The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
Russell-Cooke offers the full range of legal services from its network of offices across London. The firm has a breadth of expertise, with particular specialisms in areas as diverse as commercial property, professional regulation, crime and children law. Russell-Cooke employs approximately 200 lawyers and advises a mix of commercial, private and public sector clients.
The star performers
Charities and not-for-profit; Clinical negligence: claimant; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Contentious trusts and probate; Court of Protection; Crime: general; Education: individuals; Fraud: white-collar crime; Employment: senior executives; Family; Family: mediation; Immigration; M&A: smaller deals, up to £50m; Personal injury: claimant; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Planning; Professional discipline; Property litigation; Social housing: tenant; Sport.
Advised G Adventures (UK) on its purchase of Travelsphere and Just You from All Leisure Group; acted against Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust on a delay in diagnosis and negligent discharge from hospital case, ultimately reaching a settlement of £250,000; acted for a joint venture of RoundHill Capital and Starwood Capital Group on the £73m acquisition of student accommodation properties in England and Scotland; advised Anthony Nolan (the UK's blood cancer charity) and Leuka (the leading leukaemia research charity) on their innovative collaboration with NHS Blood & Transplant; acting for an equity partner at a Magic Circle law firm on a potential sex and age discrimination claim arising from a reduction in her lockstep.
4Children; Grainger; Matalan Retail; Newable Property Developments; Norfolk Square; Pret A Manger; Spitalfields Small Business Association; Sports Direct Group; Tideway Restaurants; The University of Birmingham.
The 'breadth of areas of work' undertaken by Russell-Cooke is complemented by the 'wide variety of seat choices' available to trainees, and one recruit was particularly eager to work alongside the 'highly-rated lawyers in the family and children's law department'. There is 'lots of client contact and responsibility', and stand-out moments include 'helping with a comprehensive title review on a potential sale', 'being able to deal with a difficult client well and earn their trust' and 'attending an appeal at the Court of Appeal and sitting behind counsel'. This year, Russell-Cooke is named a Lex 100 Winner owing to its impressive client contact score. The main criticism in the feedback centres on the 'lack of availability of seats in niche practice areas', and there is also a sense that 'each department is very separate from others'. We hear that 'the firm is very friendly and unstuffy', and the 'very sociable trainees' thrive in this environment by making the most of the 'yoga classes twice a week' and the 'departmental karaoke night'. Sometimes there are 'long hours and late finishes' but overall a 'good work/life balance' is reported. Owing to the 'non-hierarchical structure' there are 'many opportunities to work closely with partners and senior associates', and 'everyone from NQs to heads of department are approachable'. 'Trainees are really able to contribute to cases' and always 'feel very much like a member of the team'. To tackle 'high-quality work' at a firm which 'maintains a strong reputation', add Russell-Cooke to your shortlist.
A day in the life of...
Mark Child first-year trainee, Russell-Cooke LLP
Departments to date: Matrimonial, real estate
University:University College London
9.00am: I tend to arrive at the office between 8.45am and 9.15am, depending on the punctuality of the trains. I review any emails that have arrived overnight.
9.30am: I still use a writing pad to keep a running schedule of my tasks to be completed and their priority, and so after dealing with any urgent emails, I start working my way through my listed matters.
10.00am: A reversionary lease and deed of variation that I have been working on is received early morning, so I consider the amendments made by the other side and what they have conceded from my previous draft. As our client is a strong covenant in the landlord's shopping centre, my supervisor agrees that I can push the other side hard; to keep the pressure on the other side I provide comments to my supervisor quickly and discuss my proposed response. With the documents reviewed and amended, I return them to the other side with a cover email explaining our changes.
11.00pm: A partner comes over to my desk and asks whether I have capacity to meet a new client this afternoon. After rearranging my diary, I confirm my availability and prepare. This involves carrying out client due diligence to ensure we have no client conflicts and to ask the new client to bring in appropriate identity documents.
11.15am: I am asked to lead on a planning objection on behalf of a client who lives adjacent to a proposed site, with the supervision of the instructing partner. I review the plans, elevations and design and access statement. I start the intensive task of identifying the relevant local plan policies and helpful paragraphs from the national planning policy framework.
12.30pm: I always try to take a proper lunch break as I find otherwise my levels of concentration can decline. It is a pleasant walk down to Putney Bridge where I catch up with a fellow trainee. It's always useful to make time to see your trainee colleagues, to compare workloads, matter types and any challenges you may be facing; it also helps inform those subsequent seat decisions.
1.30pm: I review emails that have come in over lunch and deal with those requiring immediate action. It's then back to drafting the skeleton of my planning objection letter before heading off to meet my new client.
2.15pm: The new client is having problems with her co-freeholder in a building that comprises their two leasehold apartments. He has made a planning application to convert the building's flat roof into a roof terrace, despite it being outside his demise. I review the documentation and ask her what her objectives are. After agreeing our strategy, I confirm that I will provide her with an engagement letter, which will set out our cost estimate and what we have agreed to do. She is happy that we have been able to meet her at such short notice and before her holiday.
3.30pm: I de-brief my instructing partner. I then begin to analyse property leases and freehold titles once the engagement letter is drafted and sent out.
5.00pm: I return to my emails and deal with any urgent messages. I find that the other side is ready to complete on a licence to underlet the following day, so I add that to my list of tasks and re-order their priority for the next day.
5.45pm: I tend to leave at a reasonable hour unless there are pressing matters. Staying late is not something that is expected simply for its own sake, and so my departure is often orchestrated around the trains departing back to Oxford.
About the firm
Address:2 Putney Hill, London, SW15 6AB
Telephone: 020 8789 9111
Fax:020 8780 1194
Senior partner : John Gould
Managing partner : Jonathan Thornton
Other offices: London (Bedford Row) and Kingston-upon-Thames.
Who we are: A broad London-based firm with a contemporary outlook, and strength in depth.
What we do: Departments include charities and social business, clinical negligence, commercial litigation, real estate, corporate and commercial, cross-border estates and tax planning, employment, family, private client, professional regulation, and trust and estates disputes. Key clients include the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Architects Registration Board, BSkyB, Pret A Manger and Sports Direct.
What we are looking for: An intellectually rigorous, independently minded trainee with a broad range of skills, both technical and personal.
What you'll do:Trainees sit in four departments across our offices with two formal reviews during each seat.
Perks: Perks: Trainees are eligible for all standard employee benefits.
Sponsorship:We provide capped sponsorship of up to £10,000 per candidate for LPC fees. We also offer an interest-free loan of up to £5,000 repayable out of a trainee's salary over a two-year period.
Facts and figures
Trainee places available for 2020: 9
Applications received pa: Approximately 500
Percentage interviewed: 10%
First year: £35,500
Second year: £37,500
Newly qualified: Market rate for the area into which the trainee qualifies
Turnover in 2016: £32.6m Profits per equity partner: £202,000
Total partners: 61
Apply to:Tess Morley.
When to Apply:By 31 July 2018 for 2020 contracts.
Whats involved:If you are selected after applying via our online application form, we will invite you for two interviews - the first a 'getting to know you' interview with one or two senior people at the firm. For those who are shortlisted, you will be invited for a second interview involving a group session and a chance to show how you would cope with actual casework. You'll also meet our current trainees, look round our offices and have the chance to put your questions to the partner in charge of trainees.