The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Mills & Reeve is a top 50 LB100 firm, with its headquarters in London and five other office across the country giving the firm a national reach. It 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; Charities and not-for-profit; Commercial litigation; Contentious trusts and probate; Corporate and commercial; Corporate tax; Debt recovery; EU and competition; Education; Employment; Family; Health and safety; Immigration; Insolvency and corporate recovery; Licensing; Pensions; Personal injury: defendant; Professional negligence; Project finance and PFI.
Advised shareholders of Brandbank Ltd on its multi-million pound acquisition by Nielsen Holdings; advised Coventry University on a £73m project to replace a former Royal Mail building with five 18-storey towers and a shopping centre; advised The British Library on EU procurement compliance for a multi-million pound development; advised Kingston Higher Education Corporation on a £77.7m term loan; advised the British Medical Association on the launch of its own ABS, named BMA Law Ltd.
Barclays Bank; Baxter Healthcare; Cambridge University Press; the Department of Health; Institution of Engineering Technology; LV Commercial Mortgage; Larking Gowen; PWC; QV Foods; Urban&Civic.
Mills & Reeve’s current trainees found the ‘six-seat rotation contract particularly desirable’. The ‘four-month seat system’ allows trainees to make an ‘informed decision’ about the area of law they would ‘like to qualify in’. Trainees are ‘not a tiny cog in a massive machine but a valued member of the team’ as the ‘size and structure’ of the firm allows trainees to take on ‘proper work and responsibility’. One trainee enjoyed taking on a pro-active role rather than being ‘just the note-taker’; instead they were ‘trusted to attend meetings with clients unsupervised’. This has helped propel the firm to a Lex 100 Winner gong for client contact. Partners dedicate a ‘lot of time’ to supervising trainees carefully and giving them ‘one-to-one training’. There isn’t a ‘hierarchal feel to the firm’ and trainees are ‘encouraged to engage with staff at all levels’. Moreover, the firm is ‘attentive to the development’ of trainees as they are given ‘the best chance to learn’. The firm encourages a ‘non-stressful and healthy approach to work/life balance’ and several trainees report ‘zero weekend office hours’. But there are still some ‘long late nights’ in store for trainees and at times there is ‘inconsistency in the trainee workload’; some days they are ‘very busy or have nothing to do’. Top trainee moments include ‘running a £30m real estate finance matter with the necessary supervision of a partner’, ‘attending a three-day employment tribunal away from the office as the sole representative of the firm’ and ‘completing a deal late at night’. Grumbles centre on the salary and the fact that trainees ‘are unable to specify a preference for their first seat’. But if you’re looking to be ‘intellectually challenged’ with plenty of responsibility, Mills & Reeve could be the firm for you.
A day in the life of...
Sam Goldsmith first-year trainee, Mills & Reeve (Norwich)
Departments to date: Real estate disputes, family and corporate
University:University of East Anglia
8.30am: Like most people who work in the Norwich office, I live only a short walk away and can therefore leave home slightly later.
8.45am: I always start the day by checking my emails. This allows me to note any new tasks which have arrived in my inbox and plan my day.
9.30am: The work we complete as trainees varies depending on the seat; in corporate I would use the morning to ensure the data rooms and due diligence processes I was managing were ticking over smoothly, whereas in family I would usually attend a client meeting with my supervisor. In real estate disputes I use the morning to complete research. The team partially works as an in-house team as we receive various queries from property lawyers across the firm. These queries tend to relate to specific or technical questions of law, therefore I will often need to use a mix of offline and online resources to complete the research. I always produce an ‘outcome of research’ memo giving a short response to the question asked and a longer explanation.
11.00am: It is around this time I receive the majority of my work as the other fee-earners will have considered their own to-do lists and addressed any urgent tasks. I have always received work from across the teams I have sat with rather than working solely under my supervisor. There is no hierarchy within Mills & Reeve; I am currently sitting next to a partner and am just as likely to receive work from him as I am from any associates within the team.
11.30am: Having received the additional work I will make a decision based upon urgency as to what task to do next. On this occasion I have been asked to draft possession proceedings on behalf of one of the firm’s main clients but I have also drafted claims for relief from forfeiture, injunction applications and created trial bundles. In family I drafted cohabitation agreements, undertook financial disclosure for divorce proceedings and drafted court applications regarding child custody.
1.00pm: Mills & Reeve subsidises its canteen so, depending on the weather, I will often eat downstairs with the other trainees, NQs and paralegals. If the weather is nicer some of us will eat lunch in the grounds of the cathedral or take a walk along the river to a coffee shop to get our fix before the afternoon.
2.00pm: I attend many meetings in the afternoon; on this occasion it is to discuss recovering costs from the other side with a client who we successfully represented in the High Court. In corporate I was allowed to take the lead in eight of nineteen meetings we held when completing a subdivision.
3.30pm: As trainees we are encouraged to get involved in the firm as a whole. Some trainees plan social events for the office while others contribute to the firm’s newspaper, Signpost . I, along with three other trainees, put myself forward to organise the firm’s annual charity challenge. I would use the afternoons to organise the logistics for the event by speaking to participants or challenge and accommodation providers.
5.30pm: My supervisor tends to leave around this time and will always tell me to go home too. At Mills & Reeve we are not expected to stay late simply for the sake of staying late – the work-life balance is another positive.
6.00pm: I usually leave around this time having given my to-do list one final glance to ensure I have finalised any tasks which need completing. There is a really good social scene in Norwich so usually at least twice a week I will either be playing football, going for a run with colleagues or attending a local young professional event.
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
Trainee places available for 2019: 21
Applications received pa: 1,100
Percentage interviewed: 7%
First year: £25,000
Second year: £26,500
Newly qualified: £40,000
Total partners: 110
Apply to:Fiona Medlock, graduate recruitment manager.
When to Apply:By 31 July 2017 for September 2019 training contracts.
Application deadline = 31 January 2017, Cambridge 19 June to 30 June 2017, Birmingham 3 July to 14 July 2017, Manchester 10 July to 21 July 2017, Norwich 17 July to 28 July 2017.