The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Lester Aldridge is a full-service law firm with offices in Bournemouth, Southampton and London. The 42-partner firm's core practice areas are real estate, litigation, private client and commercial services, and it also has expertise in the niche areas of ports and marinas, waterside developments and assisted living.
The star performers
Charities and not-for-profit; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Contentious trusts and probate; Corporate and commercial; Debt recovery; Employment; Family; Health and safety; Insolvency and corporate recovery; Personal injury: claimant; Personal tax, trusts and probate Planning; Professional negligence; Property litigation; Shipping.
Advised a commodity trader on the $750,000 arrest of cargo on a vessel chartered by the client in the US and represented him during the arbitration procedure in London; defended an insurance client regarding a £2m quantum for a crash injury which resulted in the amputation of the claimant's lower limb; instructed by Rothmans Recovery to act on the proposed CVA of Peartime and later the company's administration; advised Barnet, Enfield & Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust in its capacity as landowner on the proposed development of a new hospital, primary school and 500 additional residential units, which involved a section 106 agreement.
Begbies Traynor; C&G Properties; Charterers P&I; DFDS; Elastic Artists Agency; FRP Advisory; Original Organics; Portland Business & Financial Solutions; Santander; Shawbrook Bank.
Trainees see Lester Aldridge as a 'regional firm with major clients'. Its Bournemouth head office is in a 'good location', there is an additional base in Southampton, and a third office in the capital ensures the firm can also take on 'London work'. The firm has a 'wide range of practice areas' and a 'variety of different departments', with 'particular specialities such as marine law' proving popular. There is 'exposure to high-quality work', with highlights that include 'assisting on winning a Court of Appeal case', 'exchanging and completing for a client who had a tight deadline' and 'advocacy in the High Court'. This year, Lester Aldridge is named a Lex 100 Winner in the quality of work category. The 'low salary' is a common gripe, with one respondent suggesting it 'could be better given the size of the firm'. This is partially offset by the 'excellent work/life balance' - in one instance a partner gave a trainee a “telling off” for not having left on time! There is a 'very good support network' at Lester Aldridge, and respondents appreciate that 'partners take the time to explain things'. This helps contribute to the 'pleasant atmosphere'. Trainees are 'encouraged to take responsibility', enabling one respondent to remark that they 'have had a lot of practice doing the work of a qualified solicitor'. One criticism is that 'the HR team are not as effective as they could be', which perhaps contributes to the 'uncertainty of what seat choices will be coming up'. The firm has 'a very good reputation' throughout 'several sectors', so to represent 'impressive clients' across a 'variety of practice areas', consider applying to Lester Aldridge.
A day in the life of...
Henrietta Dunkley second-year trainee, Lester Aldridge LLP
Departments to date: Real estate development, healthcare and commercial dispute resolution
University:University of Reading
8.30am: I arrive at the LA office in Bournemouth, having walked along the beach to work. That sea view never loses its charm! I prefer to arrive when it's fairly quiet, to give myself time to make a cup of tea and review any emails that have come in overnight. I will also look at the team's calendars to check for any appointments and deadlines.
9.00am: Today is Wednesday, which means that I must prepare for the weekly team meeting. I review any progress that has been made on the matters that I am assisting and/or dealing with, determine what work needs to be done, and update my task list.
9.30am: The dispute resolution team convenes for the weekly meeting, during which we discuss the matters we are working on and delegate tasks accordingly. As a trainee, I find these meetings useful not only to learn about the various matters being dealt with by the team, but also to discuss any questions I have about my own matters. The team is always happy to assist when needed.
10.00am: I am then asked by the managing partner to discuss next steps on a group litigation case that we have been working on. His time is precious, so it is essential that I have extensive knowledge of the matter in order to recall information and answer any queries immediately. I am very privileged to be given a greater level of responsibility and am trusted, among other things, to conduct some client meetings on my own and prepare detailed letters of advice. As always, I attend the meeting with a pen and paper and am prepared to take a detailed note of an impromptu call to counsel.
11.00am: I attend an interactive training session on e-disclosure, which has been arranged to assist the team with a high-value arbitration case that we are working on. I am then tasked with reviewing the other side's disclosure documents using an e-disclosure platform.
12.30pm: I like to catch up with other trainees at least once a week. It's good to talk to people that are going through the same process as you and the trainees at LA are very supportive of each other.
1.30pm: I check my emails and begin to review the disclosure documents. We need to understand what impact the documents will have on our case before we produce witness statements, so this is a high priority.
3.45pm: A member of the healthcare team asks if I can complete some urgent research on injunctions. I make a note of the client's objective and key background information, so I can focus my research. I prepare a detailed memorandum for the team to use as a basis for advice.
5.00pm: We receive offers of settlement from the other side on a high-value case, two days in advance of a hearing in London. I am asked to sit down with an associate to work out what those offers would mean for the firm in terms of costs, and whether we should refuse or accept the same, having regard to the issue of proportionality.
6.00pm: I submit my time recording and normally leave the office around this time. I am flexible and will stay later if there is work that urgently needs to be done, but LA does encourage a good work/life balance so, back to the beach it is!
About the firm
Address:Russell House, Oxford Road, Bournemouth, BH8 8EX
Telephone: 01202 786161
Managing partner: Michael Giddins
Total partners: 38
Other fee-earners: 141
Total trainees: 17
Other offices: Hurn, London, Southampton
Who we are: Lester Aldridge is based in Bournemouth, Southampton and London. We advise businesses and individuals on a regional, national and international scale.
What we do: Our core areas are banking and finance, dispute resolution, commercial services, private client and real estate, which we deliver nationally and internationally.
What we are looking for: We expect you to have academic qualifications, but you are also resourceful and know how to get on with people.
What you'll do:Training consists of four six-month seats in contentious and non-contentious teams. You will have meetings and appraisals with your training principal.
Perks: We offer a range of flexible benefits, training schemes and great facilities that allow our people to work happily and productively. Our benefits package gives staff the freedom to match benefits to their own circumstances and lifestyles including pension scheme, private healthcare options, life assurance, childcare vouchers, professional subscriptions and up to 25 days' holiday.
Facts and figures
Training contracts available for 2020: Approximately 8
Applications received pa: Approximately 120
Percentage interviewed: 20%
First year: competitive market rate
Second year: competitive market rate
Newly qualified: competitive market rate
How: CV and cover letter for summer placement, and online application form for training contract
What's involved: Panel interview with partner in our Bournemouth office
When to Apply:
Training Contract beginning in 2020: By 15 June 2018.
Summer Vacation Scheme: By 1 March 2018.