Burges Salmon

Burges Salmon

Address: One Glass Wharf, Bristol, BS2 0ZX

Web: www.burges-salmon.com


Survey results


The lowdown (in their own words...)

Why did you choose this firm over any others? 
 '‘Located in Bristol’; ‘six-seat training programme’; ‘the quality of the training’; ‘getting a good impression of my interviewers’; ‘the cake’; ‘some niche practice areas’; ‘colleagues are at the top of the profession in many fields’; ‘great vacation scheme’; ‘encouraging retention rate’; ‘the alternative ethos that subtly permeates the firm’; ‘top-quality work coupled with reasonable hours’
Best thing about the firm? 
 '‘There is no expectation to stay late when there is no urgent work to complete’; ‘the support provided’; ‘collegiate nature’; ‘no mergers so far’; ‘everyone is based under one roof’; ‘the cake trolley on a Friday’; ‘the blend of excellence and kindness’
Worst thing about the firm? 
 '‘Lack of control over the workload’; ‘there are not many secondment opportunities’; ‘inconsistency in expectations between departments’; ‘mixed quality of catering’; ‘stuffiness’; ‘an overly sedate nature at times’; ‘the technology needs updating slightly’; ‘printers always seem to break’
Best moment? 
 '‘Receiving a thank you email from a partner for my work on a transaction’; ‘getting experience in court’; ‘being heavily involved in a complex matter’; ‘an all-day completion lunch with a five-course meal and champagne at Claridge’s afterwards’; ‘going on client secondment’; ‘attending a property conference with three partners’
Worst moment?
 '‘Reviewing a room full of files as part of a disclosure exercise’; ‘being thrown in at the deep end early on in my first seat’; ‘rearranging evening plans to work late’; ‘getting three hours sleep one night during a completion’; ‘having my seat changed at the last minute by email, with no discussion’'

If the firm were a fictional character it would be...

Jon Snow (A Game of Thrones) – out beyond the wall but still a lead character, with a great story and some excellent character traits

The Verdict

The firm

Bristol-headquartered Burges Salmon continues to perform exceptionally. Turnover was up 8% for 2015/16, with profit per equity partner jumping 7% over the same financial year. A strong alternative to the London set, the firm has respected corporate, private client and TMT departments. Burges Salmon was named Real Estate Team of the Year at the Legal Business Awards 2016. 

The star performers

Agriculture and estates; Banking and finance; Commercial litigation; Contentious trusts and probate; Corporate and commercial; Corporate tax; Crime: fraud; EU and competition; Employment; Energy; Family; Health and safety; Immigration; Insolvency and corporate recovery; Licensing; Local government; Pensions; Professional negligence; Project finance and PFI; Rail.

The deals

Advised the Department of Transport on the restructuring of the Highways Agency and its pension provisions; acted for FirstGroup on its successful bid for the TransPennine Express Franchise; defended Celtic Energy in a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into the transfer of its freehold interest in mines to a group of BVI-registered companies; advised Gravis Capital Partners on the £96m recapitalisation of Agrivert; advised the Department for Education on the establishment of a corporate vehicle to deliver the social care and education services of Slough Borough Council.

The clients

Bank of Ireland; John Lewis Partnership; Mapfre; Merseyrail; Mulberry; National Trust; The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority; South Eastern Railway; UBS; the University of Bristol.

The Verdict

Burges Salmon’s six-seat training contract is one of the stand-out reasons many trainees chose to apply to the Bristol-based firm. Plus it offers ‘London-quality work without the commute’ and with a ‘West Country work/life balance’. There is ‘one core office’ where trainees get to meet a ‘huge amount of people quickly’ and there is ‘seamless communication across the departments’. Trainees are placed in a ‘position of trust’ where ‘consideration is given to their ideas and reasoning’. There is a ‘friendly culture’ and people are ‘smiling and up for banter’. Recent newcomers champion the ‘quality of the lawyers’ and identify the firm as ‘great to work for’, and Lex 100 Winner awards have been secured for living up to expectations, job satisfaction, plus five other categories. This ‘friendly firm’ has a ‘clear strategy’ and an ‘excellent training programme to help ease trainees in’ rather than ‘dumping them in at the deep end’. ‘Rewarding moments’ for new trainees include ‘finalising a huge real estate deal with a private client’, ‘taking a leading role in a workshop for a large number of clients’ and ‘assisting with the completion of a very complex loan agreement only three months into my training contract’. There are a few grumbles about ‘staying past midnight to prepare trial bundles’ but on the whole the firm provides decidedly ‘reasonable hours’ for its trainees. A client secondment was described as an ‘invaluable experience with maximum responsibility and client exposure’. This ‘ambitious firm’ has a ‘strong position in the market’, and for those keen to take on quality work across a range of departments, applying to Burges Salmon is a ‘no brainer’.

