Macfarlanes LLP

Macfarlanes LLP

Address: 20 Cursitor Street, London, EC4A 1LT




Survey results


The lowdown (in their own words...)

Why did you choose this firm over any others? 
 '‘Strong corporate practice’; ‘reputation for quality’; ‘independent firm’; ‘quality of the training programme’; ‘regular lunchtime seminars’; ‘it’s very profitable’; ‘good-sized intake’; ‘smaller firm with high-quality work’; ‘has a reputation in the City as being one of the best places to train’; ‘range of departments’; ‘reputation in corporate areas’; ‘top-tier private client practice’
Best thing about the firm? 
 '‘Quality of the work’; ‘the firm is very well managed and benefits from having a clear sense of direction in the marketplace’; ‘ability to operate internationally from one office in London’; ‘size of teams means your exposure to high-quality work is really good as a trainee’; ‘my opinion is always valued’; ‘the amount of client contact on a day-to-day basis’
Worst thing about the firm? 
 '‘Pay is too low’; ‘gender imbalance at partnership level’; ‘seat selection process can be a little hit-and-miss’; ‘trainees are sometimes kept in the dark about qualification spaces’; ‘the offices are a bit outdated’; ‘it can be difficult to get initiatives off the ground as people can be slow to change’
Best moment? 
 '‘Completing a deal where I felt that I had added value to the outcome’; ‘reading witness statements that had been produced using an evidence grid I had put together’; ‘being able to give cogent advice to the managing partner of a private equity house’; ‘running my own matter and being congratulated at the end’; ‘being genuinely helpful to people’
Worst moment?
 '‘Spending all weekend doing verification for the deal to fall through on Monday’; ‘reviewing litigation files’; ‘bad feedback’; ‘juggling five deals’; ‘19 solid lever-arch files of due diligence on one deal’; ‘making a mistake and having to go cap-in-hand to the partner’'

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

Ferdinand the Bull – doesn’t follow the crowd as a default but treads its own path

The Verdict

The firm

Macfarlanes is an eminent UK firm and a favoured port of call for major national and international clients. An independent firm, Macfarlanes adopts a rare approach among top-tier City players by developing relations with expert foreign firms to represent clients on cross-border matters. The firm excels in M&A, private client and private equity activity. 

The star performers

Acquisition finance; Commercial litigation; Contentious trusts and probate; Corporate tax; Debt capital markets; Derivatives and structured products; EU and competition; Equity capital markets; Financial services (contentious); Financial services (non-contentious/regulatory); Flotations: small and mid-cap; Fraud: civil; Investment funds: Hedge funds; M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Private equity: transactions: Mid-cap deal capability; Private funds; Real estate funds; Retail funds; Tax litigation and investigations.

The deals

Acted for Altria – the largest shareholder in SAB Miller – on the tax aspects of the brewing giant’s £73bn merger with Anheuser-Busch InBev; acted for Pork Farms on the phase two merger clearance aspects of its acquisition of Kerry Foods’ chilled savoury pastry business; advised Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank on the merger control aspects of their €288m purchase of the National Bank of Greece’s private equity portfolio; acted for Elegant Hotels Group on its £100m AIM flotation; acted for Appleby on the sale of its fiduciary business, Appleby Fiduciary & Administration, to Bridgepoint.

The clients

3i; Canary Wharf Group; Exor; Finsavio; Graphite; International Game Technology; Legal & General; Lexington; Shawbrook; TPG.

The Verdict

Macfarlanes puts an ‘emphasis on training and investing in people’ which is reflected in the firm’s ‘high retention rates’. The ‘first six weeks of each seat’ provides trainees with ‘roughly five hours of training, including workshops and seminars’. Trainees get ‘lots of exposure to quality work’, including ‘premium transactions’. There is a ‘high level of responsibility’ as trainees are able to ‘run matters with minimal supervision but at the same time still have the confidence to ask associates or partners for additional help’. Everyone is ‘intelligent, engaged, ambitious and willing to help by answering questions’. The ‘small teams are partner-led’ and trainees gain the opportunity to learn from senior colleagues first-hand. Current trainees praised the ‘individually-tailored training’ as one of the ‘strengths of the training contract’. ‘High expectations and standards are set by many associates and partners’, and the firm is ‘well managed and benefits from having a clear sense of direction in the marketplace’. Top trainee moments include ‘contributing to the structuring of an enormous deal which made the front page of the FT’, ‘closing a deal’ and carrying out a ‘last-minute interview with a high-profile client in relation to a news story that was hot off the press that day’. There were quite a few grumbles about ‘long hours’, including one trainee who worked a ‘sixty-hour week in four days after returning from a holiday’, but the firm does have a ‘genuine desire for all employees to have a reasonable work/life balance’. Those looking for top-flight and intellectually challenging work in a ‘nice environment’ should consider applying to Macfarlanes.

