The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
With three offices spread across Exeter, Truro and St Austell, Stephens Scown is a well-regarded South West firm. The firm prides itself on specialising in industries common throughout the region, such as tourism and green energy. Stephens Scown also advises businesses on corporate and commercial affairs.
The star performers
Agriculture and estates; Charities and not-for-profit; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Contentious trusts and probate; Corporate and commercial; Employment; Energy; Environment; Family; Insolvency and corporate recovery; Intellectual property; IT and telecoms; Personal, tax, trusts and probate; Planning; Property litigation; Social housing.
Secured a £16m settlement for Portland Stone Firms in connection with a compensation claim related to the restrictive effect of a planning order by Dorset County Council; acted for the liquidators of Jetstream (Europe) Limited on the sale of water jetting equipment to a Danish buyer; advised ReneSola, a Chinese solar developer, on the acquisition, planning, construction and sale of several 5MW UK solar farms; acts as sole legal adviser to English Rural Housing Association; advising software developer Unity Five on software licensing agreements with international clients.
Begbies Traynor; Bristol City Council; Charitable Giving; Hydro Mills Group; Gerald David and Family Limited; Strongbow Exploration; The Insolvency Service; Venture Property Development Company; Yarlington Housing Group.
Trainees respect the fact that Stephens Scown 'keeps its focus on the South West'. Indeed, much of the feedback refers to this single-minded approach, which has clearly been a great attraction for the trainees. The 'very high quality of the training' is praised as 'partners have a lot of time to review work with you and teach things thoroughly'. The 'standard of work is extremely high', and trainees 'get lots of responsibility from day one'. Highlights include 'completing on an asset purchase that I had been working on for a few months', 'having a very complex consent order approved on a matrimonial finances case that no one thought would settle' and 'attending the High Court in Bristol for a planning judicial review'. Stephens Scown is a four-time Lex 100 Winner this year, recognising its achievements promoting quality work, inclusiveness, work/life balance and low stress levels. That 'there has been some difficulty holding onto newly-qualified lawyers recently' is a cause for concern. But the firm 'heavily promotes a healthy work/life balance', and on top of this it 'encourages involvement in extracurricular classes and events'. One respondent criticises the 'compulsory three-month paralegalling before the training contract starts' as they ended up spending 11 consecutive months in the same department. That said, there is generally 'flexibility regarding seats'. Trainees rotate through three eight-month seats at Stephen Scown, a rarity in the market. A 'meritocratic and supportive culture' prevails, and 'there is a high level of trust between supervisors and their trainees'. The firm 'appears to be growing well' and staff are 'genuinely happy, friendly and passionate'. To train in the South West at an award-winning firm with a 'great ethos and brand', consider Stephens Scown.
A day in the life of...
Olivia Miller first-year trainee, Stephens Scown LLP
Departments to date: Real estate
University:University of Exeter
Degree:Law LLB with Maîtrise en Droit
8.40am: I arrive at the office after a short walk and grab a coffee. I've nearly completed my first seat in real estate and have got to know the team really well.
8.45am: The team gathers for a brief meeting in which we discuss our current work and capacity to take on new matters. We share recent marketing and networking events we have attended and the teams schedule for the coming week.
9.00am: I check my emails that have come in overnight and start compiling a to-do list. I briefly discuss any updates on files with my supervisor and we decide what course of action I will take.
9.30am: I am working on a complex legal charge over a portfolio of properties (both commercial and residential) with Ben Wheeler, an associate in our real estate team. I prepare a list of enquiries from the search results, title documents and tenancy agreements while also noting points we need to disclose to the bank.
11.00am: I receive a phone call from another firm requesting a simultaneous exchange and completion on a residential purchase I've been working on for several months. I check the file to confirm we hold a signed contract and transfer and call our accounts team. Everything looks ready from our end, so I call the client to confirm they are ready to exchange and complete. We arrange for the completion monies to be transferred to the other side and I call to exchange contracts.