 A day in the life of...

Rayann Fearon first-year trainee, Burges Salmon LLP  
Departments to date:  Disputes, client secondment (projects), pensions
University:University of Leicester 
Degree:Law, 2(1) 

7.15am:  I meet with a fellow first-year trainee and head to an exercise class that takes place a short walk from the office. I enjoy being part of a large intake as we often catch up outside work for dinner, coffee and in this case exercise!

8.40am:  I live very close to the office in an area called Old Market. I have positioned myself very close to the office to ensure an easy commute. Before heading to my desk I grab some breakfast from our restaurant.

9.00am:  I have a brief catch-up with my supervisor and discuss some client emails from the previous night, confirming any ‘actions’ where appropriate. I check my to-do list and order tasks based on priority. I am heading to a corporate finance networking event this evening, so I need to plan my day around that, ensuring I complete any urgent work prior to my departure. I catch up with a vacation scheme student we have sitting in the department who has been helping out on a matter that I am working on and discuss next steps.

9.30am:  Once a week the team has departmental ‘prayers’ which allows everyone to discuss the work they have on, their capacity to take on more, and any interesting events they may be attending.

9.45am:  I am currently in the pensions department which undertakes a variety of work including: trustee advisory; company advisory; public sector; regulatory; corporate support; and incentives. I am assisting with a matter relating to a client who is currently undergoing a tender process to change supplier of core services. Having reviewed the suppliers’ proposals, provided summary reports and completed the scoring matrix for the client I am now preparing a note for my supervisor to pre-empt and assist with any queries that may arise from the client off the back of this work.

12.00pm:  I have been asked to look at a small piece of technical research relating to incentives to assist the corporate department with a query from a client. Incentives is a smaller element of the wider pensions team and is very interesting as it incorporates a mixture of corporate, tax and employment within the work.

1.15pm:  I meet with some of the trainees and go for lunch in the restaurant. The trainees tend to eat lunch together when they can to catch up and see how everyone is getting on in their respective departments.

2.30pm:  I have received a request from the client I am working with in relation to the tender about some further work they would like to be completed to assist with the shortlisting process. This involves reviewing the tender proposals and compiling a comparative table summarising their key services. I discuss my ideas with my supervisor and make a start.

5.00pm:  I have a brief catch up with my supervisor where I discuss the work that I have completed and receive some feedback. We decide on next steps and how I should progress this with the client.

5.30pm:  I review my calendar and prepare my to-do list for tomorrow. I am meeting another trainee and some solicitors at the firm to head out to the networking event. I am still unclear as to where I would like to qualify but I know I have an interest in banking. Therefore, I am looking forward to meeting some experienced banking professionals to discuss the sector in a more informal setting.

7.30pm:  After the networking event, I head for tapas with another trainee by the harbourside. Bristol has such a wide range of delicious restaurants – I am slowly making my way through the list!

About the firm

Address:One Glass Wharf, Bristol, BS2 0ZX

Telephone: 0117 939 2000

Fax:0117 902 4400




Senior partner : Alan Barr

Managing partner : Peter Morris

Other offices: London 

Who we are: Burges Salmon is an independent UK law firm with a unique model and culture.

What we do: Our main departments include corporate and financial institutions, dispute resolution, projects, real estate and private client.

What we are looking for: We recruit ambitious and forward-thinking individuals. We look for a minimum 2(1) degree and the relevant interpersonal skills for success as a commercial solicitor.

What you'll do:Trainees complete a six-seat training contract over the two-year period.

Perks: Pension, life assurance, medical insurance, subsidised gym membership, travel season ticket loans, volunteering days and sports and social club.

Sponsorship:All GDL and LPC fees plus £7,000 maintenance grant for each course.


Facts and figures

Trainee places available for 2019: 30

Applications received pa: 1,500 


First year: £35,000

Second year: £36,000

Newly qualified: £47,000

Total partners: 85

Other fee-earners:270

Total trainees:56

 Application process

Apply to:Frances Bennett.

How: Online application form.

When to Apply:By 31 July 2017 for 2019 contracts.

 Vacation schemes

3-13 April 2017 (apply by 12 January 2017)

12-23 June, 26 June-7 July 2017 (apply by 12 January 2017)

 12-16 December 2016 (apply by 4 November 2016)