 A day in the life of...

Florence Barnes second-year trainee, Macfarlanes LLP 
Departments to date:  Tax, corporate M&A
University:Cardiff University 
Degree:Law, first class honours 

8.45am:  I arrive at work in advance of the M&A practice group’s weekly monitoring meeting. This week the meeting will focus on ‘practice points’ and all members of the group are asked to contribute with any interesting new points of legal knowledge they have come across in the last week. I spend a few minutes catching up on emails and preparing what I will say at the meeting.

9.30am:  When the meeting is over I head to the firm’s café for a quick coffee and catch up with fellow M&A trainees before returning to my desk.

10.00am:  I have a call with a client. The client is a UK private equity firm who we acted for on a transaction recently where they were selling a large global group of companies. The transaction was completed three weeks ago but I still have a lot of ongoing work in relation to it, mostly involving distribution of the sale proceeds to a large number of shareholders who held shares through a nominee company. On the call, we discuss the next steps which need to be taken in relation to this distribution of proceeds and agree to catch up again in a few days.

10.30am:  I return to work on a research note I am producing for the partner I sit with. The note concerns the rights of shareholders to requisition meetings of a company and broader routes of action that activist shareholders can take. The note is to be given to the directors of a company involved in a large public takeover, and will require a lot of time and thought. It consumes the remainder of my morning.

1.00pm:  I attend a lunchtime training session with the other M&A trainees. The training sessions we have internally are provided by solicitors or partners within the M&A group and we have them most weeks. The topic of this training session is an update on the new market abuse regime.

2.30pm:  After our lunchtime training session, I spend a while discussing the research note I am working on with the partner who asked me to write it. A lot of further points for research come out of our discussion and I spend some time looking into these.

4.00pm:  An associate comes to my office to brief me on a new matter we are starting work on. A client wishes to make interim dividend payments and is seeking our advice on how to go about this. The associate gives me several documents to draft, which includes sets of board minutes and consents.

6.30pm:  Having made a start on the interim dividend documents, I return to the work on the distribution of the proceeds of the sale that I discussed on the call earlier. I work through a few of the points discussed on the call and then make a list of what I need to finish in the morning. I leave the office and head home at about 7.30pm.

About the firm

Address:20 Cursitor Street, London, EC4A 1LT

Telephone: 020 7831 9222

Fax:020 7831 9607



Senior partner : Charles Martin

Managing partner : Julian Howard

Who we are: Macfarlanes is a leading City law firm with a straightforward, independently minded approach. The driving force behind the firm is an absolute commitment to delivering the right advice in the right way to our clients.

What we do: We are recognised for the quality of our work and people, not just in dealing with the full range of corporate and commercial matters, but in advising our clients on their private affairs.

What we are looking for: We look for a rare combination of character, drive and intellectual curiosity, along with strong interpersonal skills, an ambitious and commercial approach, drive, motivation and resilience.

What you'll do:A combination of hands-on experience with real responsibility and challenge with a first-class education programme and the support you would expect from a leading firm.

Perks: Flexible benefits package including life assurance, pension scheme, private healthcare, in addition to a discretionary performance-related bonus scheme, subsidised restaurant, season ticket loan and gym membership.

Sponsorship:LPC and CPE/GDL course fees, maintenance allowance for LPC students (£7,000) and GDL students (£7,000 in London, Guildford and Oxford, and £6,250 elsewhere).


Facts and figures

Trainee places available for 2019: up to 30

Applications received pa: 900 

Percentage interviewed: 15% 


First year: £42,000

Second year: £46,000

Newly qualified: £71,000

Total partners: 87

Other fee-earners:262

Total trainees:59

 Application process

Apply to:Catherine Morgan-Guest, graduate recruitment manager.

How: Online application.

When to Apply:By 31 July 2017 for 2019 contracts.

 Vacation schemes

3-13 April 2017 (apply by 31 January 2017).

26 June-7 July 2017 and 10-21 July 2017 (apply by 31 January 2017). First Year Insight Day: 30 March 2017 (apply by 28 February 2017).