The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
BLM is an insurance risk and commercial law firm with a domestic and international focus. The firm has deep-rooted presence in the general insurance sector and also has a significant presence among corporate businesses, many of whom are multi-national, the public sector and the health and care industry. BLM has 13 offices throughout the UK and Ireland and employs over 200 partners and more than 800 legal specialists.
The star performers
Clinical negligence: defendant; Commercial litigation; Construction; Crime: fraud; Education; Employment: employers and senior executives; Environment; Family; Health and Safety; Insurance and reinsurance litigation; Local government; Personal injury: claimant; Personal injury: defendant; Product liability: defendant; Professional discipline; Reputation Management; Shipping; Social housing; Transport.
Defended Imperial College London in High Court proceedings brought by a former lecturer, which includes a claim for negligence; defended Queen’s University Belfast in a claim surrounding the death of a patient as a result stem cell treatment and trials; defended a claim that was brought against Gwynedd Council by a cyclist on a remote highway in the mountains in North Wales who was thrown over his handlebars when he encountered a large chunk of tarmac; represented the Ministry of Defence in a claim for damages for personal injury that was brought by a former Gurkha soldier injured in an adventure training exercise in Canada; defended a mesothelioma claim on the grounds of knowledge and foreseeability of risk at the material time of the exposure to asbestos in the 1950s.
Allianz; Barbican; Direct Line Group; Hiscox; NHS Litigation Authority; Royal College of Nursing; The Bar Standards Board; Travelers; Unison; Zurich.
Praised for its 'prominence in the insurance field', new Lex 100 entrant BLM is 'a City firm with a high-street feel'. The 'specialist insurance litigation firm' is 'forward-thinking' and 'ambitious' and offers a high 'quality of work but in regional offices'. Reassuringly, many trainees mention working at the firm as paralegals prior to starting their training contracts, with one recruit noting 'I knew the mentality of the firm matched my own expectations'. The training is 'structured' and 'hands-on' with some trainees recounting having their 'own caseload in every seat'. Because BLM specialises in contentious work, it is common for trainees to receive a high level of 'exposure to the civil litigation procedure'. The downside of this is that it can be difficult to gain experience in the 'transactional aspects of private practice'. Nevertheless, the 'variety of seats' on offer was applauded and there is 'significantly more client contact and early responsibility' at the firm, without compromising on a 'good work/life balance'. The 'down-to-earth, nice members of staff' came highly commended. It follows that there is a 'non-hierarchical structure', which trainees appreciate as it allows 'easier communication with all members of the team'. 'Secondment opportunities' were praised, whilst some trainees felt that 'pay and benefits' could be improved. The 'clear desk policy' was also a bugbear. 'Attending the Court of Appeal with a senior partner and one of our insurer clients' and 'confronting a witness with a recording of the event while they were trying to commit fraud' stood out as clear highlights. To work at a firm which 'has a great reputation and drive to be the leading risks and insurance firm' and has the 'right balance of responsibility and training', apply to BLM.
A day in the life of...
Holly Paterson Trainee, BLM
Departments to date: Casualty, Healthcare (current)
University: University of Manchester
Degree: Law with Criminology LLB (2:1); Healthcare Ethics and Law LLM (2:1)
8:30am I arrive in the office, armed with a Pret coffee (50p off for using my reusable flask!) I have some time to review today’s to-do list, check my emails, peruse the morning news, or get a head start with any urgent tasks.
9.00am I have been asked if I want to attend a conference with my supervisor at 11, so I pop over and check if there is anything I can do beforehand. All is under control, so I spend a bit of time reviewing the file. I really enjoy researching the medical elements, and the practitioners specialty beforehand. It’s also essential for noting the spellings/abbreviations of any unfamiliar conditions for my future note.
