The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Established around 1930, London-based Payne Hicks Beach is renowned for its expertise in family and private client law. This is complemented by the firm's strong commercial, privacy and media law capabilities. Payne Hicks Beach has 30 partners and the firm's clients include individuals and families, as well as businesses.
The star performers
Agriculture and estates; Art and cultural property; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Construction; Contentious trusts and probate; Employment: senior executives; Family; M&A: smaller deals, up to £50m Partnership; Reputation management; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Property litigation; Residential property; Sport.
Payne Hicks Beach advises on a vast array of matters spanning private client, property, corporate and commercial, and tax. The firm is recognised as a leader in private client and family work and in recent times firm has complemented this capability with a focus on selected areas of commercial law and privacy and media law. In an ongoing matter, the firm is acting for the Swiss trustees in a substantial breach of trust claim in respect of alleged excessive distributions by the former trustees,
Payne Hicks Beach advises a wide range of clients, including private individuals, trustees, art dealers, charities, landed estates and businesses.
From its 'beautiful setting in Lincoln's Inn', Payne Hicks Beach handles 'genuinely interesting work' on behalf of its 'prestigious client base'. One respondent writes of the 'good impression' they had of the firm when they were interviewed, and trainees at this 'small and friendly firm' are 'surrounded by supportive and down-to-earth colleagues'. As there is 'only one trainee in a department at any time' you are 'very integrated into the team'. The 'partners and solicitors put a lot of trust in you', and one respondent writes: 'I run my own files, I have met clients on my own and spoken to them on the telephone'. Favourite moments have included 'assisting at a completion meeting for an M&A deal that had taken over a year and a half to agree', 'going to court' and 'being credited with an idea that progressed the client's case by the supervising partner in front of the client'. The work/life balance is said to be healthy, which has no doubt helped the firm in being named a Lex 100 Winner in the low stress levels category. There can be a 'slightly excessive level of formality' at Payne Hicks Beach which is not to everyone's taste, though the 'summer party is excellent'. The qualification process could be improved as the firm 'lets trainees know whether they have permanent position way too late in the day'. It is just as well that there is a 'huge amount of client contact' as throughout the feedback trainees reiterate the 'incredibly diverse and interesting clients' on the firm's books. To train under the supervision of 'outstanding lawyers' at a small firm with a 'strong reputation', apply to Payne Hicks Beach.
A day in the life of...
Emily Bueno trainee, Payne Hicks Beach
Departments to date: Dispute resolution and private client
Degree:BA (Hons) in English Literature, 1st
9.00am: I arrive at the office, make myself a cup of tea and scan the headlines. I often see cases we are working on in the news, as well as clients. I then check my emails and review my to-do list for the day, prioritising more urgent tasks.
9.30am: Last night, the associate who was supervising me gave me some feedback on my draft deed of appointment and trustees' resolution for an offshore client of ours. I incorporate her amendments and proofread the documents before sending them to the partner in charge. I have drafted a number of documents in private client, including wills, letters of wishes, a deed of appointment of additional trustee, deeds of exclusion and trustees' resolutions. Being the only trainee in the department means that you are given lots of substantive work like this.
10.30am: I continue with a task I was set yesterday. A client wants to set up a charity, so I am researching what the law requires for an organisation to be recognised as charitable. I collate this research into a memo, and I start to draft an objective for our client's proposed charity, so that it will be registered by the Charity Commission. I have been given a number of really interesting research tasks like this in private client; I particularly enjoy being asked to research tricky tax points.
12.30pm: I head out to Fleet Street to buy lunch and get some fresh air. There are lots of places to eat nearby, and when the weather is good Lincoln's Inn Fields is a great place to go for a stroll and enjoy an al fresco lunch. The firm often has lunchtime seminars on topics related to its practice areas, which I always like to attend. Once a week we have 'Staff Lunch' when our brilliant catering team puts on a delicious spread, which is also a nice opportunity to meet fee-earners from other departments.
1.30pm: I return to the memo, giving it a proofread and then sending it off to the solicitor in charge of running this matter.
2.30pm: I share a room with a partner, which means that he involves me in a lot of his work. A client of his wants to move all her family trusts to our firm, so I set these up as clients on our system and draft an engagement letter for him to approve.
4.00pm: Time for a cup of tea and a slice of cake, which someone has kindly brought in. PHB is a really friendly firm and people are always very generous with bringing in baked goodies.
4.15pm: A potential client has emailed my supervisor explaining her confusion about the statutory residence test. I review the legislation and draft a response to her. The rules are quite complex and the potential client's personal situation is not entirely clear, so this is tricky to draft.
5.30pm: I email an associate about my progress on another matter. This is one of the key things I have learned. I am often juggling a number of tasks, so it is important to prioritise these and keep people updated as to your progress.
6.00pm: I write my to-do list for tomorrow and check with my supervisor if there is anything I can help with before I head home. I typically leave between 6-7pm, but will of course stay later if I am busy or need to get something urgent done. He tells me to go home, so I head off to a yoga class in nearby Covent Garden.
About the firm
Address:10 New Square, Lincoln's Inn, London, WC2A 3QG
Telephone: 020 7465 4300
Fax:020 7465 4400
Senior partner : Alastair Murdie
Who we are: Payne Hicks Beach is a Lincoln's Inn firm established in 1730 providing a full range of legal services to domestic and international private and commercial clients.
What we do: The firm's reputation has been built on family and private client work as one of the small number of firms in the UK who provide these services at the highest level. Its commanding position in these areas is complemented by an excellent reputation for contentious trusts and dispute resolution, privacy and media law, company and commercial law, employment, residential and commercial property, and citizenship and immigration work. Despite their position in the market, Payne Hicks Beach's lawyers pride themselves on the confidentiality and discretion with which they conduct their work, not least because the firm's clients include many household names, as a result of which the firm is one of London's best kept secrets.
What we are looking for: Applicants should have an excellent academic record (a 2(1) degree is a minimum), a high degree of drive and determination, and will need to demonstrate an ability to analyse problems accurately, to be creative in finding practical commercial solutions, and communicating these clearly, as well as a flair for building relationships.
What you'll do:Trainees spend time in each of four departments, with their preferences being taken into account in this rotation so far as possible. With only one trainee per department, they play an important role, with a high level of responsibility, real work and supervised client contact from the outset. Trainees are subject to regular assessment, and engage in the required professional skills courses, as well as in-house training. However, with the firm's team outlook and open-door policy they also have access to help and support from colleagues who are acknowledged experts in their fields.
Perks: Private medical insurance; permanent health insurance; employee assistance programme; life assurance scheme; health screening; contributory pension scheme; cycle to work scheme; season ticket loan; childcare vouchers; staff introduction bonus.
Sponsorship:Full GDL and LPC funding, and a maintenance grant each year of study. BPP Law School is the firm's preferred provider.
Facts and figures
Training contracts available for 2020: 2
Applications received pa: 350
Percentage interviewed: 3%
First year: £35,500
Second year: £37,500
Newly qualified: £58,800
Turnover in 2016: £21m Profits per equity partner: £485,000 (+8%)
Total partners: 27
Apply to:Janice Okuns, HR manager
When to Apply:By 31 July 2018.
What's involved:Assessment day and interview.