The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Established for over 150 years, Reading-headquartered Pitmans has additional offices in London and Southampton. The firm offers a wide range of commercial law services for corporates and also delivers a variety of private wealth services for private clients. Pitmans is also a founding member of Interact Law, a global network of specialist legal firms, which allows the firm to cater to clients’ international needs.
The star performers
Banking and finance; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Corporate and commercial; Construction; Debt recovery; Employment; Immigration; Insolvency and corporate recovery; IT and telecoms; Licensing; Pensions; Personal injury: defendant; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Planning; Property litigation
Advised finnCap on its role as AIM broker to Eco City Vehicles (now trading as Tax Systems) relating to the £73m reverse takeover of Tax Computer Systems and its £45m placing of shares; represented an expatriate employee before the Employment Appeal Tribunal in a case regarding unfair dismissal, whistleblowing and discrimination claims filed against the British Council; advised 360Globalnet on an investment made by Computer Sciences Corporation (now known as DXC Technology); assisted Ridgeway Garages (Newbury) with its £107m sale to Marshall Motor Group; advised Premier Marinas on its acquisition of Noss Marina.
HCR Group; HUMAX Electronics; Metropolitan Restaurants; Natural Environment Research Council; Scoozi Bar & Grill; Sky; Specialist Tours; Technology Networks; Westcoast France; Xma.
Pitmans maintains a 'strong presence in the Thames Valley' and enjoys 'a great reputation in the community'. One respondent considers the firm's market position as 'the best of both worlds' - it is based outside of London, but has a London office and produces high-quality work for high-profile clients. Indeed, the firm regularly represents 'regional, national and international clients'. First impressions were very positive; one trainee writes 'I did work experience before applying and liked what I saw', while another was impressed by their training contract interview and subsequent tour of the office. There is a 'wide variety of expertise' and a 'breadth of specialisms' at Pitmans. Work highlights have included 'attending a two-week final hearing at the employment tribunal for a case that was reported in the national press', 'working on a variety of high-profile corporate deals' and 'attending a hearing and my suggestions being included in the order drafted by counsel'. One criticism is that 'there is a bit of a disconnect between the various offices and we don't come together very often'. A 'variation in workloads between different seats' is also reported as 'at times there has not been enough work available'. There is a 'great work/life balance', an attribute which has secured the firm Lex 100 Winner status. It is appreciated that 'trainees are not expected to know everything from day one and people are happy to answer questions', and in recognition of this 'there is high-quality continued support and training provided from highly experienced partners, directors and associates'. For a 'very friendly place to work' in which every trainee is 'an integral part of the team', consider applying to Pitmans.
A day in the life of...
Millie Jackson trainee, Pitmans Law
Departments to date: Corporate pensions and matrimonial.
University: University of Sussex
Degree: Law with Business (LLB), 2(1)
The matrimonial team at Pitmans covers a wide range of matters, but predominantly focus on divorce, high net worth financial proceedings and Children Act proceedings. I chose family law as an elective on the LPC, hold a genuine interest in this area and knew from the outset that this was a seat I was keen to do during my training contract, so felt lucky when this materialized for me. One of the fantastic things about training with Pitmans is that you can really shape your training contract to fit your own preferences. We have regular meetings with the training partner, who is keen to make sure that any seat preferences trainees may have are accommodated.
It sounds clichéd, but it is true to say that no day is ever the same in matrimonial! I spent my first day in the seat in court on an urgent Children Act application for a prohibited steps and Child Arrangements Order. Our client was the father of a young boy who had been taken from the care of his father and unilaterally enrolled into a new school by his mother, without the consent (or even discussion) with our client. I shadowed a senior associate and witnessed her performing her own advocacy; as the hearing was so urgent we did not have time to instruct counsel at such late notice. In a highly sensitive area, emotions run high and it is important to remain professional and in control throughout the proceedings, particularly in front of the client. A trainee is expected to take note of everything that happens at court, as well as pre- and post-hearing meetings. Keeping an eye on the clock so as to note the timings of key events is paramount. I can safely say your hand feels crippled after a day of note taking in court!
