Burness Paull LLP

Burness Paull LLP

Address: 50 Lothian Road, Edinburgh, EH3 9WJ

Web: www.burnesspaull.com

Email: hranddevelopment@burnesspaull.com


Survey results


The lowdown (in their own words...)

Why did you choose this firm over any others? 
 '‘Sterling reputation’; ‘performed well during recession’; ‘opportunity to work closely with partners at the top of the game’; ‘opportunity to be part of growth’; ‘based solely in Scotland’; ‘enjoyed the summer placement’; ‘clear vision of where it wants to be in the legal market’; ‘specialises in a number of areas’; ‘positive feedback from trainees already at the firm’; ‘I enjoyed my interview’
Best thing about the firm? 
 '‘Social things going on’; ‘absence of hierarchy’; ‘sense of friendliness’; ‘wide variety of seat opportunities’; ‘inclusive atmosphere’; ‘incredibly knowledgeable colleagues’; ‘the lack of egos’; ‘the culture of the firm lends itself to development’; ‘fee-earners are not scared to give responsibility to trainees who show themselves to be competent’; ‘generally brilliant colleagues’; ‘the majority of management are accessible’
Worst thing about the firm? 
 '‘Lack of international secondment opportunities’; ‘departments are not all held to the same standard of trainee care and training’; ‘not much team-building opportunities within your department’; ‘working hours can be tough’; ‘there seems to be a divide between the offices’; ‘there are very limited opportunities for court experience for second-year trainees’
Best moment? 
 '‘Receiving glowing feedback on a particular piece of work’; ‘completing a large matter and receiving thanks from the client for doing so’; ‘going on secondment to a major new client’; ‘writing and publishing an IP blog’; ‘being involved in a large property deal’; ‘attending client meetings’; ‘being involved in preparing for tribunal’; ‘seeing a matter through to completion by myself’; ‘being trusted by the partner in my team with a piece of detailed work’
Worst moment?
 '‘A string of 10pm and later finishes to complete a matter’; ‘seat preferences submitted not always corresponding to seat moves’; ‘spending days on end with only admin work in a particular division’; ‘making a mistake and knowing it was due to my own hastiness’; ‘preparing for an NQ interview was quite stressful’'

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

Riley (Inside Out) – lots of characters inside pull together to make it look like one from the outside

The Verdict

The firm

A market-leading firm in Scotland, Burness Paull has offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. The 250-strong team of lawyers is led by over 50 partners. Corporate, infrastructure and real estate matters are handled across the three offices, while Aberdeen is a key point of contact for clients in the oil and gas industry. 

The star performers

Banking and finance; Charities and not-for-profit; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Corporate and commercial; Crime: fraud; EU and competition; Employment; Environment; Health and safety; IT and telecoms; Intellectual property; Local government; Media and entertainment; Oil and gas; Pensions; Planning; Property litigation; Sport; Unit trusts, OEICs, and investment trusts.

The deals

Acted for Standard Life during its acquisition of Pearson Jones from Skipton Building Society; represented Vodafone in litigation that has UK-wide ramifications for all telecoms operators working under the Telecommunications Code; assisted Bank of Scotland with the £30m financing to a consortium of investors for the acquisition of Tulloch Homes; advised ITN on its contracts with on-air talent; advised Canadian-listed oil company Sterling Resources on the $42.5m sale of its Romanian oil and gas interests to the Carlyle Group.

The clients

BlackRock; Ecotricity; Everton Football Club; Falkirk Council; KKR; Maersk; Santander; Scottish Enterprise; Stewart Milne Group; Technip.