11.00am Attending the meeting is our client, (the insurer), and their member (usually a doctor, dentist or other healthcare professional). It makes for an interesting dynamic balancing the instructions of the insurer client, with the expectations of the member. We spend a couple of hours discussing the allegations, the available evidence, and realistic prospects. I make a shortlist of follow-on tasks that I will assist with.
11.30am Following the hearing, we walk back to counsel’s chambers to have a debrief meeting with the client. I prepare a list of tasks during the meeting that I need to work on, such as preparing a Norwich Pharmacal application. As a Trainee at KN, you are often involved with all areas of the case: from chasing transcripts at the Court, to drafting affidavits or applications, to being part of all the meetings with the client. I have always been impressed with the fact that our input and opinions on the case are valued and encouraged.
1.00pm Lunchtime, and I am meeting the other trainees, typically grabbing lunch and (weather permitting) heading to a nearby park for some fresh air. We usually swap snippets of our daily tasks to give us some understanding of other departments work and atmosphere. This really helps when it comes to making future seat-choices. When possible we attend lunchtime talks from alternative departments. These are really useful for gaining insight into alternative sectors, and for notable legal developments generally.
2.00pm I begin drafting instructions to an expert in another matter. I enquire if there are any other similar matters ongoing to which I can compare my draft to, and delve into the many documents on file to identify the allegations, summaries, and medical evidence that form my instruction.
3.00pm The department’s Professional Support Lawyer pops over and invites me to attend a telephone meeting between the BLM healthcare departments nationally. The aim of the meeting is to discuss the issues pertaining to gross negligence manslaughter allegations in relation to medical professionals within a hospital setting.
4.00pm I am heading to a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Hearing tomorrow to take note and assist Counsel. I review the documents on the file so I am aware of the allegations the doctor faces, and the evidence before the Panel. I quickly research who Counsel is so I can put a face to a name tomorrow and save the embarrassment of wrong introductions.
4.45pm I am asked if I can assist in collating a bundle a Partner is hoping to send out that evening. I am happy to help as her instructions are always very clear, her files are in good order and she is always very appreciative of your assistance.
5.30pm I review any supervision provided that day, send any final emails, and review tomorrow’s to-do list. I might research into any issues that have peaked my interest that day, or chat to the Trainees about ideas/plans for a social event. A partner in an adjacent desk is probably telling me to go home already and on the days the sun is shining it is likely some trainees will be at a nearby pub. Otherwise it may be dinner with friends, an exercise class, or more likely home to cook up a feast.
About the firm
Address: King’s House, 42 King Street West, Manchester, M3 2NU
Telephone: 0161 236 2002
Senior partner: Matthew Harrington
Managing partner: Vivienne Williams
Total partners: 196 (61 EPs, 135 SPs)
Other fee-earners: 770
Total trainees: 47
Other offices: Liverpool, Birmingham, London and Southampton
Who we are: BLM is an insurance risk and commercial law firm with both a domestic and international focus.
What we do: We have established a deep-rooted presence in the general insurance sector, the London Market and amongst brokers. We also have a significant presence among corporate businesses many of whom are multi-national, the public sector and the health and care industry.
What we are looking for: You should be confident and resilient in your approach and demonstrate exemplary interpersonal written and verbal communication skills.
What you'll do:You will be assuming real responsibility in a supportive environment from an early stage.
Perks: Health cash plans, income protection, retail vouchers, pension, chance to buy holiday.
Sponsorship: BLM will fund the LPC for future trainees who have not completed this. The LPC must be completed with BPP.
Facts and figures
Training contracts available for 2021: 23
Applications received pa: 1,200
Percentage interviewed: 5%
First year (London): £31,000
First year (regional): £22,000
Second year (London): £32,000
Second year (regional): £23,000
Newly qualified (London): £44,000
Newly qualified (regional): £31,000
Apply to:Keely Nelson – Emerging Talent Specialist
How to apply: Please apply online via our website
When to apply: 24 June 2018
What’s involved in application: Online application, online critical thinking test, assessment centre