I arrive at my desk ready to sift through any emails that may have come in overnight. When I am not required at court, I am often involved with putting together bundles for use at hearings. This involves drafting an index and getting it approved by the other side. Once approved, it is time to start compiling and copying all of the relevant documents to be included in the bundle. There is a set structure for what the court bundles should include, depending on what type of hearing you are preparing for. Other duties of mine include: drafting a briefs to counsel, drafting numerous letters to accompany the above bundles and briefs; and drafting a form E (a key form involving financial disclosure). I am also regularly contacting chambers and instructing Counsel for future hearings.
I usually make sure I take a break and get out of the office for lunch. It is also nice to regularly catch up with fellow trainees over lunch or a coffee and find out how everyone’s experiences in their current seats are going. Finding out more about their experiences of other areas and teams is also a useful way of trying to decipher whether you want to do a seat in that department.
Recently I have been regularly liaising with the charity committee regarding a charity bake-off I have been organising in aid of raising money for Daisy’s Dream (the firm’s sponsored charity). This has involved organising logistics, internally promoting the event and creating a “Bake-off” poster with marketing! Being an active member of the committee has been a great way of getting to know new faces across the firm; particularly those who I wouldn’t usually cross paths with on a daily basis. As a trainee, it is also important to get your name known around the firm, as you never know which department you may be joining in a few months time and who your new colleagues may be! It is also nice to have the occasional break from the law to think about firm events and networking. I am an active member of the social committee as well, and helped organise the summer party in August where we hired a boat and cruised up and down the Thames, with an open bar and a jazz band on board!
Whilst internal networking is important, external networking is equally so. I have recently been organising for myself and a senior associate on the team to attend a family law update event hosted by chambers we regularly instruct. Keeping abreast of changes in the area of law that you are currently working in is paramount. Plus, you never know who you may meet at a networking event and how it may be beneficial to you in the future, or result in new business being introduced to the firm. The Reading legal scene is surprisingly active, with the annual Legal Walk, to regular Junior Lawyers Division and Thames Valley Young Professionals events.
About the firm
Address: 47 Castle Street, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 7SR
Telephone: 0345 222 9222
Fax: 0118 958 5097
Managing partner : John Hutchinson
Deputy managing partner : Suzanne Brooker
Other offices: Reading (The Anchorage, 34 Bridge Street, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 2LU); London (107 Cheapside, London, EC2V 6DN); Southampton (46 The Avenue, Southampton, SO17 1AX).
Who we are: Established for over 150 years, Pitmans Law provides city quality advice at a competitive price to deliver exceptional value for corporate and private clients locally, nationally and internationally.
What do we do: Legal advice across a wide range of industry sectors and specialisms including particularly strong specialist teams in pensions advisory, real estate, dispute resolution as well as corporate and commercial law.
What we are looking for: Talented, bright and committed candidates who are confident and commercially-minded and share the firm’s culture and values.
What you'll do: Trainees generally complete four six-month seats, split between our Reading and London offices, with preferences accommodated and regular, structured reviews. Pitmans trainees are absolutely integral to the firm, and we ensure they work in an inspiring and progressive atmosphere with support to achieve their career goals.
Perks: Pension, flexible benefits package, 25 days’ holiday, health insurance, cycle to work scheme.
Sponsorship: Pitmans does not fund the GDL or LPC.
Facts and figures
Trainee places available for 2020: 8
Applications received pa: c.200
Percentage interviewed: 15%
First year: £26,500
Second year: £28,000
Newly qualified: Competitive market rate depending upon location and area of work.
Total partners: 35
Other fee-earners: 90
Total trainees: 16
Apply to: Phil Smith, partner and training principal.
When to Apply: 31 July 2018 (for training contacts commencing 2020).
Whats involved: First rounds Interview with two partners followed by a written exercise; second round interview thereafter for successful candidates.
Summer: By ad hoc arrangement.