The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Headquartered in London, UK firm Mills & Reeve also has offices in five other key UK cities: Birmingham, Cambridge, Leeds, Manchester and Norwich. The firm advises a mix of high-net-worth individuals, multinational corporations, start-ups and public sector organisations. Mills & Reeve is renowned for having an excellent family law team and for its expertise in real estate, corporate and TMT law.
The star performers
Agriculture and estates; Banking and finance; Biotechnology; Charities and not-for-profit; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Corporate and commercial; Construction; Contentious trusts and probate; Corporate tax; Education; Employment; EU and competition; Family; Health; Health and safety; Immigration; Insolvency and corporate recovery; Intellectual property; IT and telecoms; Licensing; Pensions; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Planning; Professional negligence; Project finance and PFI; Property litigation; Sport.
Advised Midwich on its £165m AIM listing, which included a £75m fundraising round and involved cross-border due diligence due to the company's interests in France, Germany and Australasia; acted on the acquisition of graduate recruitment website Milkround Online Limited by client StepStone UK Holding Limited; acted for the trustee landowners of the Kirton Estate on negotiations for an option for cabling easement for a large section of the estate; advised The Federation of European Biochemical Societies on potential liabilities arising from the cancellation of its annual congress in Turkey in light of the country's political unrest; acted for Cardiff University in a £300m public bond issue.
ABN AMRO Commercial Finance; AstraZeneca; C U Pension Trustees Limited; Boilerjuice; HSBC; Kaplan International Colleges UK; Lotus Cars Limited; Paypoint; Redgate Software; Trinity College Cambridge.
Respondents rave about Mills & Reeve's 'great reputation' as a firm that can offer 'exposure to City-level work, but with a regional feel'. This means a combination of 'high-profile clients' typical of London, yet 'without City hours'. The '6 x 4-month seat rotation' ensures trainees are exposed to a 'variety of work' across 'numerous sectors'. Recruits are 'given the responsibility to lead files' and 'encouraged to run smaller matters', and work highlights have included 'being the sole solicitor at an urgent application hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice' and 'a £40m construction adjudication'. The main complaint is reserved for the 'trainee salary', particularly among trainees based in Cambridge as they do not believe it reflects the cost of living in the city. The firm's 'exceptional' vacation scheme 'highlighted the fantastic culture' at Mills & Reeve, and the firm is named a Lex 100 Winner in the vacation scheme category, as well as in four others. There can be 'different levels of supervision between teams', and one trainee mentions 'not always receiving adequate feedback'. Overall, though, the firm 'really believes in investing in individuals at an early stage in order to make them great lawyers', and the 'supportive colleagues and supervisors make a real effort to get to know you', showing that they 'genuinely care about trainees'. Not only are there 'regular social activities' and 'some great firm sports teams', but trainees are also 'actively encouraged to go home in the evenings if we don't have any urgent work on our desk'. This whole package contributes to the firm being 'a really enjoyable and fantastic place to work'. To 'work alongside experienced partners' who will 'trust you to have direct contact with clients', add Mills & Reeve to your shortlist.
A day in the life of...
Katherine Wackett first-year trainee, Mills & Reeve (Cambridge)
Departments to date: Real estate disputes, family and corporate
University:University of Oxford
Degree:Ancient and modern history
8.30am: I tend to leave home around 8.30 or a little earlier, and enjoy a leisurely walk to work (trying to avoid any rogue cyclists on my way).
8.50am: I arrive at work and settle in (make a cup of tea!). I almost always start my day by checking my emails to see if anything important has come in since I left the evening before. If it has, I will re-assess my to-do list and make sure any urgent matters are dealt with first.
9.30am: Once a week, we have a team meeting. Everyone in the team gives a brief summary of what their week is looking like, for example whether they have capacity or are out of the office in meetings all week. This is really helpful as it gives trainees an opportunity to let their team know if they have capacity, or offer to help if other members of the team are very busy. It also gives trainees a really good insight into the type of work that is coming in and the way their team works.
10.00am: My supervisors have all been very accessible and willing to give me time when I have needed it, but we also meet once a week to discuss any concerns and generally catch up on my workload.
12.30pm: The trainees, secretaries and associates usually get together and have lunch in the canteen upstairs. The food is pretty good, and if the weather is nice we will go for a walk in the Botanic Gardens which are next door. Sometimes there is training at lunchtime which everyone is welcome to attend so as a trainee I try to go to these as I find it is useful to know about what is going on in other areas of law, even if not directly relevant to my current seat.
1.30pm: My afternoon tends to be broken up with smaller tasks, which are often new queries that have come in from clients or other fee-earners during the morning and lunchtime. I will often spend the afternoon amending documents, sending emails or on the phone with clients, the other side, or fee-earners in our other offices.
5.00pm: Provided I have finished any matter-related work that needs doing that day, I will deal with more administrative issues, such as updating my trainee diary, drafting an article for one of our blogs or making sure my time-recording is up to date.
5.45pm: I will check with my team whether there is anything they need me to do before I leave for the day. If not, I check my emails again and re-assess my to-do list before I leave so I know roughly what the next day will look like. Usually I leave between 5.45 and 6.15, unless I am particularly busy but life-work balance is highly valued at Mills & Reeve so I don't often stay much later. If there is an event organised by one of the professional groups in Cambridge (gin tasting, bowling, murder mystery) most of the trainees will go along, or on a Friday most people go for a drink in the pub next door. Otherwise, I head home and wonder what tomorrow will look like…
About the firm
Address:Botanic House, 100 Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 1PH
Telephone: 01223 222336
Senior partner : Justin Ripman
Managing partner : Claire Clarke
Other offices: Birmingham, Cambridge, Leeds, London, Manchester and Norwich.
Who we are: Mills & Reeve is a major UK law firm renowned for its outstanding service to national and international clients, for its collaborative culture and deep sector expertise.
What we do: Core sectors are: corporate and commercial, banking and finance, education, family, food and agribusiness, healthcare, insurance, private wealth, real estate investment, sport and technology.
What we are looking for: We welcome candidates from both law and non-law disciplines who already have or expect a 2(1) degree or equivalent. You will need to be highly motivated with excellent interpersonal skills, confidence, commercial awareness, a professional attitude and be ready to accept early responsibility.
What you'll do:Trainees complete six four-month seats. An in-house training programme, developed by our team of professional support lawyers, supports the PSC. Performance is assessed by informal reviews during the seat and a more formal review at the end of each seat.
Perks: Flexible benefits scheme, pension scheme, life assurance, bonus scheme, 25 days' holiday a year, a sports and social committee, subsidised restaurant, season ticket loan, employee assistance programme.
Sponsorship:Full course fees for the LPC and GDL. Maintenance grant during the LPC year and GDL year.
Facts and figures
Training contracts available for 2020: 20
Applications received pa: 950
Percentage interviewed: 7%
First year: £26,000
Second year: £27,500
Newly qualified: £41,000
Turnover in 2016: £87.2m (+7% from 2015) Profits per equity partner: £373,000 (+11%)
Total partners: 117
Apply to:Fiona Medlock, graduate recruitment manager.
What's involved: Online application form, online critical thinking test, assessment centre involving a group exercise and interview.
When to Apply:
Training Contract beginning in 2020: By 31 July 2018.
Summer Vacation Scheme: By 31 January 2018.