The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
CMS recorded an 8.4% revenue rise in 2015 for its ten member firms in Europe, and in February 2016 became the first international firm to launch in Iran. The firm is valued by clients for its leadership in real estate and natural resources. It was nominated for the CSR Team of the Year gong at the Legal Business Awards 2016.
The star performers
Banking and finance; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Corporate tax; Crime: fraud; Debt capital markets; Derivatives and structured products; EU and competition; Employment; Equity capital markets; Financial services (non-contentious/regulatory); Flotations: small and mid-cap; Immigration; Insolvency and corporate recovery; Listed funds; M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+; Pensions; Securitisation; Unit trusts, OEICs and investment trusts; Venture capital.
Advised Belltown Power on its £66m acquisition of a 50% interest in the Frodsham Wind Farm project from Peel Energy; acted for HSBC and Bank of Scotland as lead arrangers in a £210m financing to Miller Homes and certain subsidiaries; acted for Standard Life Investments in a highly complex business integration with Ignis Asset Management; acted for Sovereign Capital during the £92m sale of Alcumus Group to Inflexion; advised Johnson & Johnson on the $1.9bn sale of Cordis in the UK and Ireland to Cardinal Health.
Chubb; Clydesdale Bank; Deloitte; Diageo; Goldman Sachs; QBE; Santander; Schlumberger; Skrill Group; Viatel.
‘Forward-looking’ CMS Cameron McKenna is an ‘ambitious firm’ with a vast ‘international network’ that is particularly ‘strong in Europe’. The ‘internationally-focused firm’ is a Lex 100 Winner for its overseas opportunities and provides a ‘unique hands-on experience’ for trainees which is both ‘very rewarding’ and ‘totally different’ to that of peers. CMS is described as a ‘top firm’ that is a ‘leader in natural resources’ and also real estate. The ‘commitment to investing in people’ is evident as the firm offers ‘first-class training opportunities’ and ‘quality training’, though the ‘poor trainee retention rates’ are of concern to many new recruits. But it is a ‘human firm’, with trainees at the heart of it, and ‘impressive clients and law firm rankings’ go hand-in-hand. Notably, ‘CMS seems to have the best of both worlds: the best work while maintaining its persona as personable and friendly’. ‘Big egos’ and ‘arrogant staff’ aren’t a problem here as the atmosphere is ‘very supportive and people are friendly’. There is ‘great supervision’ provided for the new recruits and the ‘fee-earners are approachable’ as there isn’t a ‘rigid hierarchy’. Nevertheless, trainees should expect nothing less than hard work and will be expected to handle City working hours, whether that is ‘working weekends’, ‘managing a double all-nighter’ or ‘the unpredictability of hours’. But there is said to be ‘no face-time culture’. Trainee highlights include ‘sealing a deal’, ‘attending face-to-face client meetings’ and ‘being assigned a great deal of responsibility throughout a large project’. If you are looking for a challenge at a ‘friendly firm’ with a ‘good reputation’ and an ‘international footprint’, keep CMS Cameron McKenna in mind.
A day in the life of...
Adam Beach trainee solicitor, CMS London
Departments to date: Corporate, a secondment to CMS Mexico (City), oil and gas, and technology
Degree:Law, LLB, 2(1)
9.00am: I arrive at the office having been to the gym and have a hearty breakfast of poached eggs, avocado and smoked salmon from our staff canteen, Cannons. I watch the news and check my phone for any urgent emails, then head to my desk.
9.30am: Unless there is something urgent that has arrived overnight or that I have planned to do first thing, I arrive at my desk and have a look at my to-do list, which I have prepared the night before. One of the key aspects of being a trainee is keeping on top of various tasks and prioritising appropriately. I usually prepare a to-do list at the start of the week and add to it as things crop up, ranking the tasks in order of importance.
10.00am: We are currently advising one of the firm’s key clients on a substantial asset sale in a multi-faceted deal covering several practice groups. I have a call with one of the senior associates in our Aberdeen office, who gives me instructions on drafting a term sheet for one aspect of the deal. The client is quite strict on fees, so I must make sure that I work efficiently in producing the draft.
11.30am: On the same deal, I am keeping track of the billing time recorded by all the lawyers involved, which is then sent to the client on a weekly basis. One of the lawyers has not closed her time sheet, so I give her a call and remind her to do so (never a fun phone call!).
12.15pm: A partner in my team urgently needs a letter translated from Spanish to English for a transaction involving a Colombian client. Sensing the consequences for missing the deadline, I drop everything and use one of the office’s quiet rooms to translate the letter without any interruptions.
1.00pm: Having managed to finish the translation on time, I meet some other trainees for lunch. We grab some sushi and sit by the Thames, enjoying the sunshine.
1.45pm: Feeling suitably refuelled, I get back to my desk and prepare for a meeting taking place at 3.00pm. Our client wants to start a joint venture in Africa, and I am meeting with him and a partner to discuss how the joint venture will be structured. I prepare a checklist that we will work through at the meeting, the answers to which will then be incorporated into a joint venture agreement.
3.00pm: The client arrives and we greet him in reception. He isn’t interested in legal jargon, so we boil everything down to simplistic but commercial terminology. After going through the questionnaire with the client, the partner asks me to draft the joint venture agreement and send him a first draft that afternoon. I go onto our system and find a precedent agreement, which I then tailor according to what the client spoke about during the meeting. 6.00pm: I finish drafting and send my work over to the partner, whose initial reaction seems positive. We will go over the draft tomorrow and make any necessary amendments before sending out to the client for review.
6.30pm: I have a football match for CMS that kicks off at 7.30pm, so I cycle over to the pitches in Haggerston. It is our final league fixture before a break – hopefully we will finish the season well!
About the firm
Address:Cannon Place, 78 Cannon Street, London, EC4N 6AF
Telephone: 020 7367 3000
Fax:020 7367 2000
Senior partner : Penelope Warne
Managing partner : Stephen Millar
Other offices: London, Bristol, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Who we are: CMS is a top global elite firm and the most modern with 60 offices in 34 countries.
What we do: Our lawyers advise international clients across all types of commercial law, including corporate, banking and finance, energy, intellectual property and real estate. We advise many of the world’s leading corporations, financial institutions and government organisations.
What we are looking for: We welcome exceptional law and non-law graduates who can contribute fresh thinking, an international outlook and formidable analytical skills.
What you'll do:Our training contracts offer a variety of responsibilities and interesting work across four seats. You’ll enjoy access to senior partners and the support and autonomy you need to develop your talent and expertise.
Perks: Gym membership/subsidy, life assurance, pension scheme with firm contributions, private healthcare, season ticket loan, confidential care line, subsidised restaurant and 25 days’ holiday with options to buy a further five days. You are also guaranteed to spend a seat outside your home office on a client, regional or international secondment.
Sponsorship:All of our trainees receive sponsorship through the GDL and LPC (or PEAT for Scotland), including tuition fees, as well as a maintenance grant for each year of study.
Facts and figures
Trainee places available for 2019: 50+
Applications received pa: 1,500
Percentage interviewed: 15-20%
First year: £40,000
Second year: £45,000
Newly qualified: £67,500
Total partners: 860
Apply to:Danny Cash, graduate recruitment and development team leader.
When to Apply:Please visit website.
Please visit our website.