The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Headquartered in London with offices in the UK, Europe and the Middle East, Charles Russell Speechlys offers a broad range of services. Private wealth services are the firm's core focus, with high-net-worth individuals and privately-owned businesses among its clients. Other areas of focus include corporate, real estate and TMT. CRS was nominated for Commercial Litigation and Private Client Teams of the Year at the Legal Business Awards 2017.
The star performers
Agriculture and estates; Art and cultural property; Charities and not-for-profit; Commercial property; Contentious trusts and probate; Court of protection; Education: schools; Employment: senior executives; Family; Family: mediation; Flotations: small and mid-cap; Fraud: civil; Healthcare; Immigration: business; Media and entertainment (including media finance); Personal tax, trusts and probate; Private equity: transactions; Property litigation; Reputation management; Sport.
Defended Nike on complaints to the Advertising Standards Agency regarding an advertising campaign; representing AWAL's subsidiaries in a large ongoing fraud trial with claims in the Cayman Islands and in the US; advising Sony on all employment matters, with recent highlights including grievances, TUPE issues arising from transactions and compliance with Gender Pay Gap Reporting regulations; led the advice to Nike on a 15-year merchandising and sponsorship deal with Chelsea Football Club; acted for Countryside Properties on the acquisition of land for circa 800 homes in Ebbsfleet Garden City.
Cancer Research; Eton College; ITV; Sotheby's; Save the Children; The Design Museum; Virgin Media; Wagamama; Westfield Europe; YouView.
Charles Russell Speechlys' 'broad spread of practice areas' and 'perfect balance of regional offices with a strong London centre' proved attractive for the current trainee cohort. A distinguishing aspect of the training contract is the 'real chance of doing private client as a seat, whilst still having the chance to work in seats that other firms offer'. The 'range of secondments' also appealed to those seeking a 'variety of work and clients'. 'The size of the firm' is ideal for 'getting real responsibility', 'proper work' and 'good client contact' whilst enjoying 'really decent supervision throughout'. The firm is a Lex 100 Winner in the client contact and confidence of being kept on categories. There is a friendly working environment thanks to 'great colleagues who are keen to help you develop' and 'understanding partners who actually seem to care' which probably explains the firm's Lex 100 Winner medal for lower stress levels. Best moments include 'working on a £50m deal for the purchase of a company that went right down to the wire' and 'being trusted to go to meet a client on my own'. Trainees were also excited about 'working on cases which gained national media attention' and 'meeting with TV actors to discuss their litigation case'. On the flip side, 'bundling for two weeks' was less enthralling. Respondents grumbled about the 'lack of transparency in the training contract process' and 'the lack of qualification opportunities in smaller departments'. However, trainees were generally agreed that they are treated 'as part of the team and with respect'. If a firm that is 'genuinely cohesive and friendly' which has 'high-profile clients' and which views its trainees as 'future associates' sounds good to you, consider Charles Russell Speechlys.
A day in the life of...
Lydia Fernandes trainee, Charles Russell Speechlys
Departments to date: IP litigation, private property
University:University of Bristol
Degree:Ancient history and archaeology 2(1)
6.30am: I find myself up bright and early to make use of the discounted gym membership the firm offers at the Fitness First by St Paul's Cathedral. If anything, the early morning stroll from the train station is worth it - the streets are almost completely deserted and the sun is rising up behind the cathedral - it makes you appreciate the history in among all the towering glass and concrete office buildings, and reminds you why you chose to work in London.
9.00am: I settle down with breakfast at my desk while I read over the daily legal updates in IP law that I receive via email. Before I start on my to-do list, an associate asks me to draft and submit opposition proceedings at the EUIPO before the 12pm deadline. From experience I know this should take no longer than an hour. I quickly update the other fee-earners who had set me work to give them an estimate of how long it is likely to take and to make sure their deadlines have not changed - everyone is grateful to have been kept informed.
10.30am: An associate asks me to assist with a trade mark report for a client who wants us to investigate a potential new logo for their company. I am asked to review and critically analyse a trade mark and domain name search, to compile a table of issues and to draft the trade mark section of the report. I have always found the variety of work available and the level of involvement of trainees very impressive.
12.30pm: I meet up with some other trainees before heading to a lunchtime seminar, hosted by a partner in commercial dispute resolution, on freezing injunctions and search orders. The recently introduced 'Litigation & Dispute Resolution Associates Core Training Programme' encourages partners of the firm to present on a particular area of law and to provide an insight into their experiences. This always proves popular as they often select outrageous cases which stick in your mind and make the topic more engaging. Sandwiches are provided for attendees - bonus!
2.30pm: The partner asks me to attend a meeting with a client who believes his work has been copied. Once the meeting has finished the partner and I sit down and discuss the client's potential claims and what the best course of action would be going forward. The partner was interested in what I thought and was keen for me to get involved in the matter. I am always pleasantly surprised by the level of responsibility afforded to trainees here at Charles Russell Speechlys and feel that fee-earners on all levels genuinely want to invest their time in your training.
4.00pm: When I get back to my desk I make an attendance note to record what was discussed in the meeting. I spend the next couple of hours reviewing the documentation the client has provided and I draft a letter before claim to the infringer. I amend the letter with the partner's comments and prepare for the letter to be sent out the following day.
6.30pm: I finish up the day by completing outstanding administration tasks, recording my time and, as it's a Thursday, I join the other trainees down at our usual haunt, 'Smiths' of Smithfield, in time for happy hour. Because of the relatively small intake for a City firm, we all know each other really well, forming an internal network within the firm, which comes in useful more often than you think. It's also a good opportunity to meet up with those trainees who are on one of the firms' many client secondments.
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
Total partners: 163
Other fee-earners: 425
Total trainees: 50
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 that provides personalised, considered advice to dynamic and entrepreneurial organisations, as well as astutely commercial advice to individuals and their families. 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: Benefits include 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.
Facts and figures
Training contracts available for 2020: 24
Applications received pa: 800
Percentage interviewed: 10%
First year: £38,000 (London), £32,000 (Guildford), £28,500 (Cheltenham)
Second year: £40,000 (London), £33,000 (Guildford), £29,500 (Cheltenham)
Newly qualified: £64,000 (London), £49,000 (Guildford), £41,000 (Cheltenham)
Turnover in 2016: £140m (+4% from 2015) Profits per equity partner: £427,000 (+31%)
Apply to:Hayley Halvatzis, graduate recruitment manager.
What's involved: Video interview and assessment day which includes a face-to-face interview and other exercises designed to assess identified performance criteria.
When to Apply:
Training Contract: By 30 June 2018.
Summer Vacation Scheme: By 31 January 2018.