Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP

Address: Botanic House, 100 Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 1PH




Survey results


The lowdown (in their own words...)

Why did you choose this firm over any others? 
 ''Client base' 'I was keen to stay in the Norfolk area' 'work/life balance' 'small trainee intake' 'partners are generally inclusive and willing to train and develop juniors' 'variety of sectors' 'the vacation scheme was exceptional' 'the office locations' 'the great reputation' 'I was very interested in family law'
Best thing about the firm? 
 ''City-level work' 'the people' 'a really enjoyable and fantastic place to work' 'lack of hierarchy' 'to work alongside partners and others who are very experienced in their fields' 'very supportive' 'colleagues and supervisors' 'there is no expectation to stay late for the sake of showing face'
Worst thing about the firm? 
 ''Trainee salary is low for Cambridge' 'the IT infrastructure could be better' 'different levels of supervision and development between teams' 'varying workloads'
Best moment? 
 ''Getting great feedback from clients and counsel' 'drafting advice notes on novel points of law and having few amendments come back from the supervising partner' 'working on a £70m deal as a team of 15 to complete within a week of instruction' 'being the sole solicitor at an urgent application hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice'
Worst moment?
 ''Losing a long research note on the day of the deadline' 'spending two days photocopying bundles for a trial, which was necessary but dull' 'stress about whether I am being retained' 'not always receiving adequate feedback''

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

Diane Lockhart (The Good Wife) - pragmatic, working on high-end deals, leading from the front and investing the time to nurture from the bottom up

The Verdict

The firm

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.

The deals

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.

The clients

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.

The Verdict

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.

10.30am:  No two days are the same, which is something I like about this profession, but I tend to get stuck into something important for the majority of the morning. In real estate, this would usually mean reviewing documents in order to provide advice to a client, drafting a lease or a licence, attending a client meeting, or doing some research. In commercial, IP and IT it would likely be drafting a software agreement, privacy policy or non-disclosure agreement, for example, or drafting a letter of claim in relation to IP infringement.

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

Fax:01223 355848


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

Other fee-earners:440

Total trainees:35

 Application process

Apply to:Fiona Medlock, graduate recruitment manager.

How: Online.

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.