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 highly-regarded South West law firm. The firm prides itself on specialising in industries which are 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; Health; Insolvency and corporate recovery; Intellectual property; It and telecoms; Mining and minerals; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Planning; Professional negligence; Property litigation; Social housing
Assisted Hydro Mills Group with the due diligence and development of 20 hydro sites in Devon; advised Hair Rehab London on brand protection in the UK and EU and managing their trade mark portfolio; assisted Wookey Hole with the £2m acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Bucklegrove Camping and Caravans; worked for Swanky Apply in relation to a software enhancement agreement for its online shopping platform; assisted Strongbow Exploration with the property due diligence for the acquisition of the South Crofty Tin Mine project
Cornish Farm Dairy; Cornwall College Group; Devon and Cornwall Housing Association; Ethical Power; Exeter City Football Club; Goodridge; Hastoe Housing Association; Phoenix Learning and Care Holdings; Seadog TV and Film Production; Webformed
‘South West powerhouse’ Stephens Scown is revered by trainees for its ‘unapologetic commitment’ to its local areas in Exeter, Truro and St Austell. Boasting ‘exceptional clients’, recruits don’t ‘just get given menial tasks, we get stuck right in from the word go’. Little wonder that the firm is a Lex 100 Winner for client contact. Eight-month seats make trainees ‘feel like we get a more in-depth understanding of practice areas’ and ‘attending a five-day hearing at the High Court with counsel and clients’ and ‘completing my first file alone from start to finish’ were earmarked as best moments. Conversely, ‘missing documents in a bundle sent to a QC’, was a worst moment. An ‘innovative and creatively-thinking’ firm, Stephens Scown has devised ‘Scownership’, an employee ownership trust which means that all members of staff share in the firm’s profits. This enhances the collaborative nature of the firm because it ‘allows us all to work towards a common purpose’. Respondents spoke of a ‘friendly and approachable feel’ which ‘opens up conversations with people you may not talk with otherwise’ and where they ‘feel fully supported in everything we do’. The firm is also a Lex 100 Winner in the work/life balance category. Some recruits grumbled about the ‘different working styles across each office’ and ‘IT issues’ which are ‘a constant battle’. But the firm’s size is commended because it is ‘not so small that you are not able to progress but not so large that you don’t get noticed’. If you see yourself working for a ‘high-calibre firm which genuinely cares for its employees’ and has ‘unique links to the local community’, research Stephens Scown.
A day in the life of...
Jack Saunders trainee solicitor
Departments to date: Civil litigation
University:University of Reading
8.40am: I arrive at the office after a 15-minute cycle along the canal path. I am in the final month of my first seat in civil litigation and have a brief catch up with my colleagues who I have got to know really well. I check my calendar for the day and look through unread emails, making a note of those which require action.
9.00am: I am working in the property litigation sub-team and we gather in one of the ‘break-out’ rooms to discuss our capacity and current workload. This morning I am attending a possession hearing at Exeter County Court with a client and I chat through any queries I have with the rest of the team.
9.30am: I am preparing my submissions for this morning’s hearing. I am attending court with the client, a landlord who is seeking an order requiring possession of their property which is currently occupied by a tenant in arrears of rent.
10.15am: I meet with the client at our office and we make the brief journey across the road to Exeter County Court. I explain the process to the client and alleviate any concerns they have. We go before the judge and I make my submissions. An order is made that the defendant give my client possession of the property and judgment for payment of the rent arrears and my client’s costs is awarded. I head back to the office and type up my note of this morning’s outcome, ensuring that the file is up to date.
11.30am: My supervisor asks me to assist in drafting and serving a notice under s146 of the Law of Property Act 1925, requiring a client’s tenant to remedy a breach of covenant of their lease. Having had a telephone conference with the client last week I am already familiar with their objectives so I begin drafting the notice and cross-referencing the terms of the lease.
12.30pm: We work closely with our real estate department and I am meeting a partner and fellow trainee in the team to discuss registration of a boundary agreement, following settlement of a boundary dispute we have been working on for some time. The Land Registry has made several requisitions and we collaboratively agree a response.
1.00pm: Lunchtime. I head over to the gym which is a stone’s throw from the office to enjoy a break from my desk! I make my way back to the office and eat before beginning the afternoon’s work.
2.00pm: Back upstairs to my desk. This afternoon, I am preparing for mediation and collating the bundle ahead of an exchange of position statements with the opponent’s solicitor. I receive a call from counsel who has drafted the client’s position statement and who wishes to clarify a couple of points. I email the client to confirm the final draft.
3.45pm: With confirmation from the client I ensure that statements are exchanged with the other side, by email, in accordance with prior agreement. My supervisor and I examine the opponent’s position statement for surprises and I see that the document is forwarded to counsel and the client for their perusal.
4.15pm: Having reviewed my to-do list I check that I have actioned my top priorities and ensure there is nothing urgent requiring my attention.
4.30pm: My department is hosting last Friday drinks this month and it is my inaugural opportunity to ‘do the honours’. Each department is assigned a country as a theme and, by unanimous decision, my department is tasked with a Welsh themed drinks. I and two other colleagues prepare the drinks trolley, Welsh cakes and make sure that our Tom Jones playlist is up to date.
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 tend to smile a lot at Stephens Scown. Our values (commercial, dynamic, friendly, integrity, reliable, and supportive) are at the core of everything we do. We are proud to be ranked for the fourth year running in the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For. Passionate about the South West, we specialise in industries common throughout the region – green energy, food and drink, tourism, mining and more. 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. We have band 1 Chambers rankings across four practice areas. We take great pride in our corporate responsibility and our commitment to the local communities guides our approach.
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. There’s huge potential for the right people!
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. High-profile and challenging work, extensive client exposure and important responsibilities will all come your way. 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 and learn new skills!
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, performance related bonus scheme, flexible working and family friendly policies, childcare vouchers, cycle to work scheme, opportunity to join a number of social clubs, enhanced maternity and paternity pay
Sponsorship:Full funding provided where the LPC has not already been undertaken.
Facts and figures
Total partners: 55+
Other fee-earners: 100+
Total trainees: 18+
Trainee places available for 2021: 8+
Applications received pa: 350
Percentage interviewed: 20%
First year: £25,500
Second year: £27,000
Newly qualified: Regionally competitive
How: Online application.
When to apply:Ongoing – check website for details
What's involved:Panel interview and assessment day.
Work experience scheme available over the summer and early autumn. Applications are open from 7 January - 29 March.