The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Burges Salmon counts wealthy private individuals, entrepreneurial businesses and public bodies among its clients, and has highly-regarded corporate, private client and TMT departments. The Bristol-headquartered firm also works with a select number of like-minded independent law firms across the world. Burges Salmon was shortlisted for Energy and Infrastructure Team of the Year at the Legal Business Awards 2017.
The star performers
Agriculture and estates; Banking and finance; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Construction; Contentious trusts and probate; Corporate and commercial; Corporate tax; Environment; EU and competition; Family; Insolvency and corporate recovery; Intellectual property; IT and telecoms; Media and entertainment; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Energy; Planning; Project finance and PFI; Property litigation.
Advised Singapore-based YTL Hotels on three hotel acquisitions from Westmont Hospitality; advised Virgin and Virgin Active in connection with aspects of the disposal of a variety of gyms and health centres; assisting FirstGroup with merger control aspects of its bid for the TransPennine Express; advised Bluefield SIF Investments on a £217m refinancing of its portfolio of solar parks; advised Marks & Spencer on the establishment of M&S Energy Society.
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy; European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; Horserace Betting Levy Board; John Lewis/Waitrose; National Express Group; PwC; Santander UK; Starbucks; The National Trust; Victoria's Secret.
Bristol-based Burges Salmon is 'internationally respected' for its 'technical excellence' and boasts an 'independent, vibrant and friendly' feel. The 'down-to-earth culture' was consistently cited as the reason for the current recruits applying, as was its 'nice location' in the South West, which even enables some trainees to 'walk to work'. The six-seat training contract 'gives an opportunity for a wider experience'. Examples of the extensive experience afforded to trainees include 'going to the Supreme Court for an appeal application' and 'going on secondment to the Law Society's Brussels office'. Better still, trainees' hard work does not go unrecognised, with one recruit enjoying 'completion drinks at the top of Heron Tower' and another 'getting department-wide recognition for assisting with the drafting of a successful pitch'. This year, Burges Salmon is a Lex 100 Winner in three categories, which includes, unsurprisingly given the very positive feedback, the training contract living up to expectations. That said, there were some complaints about the 'large variation between departments in terms of expectations and training'. Despite the occasional stint in the office 'until 11pm putting together court bundles', trainees report receiving 'lots of thank you emails for late nights' from supervisors. The 'supportive, collaborative atmosphere' was a common theme throughout the feedback and the firm is even described as 'a fun place to work' with everyone at all levels 'easy to socialise with, including partners - they are often the first on the dance floor'. To work at a firm which 'values diversity and respects a good work/life balance' which also has 'excellent work and clients', apply to Burges Salmon.
A day in the life of...
Mel Mahon first-year trainee, Burges Salmon LLP
Departments to date: Disputes, banking, projects
University:Queens University Belfast
Degree:Law LLB, 2(1); Law & Governance LLM (Commendation)
7.00am: I get up and go for a run around the harbour which boasts some of the most picturesque views in the city.
8.50am: I live within walking distance of the office which is a great thing about Bristol. When I arrive I grab some breakfast from the restaurant downstairs.
9.00am: When I get up to the office I usually check my to-do list and order my tasks based on priority. I am in the projects department where I normally have a very varied task list across multiple sectors including renewable energy, environment, rail and defence. I have a brief catch up with my supervisor who is interested in what I am doing and he gives me guidance on how to approach different matters.
9.15am: I pick up a task sent by a partner to the 'Projects Trainee' email group where I must research the environmental liability of a client following groundwater contamination. Research is a very important part of the role of a trainee solicitor. It does not simply involve reciting the law but identifying the important elements of the law, applying it to the facts and using lateral thinking to come up with solutions. I make a start on the work with the aim of discussing my findings the following day.
11.00am: I have been asked to write an advice email to a client on their eligibility to apply for a contract for difference. This is a private law contract between an electricity generator and a government-owned company that under this contract provides incentives for producing renewable or low-carbon energy. The energy team is very interesting as it incorporates a good mix of advisory and transactional work.
1.00pm: I meet some of the other trainees for lunch and we head outside to the weekly street food market. The trainees eat lunch together most days where we catch up and make plans for the weekend.
2.00pm: After lunch I send an email with a link to my Just Giving page around the department. Later in the month I will be taking part in a sponsored skydive for our charity of the year.
2.10pm: One of the associates pops into my office to brief me on a rail matter. He has asked me to do a first draft of a train modification agreement that will allow for the upgrade of trains across the south west of England. Projects can be a very stimulating seat as the work requires its lawyers to have deep knowledge of different sectors and this is reflected in their commercial drafting.
3.00pm: I am working with my supervisor on negotiating a ground-breaking battery energy storage transaction and with only 20 minutes' warning the clients call to say they are on a train to Bristol to talk things through. I check my to-do list again and negotiate extended timeframes with those instructing me.
5.00pm: My supervisor and I discuss the client meeting and agree upon any 'actions' to be taken.
6.00pm: I finish drafting the minutes from the client call and write my to-do list for tomorrow. One trainee has emailed the trainee group to go for a drink. We head to a bar close to the office and grab a pint and some food. We are a sociable group who get together a lot after work and at the weekends.
7.00pm: Another trainee and I have tickets for a gig tonight and head to Bristol's o2 Academy to see a punk rock cover band.
About the firm
Address:One Glass Wharf, Bristol, BS2 0ZX
Telephone: 0117 307 6679
Senior partner: Chris Seaton
Managing partner: Peter Morris
Total partners: 88
Other fee-earners: 266
Total trainees: 56
Other offices: London
Who we are: Burges Salmon is the independent UK law firm that offers the best mix of advice, service and value.
What we do: Our main departments include dispute resolution, banking and finance, commercial, corporate, private client, employment and projects.
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 a two-year period. All trainees share an office with an associate supervisor.
Perks: Pension, life assurance, medical insurance, subsidised gym membership, travel season ticket loans, volunteering days, sports and social club.
Sponsorship:All GDL and LPC fees plus £7,000 maintenance grant for each course.
Facts and figures
Training contracts available for 2020: 20
Applications received pa: 1,500
Percentage interviewed: 10%
First year: £35,000
Second year: £36,000
Newly qualified: £47,000
Turnover in 2016: £87.4m (+8% from 2015) Profits per equity partner: £525,000 (+9%)
Apply to:Anna Dixon
How: Online application
What's involved: Application form, assessment centre including group exercise, written exercise, psychometric testing and interview.
When to Apply:
Training Contract beginning in 2020: By 29 June 2018.
Winter Vacation Scheme: By 3 November 2017.
Spring Vacation Scheme: By 11 January 2018.
Summer Vacation Scheme: By 11 January 2018.