £24,500
Newly qualified: £36,000-£37,500
Total partners: 59
Apply to:Suzannah Rogers – recruitment officer
When to Apply:Between 1 February 2017-31 July 2017 for training contracts commencing 2019.
June 2017 (apply by 31 January 2017)