The Verdict

Burness Paull is a ‘top-tier firm with a good strategy and great client contact’ based solely in Scotland and with a focus on ‘Scottish clientele’. This ‘established firm’ is ‘forward-thinking’ and ‘well regarded in the industry’, with a ‘clear vision of where it wants to be in the legal market’. Well-known specialisms include oil and gas, corporate, infrastructure and real estate. There are ‘great opportunities for trainees to get involved in’, including ‘exciting and challenging transactions’. Although there are ‘occasional long hours and very late nights’, the firm organises many ‘social events’ and encourages a ‘healthy work/life balance’ in order to ‘set itself apart from other law firms’, and trainee feedback has led to a Lex 100 Winner gong in our social life category. Trainees describe a ‘thoroughly rewarding experience’ and their best moments include ‘working on a major case’, ‘receiving positive feedback’ and ‘being trusted with an NQ’s work at an early stage’. Trainees also have the ‘opportunity to make their mark’ during the ‘in-depth training’. Partners ‘take the time’ to build ‘strong relationships’ with the trainees and are ‘receptive to new ideas’. But sometimes trainees report feeling under ‘too much pressure’ and being set ‘unrealistic goals’ while there is ‘no certainty of receiving an NQ position’. However, newcomers have loved their secondments where they received ‘significant responsibility and exposure to a wide variety of legal matters’, which ‘allowed trainees to prepare better advice and assistance for clients in the future’. Burness Paull has a ‘social atmosphere’ and puts trainees ‘in a good position for their future career’ in the legal profession.

 A day in the life of...

Alexander Watt trainee solicitor, Burness Paull 
Departments to date:  Banking; corporate finance; Standard Life secondment
University:University of Aberdeen 
Degree:LLB (Hons), 1st 

8.20am:  I aim to get into the office for around 8.20 or 8.30am. This allows me to consider the list of tasks I have for the day and reread any emails I received on my BlackBerry the night before.

9.00am:  I have been working on a large transaction involving the sale and purchase of a company. We are acting for the buyers and are therefore required to carry out due diligence. I had previously drafted the initial corporate aspect of the due diligence report which was then passed to my colleague for review. I spend most of the morning going through their comments and making the necessary changes. I then double- check the report to ensure that there are no mistakes.

11.00am:  A colleague has asked me to research a specific point which may have an impact on a sale and purchase agreement we are negotiating. There is a relatively tight deadline on this, as one of the partners of the firm is required to get back to the client today on the point. As trainees, we are often required to research very specific queries and produce an answer in a relatively short space of time (while also concurrently dealing with all of our emails and other ongoing work)! I research the area and produce a note summarising my conclusion.

1.00pm:  At lunchtime, I often meet up with the other trainees and discuss the different types of work going on in the firm and what everyone is up to in the evening.

2.00pm:  Having completed the research task, a senior colleague has asked me to draft corporate ancillaries for an ongoing transaction. Again, the client has requested a quick turnaround. I consider what is required by searching our internal bank of pro forma documents and previous drafts on our system.

4.00pm:  A colleague has asked me to complete a company search report on a target company. This involves reviewing information available on Companies House to gain an understanding of the company. It is an important task which can help flesh out any issues with the company’s constitutional documents which can then have an impact on the deal structure. Having completed my most urgent tasks for the day, I start preparing a bible of documents for a completion that has recently completed.

6.00pm:  I normally leave the office at around 6.00 or 7.00pm. We are sometimes required to stay longer but are encouraged to leave if there is nothing urgent. I make a list of actions for tomorrow before leaving for the night.

About the firm

Address:50 Lothian Road, Edinburgh, EH3 9WJ

Telephone: 0131 473 6182




Managing partner : Ian Wattie

Other offices: Aberdeen, Glasgow. 

Who we are: We are a top-tier commercial law firm serving a UK and international client base from Scotland. At the last count we were advising clients in more than 60 jurisdictions.

What we do: We work across sectors that are vital to our economy, with a focus on oil and gas, financial sector, property and infrastructure, and corporate Scotland.

What we are looking for: We’re looking for academically excellent, well rounded, focused and sharp individuals.

What you'll do:During your two-year traineeship you will have four stimulating six-month seats in four practice areas. We are also recognised for the quality of our extensive training programme.

Perks: Competitive salary; holiday entitlement; contributory pension plan; bonus scheme; life assurance; legal discounts; healthcare benefits, including a health cash plan; interest-free season ticket loans for commuting; reduced rates for city-centre car parking; cycle-to-work scheme.

Sponsorship:Payment of Diploma of Legal Practice.


Facts and figures

Trainee places available for 2019: 16

Applications received pa: 290 

Percentage interviewed: 20% 


Total partners: 59

Other fee-earners:198

Total trainees:42

 Application process

Apply to:Lorna Macaulay, graduate recruitment and development advisor.

How: Online.

When to Apply:See website for deadline dates.

 Vacation schemes

Insight day. See website for details.

Six weeks during June, July and August. See website for application process details.