The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Charles Russell Speechlys was formed in November 2014 following the merger of Speechly Bircham and Charles Russell. The new firm has 170 partners, over 500 lawyers in total and revenues of £135m, plus a collection of offices in Europe and the Middle East. Private wealth services are the firm’s core focus, and in June 2016 it strengthened this offering in Switzerland with the hire of three experienced partners. Other areas of focus include corporate, real estate and TMT.
The star performers
Agriculture and estates; Art and cultural property; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Corporate restructuring and insolvency; EU and competition; Emerging markets; Employment: employers; Financial services (non-contentious/regulatory); Flotations: small and mid-cap; Fraud: civil; Immigration: business; Listed funds; M&A: mid-market, £50m-£250m; Private equity: transactions: Mid-cap deal capability; Private funds; Professional discipline; Reputation management; Retail funds; Venture capital.
Advised Nike on the expiry of its sponsorship deal with Manchester United; acted for Celesio to obtain immunity from fines following a CMA investigation into an alleged care home medicines cartel; advised Morgan Stanley on the regulatory issues associated with access to new trading venues, new products and MiFID II; advised the management team of Blackrock Programme Management on an investment made into the business by Dunedin LLP; acted for MayAir on its admission to AIM.
Actis; Arqiva; Central Bank of Bahrain; ITV; Kreos Capital; Moneycorp; TTT; VinaCapital; W H Ireland; Westfield.
Although Charles Russell Speechlys feels like a ‘mid-sized firm’, it has ‘international capacity’ with offices in Europe and the Middle East. ‘The firm is not so small that it can’t attract high-calibre work while it is not so large that a trainee feels like just another face in the crowd,’ one respondent summarised. The ‘strong private client department’ and ‘commercial awareness’ were ‘very appealing’ to its recent recruits. There are a ‘wide variety of seat options available’ for trainees to try out, which is great for aspiring lawyers who are unsure of where they would like to specialise. But inevitably there is ‘competition for seat allocations’ which ‘creates uncertainty’. Newcomers were impressed by the ‘good reputation, friendly atmosphere and strong career prospects’ the firm offers. There is ‘high-level work available to trainees from the outset’. Recent recruits reported ‘direct client contact’, ‘completing a corporate deal’ and ‘achieving a good settlement for a claimant after a six-year battle’. Trainees feel frustrated sometimes by the ‘long hours’ and ‘dull administration tasks’. But Charles Russell Speechlys’ trainees are in for a steep ‘learning curve’ as they are ‘instantly a trusted and integral part of the team’. Even though there are ‘not enough social events’, everyone at the firm is ‘approachable, friendly and open’, and the firm is a Lex 100 Winner for low stress levels. Trainees are keen to grasp the ‘excellent opportunities’ on offer, from client secondments to hands-on experience in different departments. People who ‘work hard’ at the firm ‘achieve and are definitely rewarded’. For those looking for a ‘very friendly firm, early responsibility and exciting work’, take a closer look at Charles Russell Speechlys.
A day in the life of...
Nathan Lightman second-year trainee, Charles Russell Speechlys
Departments to date: Corporate recovery and insolvency, private client, Harrods secondment, corporate
University:University of Birmingham
Degree:Political Science, 2(1)
7.00am: If I’m doing particularly well, I leap out of bed at 7.00am and start my day. I usually like to cycle into work – it gets me going for the day and certainly keeps me sharp, especially cycling right along Aldwych!
9.00am: I arrive for work, fresh from running the gauntlet of the City on a bike. I usually have breakfast at my desk while reading through my emails and planning the structure of my day. I keep a (somewhat nerdy) electronic to-do list in spreadsheet form, which ranks my tasks in order of priority. I like to aim to make a start on new work as soon as possible after receiving instructions, so that I can get a good idea of how long the remainder of the task will take me. This really helps both in planning my own workload, and in letting the fee-earner know when they are likely to get the work back.
12.30pm: This is when I usually have lunch, which is a great chance to see the other trainees and to have a hearty lunch at 6@6, our excellent café. There are often training events at lunch as well, which could be anything from technical legal updates to CSR events.
1.30pm: I might start work on a piece of research which a partner has requested I look into. This can range from a very specific tax point (such as the rate at which corporate non-resident landlords are taxed on UK rental income) to a very general instruction to find out what I can about the entire tax system of Antigua and Barbuda. The variety of work available to trainees is very impressive, and means that no two days are ever truly alike.
4.30pm: Since it’s a Thursday, all the trainees, paralegals and associates in the department meet to discuss any interesting or difficult cases or points of law which have come up that week. This is a brilliant opportunity to talk over anything you might have found interesting or challenging, and trainees are actively encouraged to contribute. It also offers a chance for everyone in the department to keep up with what everyone else is doing. The trainees form a supportive network across the firm, and are always a good first port of call for a quick question. It feels like I know everyone well, and we often cross paths at both official firm events and socially. The merger has been a big positive from a trainee’s point of view – it has opened up new secondment opportunities and strengthened various departments across the firm, which can only be beneficial. It feels like everyone is pulling together in the same direction. I have almost always left at a sociable hour so far in my training contract. Trainees are not expected to stay late unless there is a big deal or case in the pipeline, and even when I have had to stay late there has always been someone staying with me. After work I often take part in sporting activities (hockey, football or cricket) with the firm, which is a great way to meet people and to engage with clients.
About the firm
Address:5 Fleet Place, London, EC4M 7RD
Telephone: 020 7203 5000
Fax:020 7203 0200
Senior partner : Christopher Page
Managing partner : James Carter
Other offices: Guildford, Cheltenham, Paris, Geneva, Luxembourg, Zurich, Manama, Doha.
Who we are: Charles Russell Speechlys is one of a small number of law firms which provides personalised, considered advice to dynamic and entrepreneurial organisations, as well as astutely commercial advice to individuals and their families.
What we do: We are uniquely positioned to provide comprehensive advice where these two sets of needs overlap and as a result we work with some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, wealthy families and growth businesses.
What we are looking for: We require candidates to achieve a minimum of a 2(1) in their degree and be able to demonstrate other key attributes outside academia, such as teamwork, leadership, communication skills and initiative. People come to us from all backgrounds and degree disciplines, with a range of views that combine to give us our distinctive perspective on the law.
What you'll do:The two-year training contract at Charles Russell Speechlys is divided into four seats, giving trainees the opportunity to experience a range of different practice areas before qualification. Throughout the training contract, there are regular meetings and reviews between the trainees and their supervisors to ensure they are continuing to receive a broad range of quality work and that they are developing the required skills and knowledge as they progress through their seats.
Perks: Private medical care; PHI and life assurance; pension; season ticket loan; cycle to work; 25 days’ holiday and a subsidised restaurant in the London offices.
Sponsorship:We undertake to pay GDL and/or LPC course fees together with a maintenance grant.
Facts and figures
Trainee places available for 2019: 24
Applications received pa: 900
Percentage interviewed: 9%
First year: £38,000 (London), £31,000 (Guildford), £27,500 (Cheltenham)
Second year: £40,000 (London), £32,000 (Guildford), £28,500 (Cheltenham)
Newly qualified: £63,000 (London), £48,000 (Guildford), £41,000 (Cheltenham)
Total partners: 152
Apply to:Hayley Halvatzis, HR advisor.
When to Apply:By Summer 2017.
Summer schemes take place across June and July in our London and Guilford offices (apply by 31 January 2017).