11.45am: The other side call to confirm receipt of the completion monies and I date the transfer accordingly.
12.00pm: I deal with post-completion matters such as submitting the SDLT return and drafting an AP1 in readiness to submit to the Land Registry when we receive the documents from the seller's solicitors.
1.00pm: Lunchtime. I head downstairs to our choir rehearsal for our workplace choir The Scown Roses. I've been singing in the choir since I joined and it's a great place to meet people from other departments of all levels and a fun break away from the desk!
2.15pm: Back upstairs to my desk. I check any emails that have come in over the lunch hour and notice a requisition from Land Registry on an application I submitted for a first registration. There is a query of the discharge of an old mortgage and I make an urgent call to the bank to discuss obtaining a deed of release.
3.00pm: Keith Wright, head of our real estate team, asks me to assist on a lease of commercial premises for a housing provider. We have a meeting to discuss the heads of terms and discuss drafting tips for amending one of our precedent leases. I make a start on drafting the lease and liaise with our planning department on the use class of the property.
4.00pm: Trainees are encouraged to get involved and organise events, so myself and the other trainee are planning a badminton tournament. We have a video conference with the trainees in our St Austell office to discuss arrangements and finalise our invitation.
4.30pm: At the end of the working day I peruse my to-do list and check that I have actioned my top priorities. I then file away emails and paperwork, making sure all my matters are up to date.
5.30pm: Tonight we're taking part in a quiz organised by a local accountancy firm. We have entered two teams. I'm looking forward to catching up with fellow young professionals and relaxing with colleagues after a busy day!
About the firm
Address:Curzon House, Southernhay West, Exeter, EX1 1RS
Telephone: 01392 210700
Managing partner : Robert Camp
Other offices: Truro, St Austell
Who we are: We are UK Law Firm of the Year as recognised in the British Legal awards and proud to be the highest ranked law firm in The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For, for the second year running - it's a great environment to work in! We're a law firm with a regional focus, but all the benefits of a big city rival. Passionate about the South West, we specialise in industries common throughout the region. But we also help businesses with a whole range of corporate and commercial affairs, as well as having a major private client and family law practice.
What we are looking for: We are passionate about what we do, so we look for individuals who share that passion, and can demonstrate the drive, enthusiasm and ambition to be our future lawyers and partners. Applications are encouraged from both law and non-law graduates with a strong commercial and business awareness. You'll also need great personal and communication skills, as well as creativity and a sense of fun.
What you'll do:Your training contract with us will be fulfilling, challenging and rewarding. Undertaking three seats in a variety of contentious and non-contentious areas, you will be able to discuss your preferred choices and be actively involved in your development and progression. You will be positively encouraged to think outside the box, be creative and come up with ideas that the firm can take forward. You will also be part of our professional marketing group where you will share ideas, learn new skills and be a part of the firm's marketing and business development plan. Visit our website and have a look at some of our current trainees which will give you a great insight into what is on offer and check out our monthly blog for hints and tips as well as details of what our current and new trainees have been up to!
Perks: Private medical insurance, group life assurance scheme, auto-enrolment pension scheme, employee assistance programme, 25 days' holiday, plus bank and public holidays, day off for your birthday, unique shared ownership and bonus scheme, flexible working and family friendly policies, childcare vouchers, cycle to work scheme, opportunity to join a number of social clubs - free or minimal cost, enhanced maternity and paternity pay
Sponsorship:Full funding provided where the LPC has not already been undertaken.
Facts and figures
Trainee places available for 2020: 10+
Applications received pa: 350
Percentage interviewed: 20%
First year: Regionally competitive
Second year: Regionally competitive
Newly qualified: Regionally competitive
Total partners: 55+
How: Online application.
When to Apply:Ongoing - check website for details
Whats involved:Panel interview and assessment day.
Summer:Work experience scheme available over the summer and early autumn, applicants should apply during January-March of the year they wish to participate.