The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
With 270 staff and 50 partners across its three offices in Exeter, Truro and St Austell, Stephens Scown is a well-regarded South West firm. Its range of practice areas includes commercial litigation, intellectual property and social housing.
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; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Planning; Professional negligence; Property litigation; Social housing; TMT: IT and telecoms.
Advised Hastoe Housing Association on a number of site acquisitions, as well as right to acquire and enfranchisement issues; advised Wolf Minerals on a number of high-value transactions; acting for the liquidators in a claim under section 214 of the Insolvency Act 1986 against the former directors of a company; works on disputes arising from mis-sold interest rate swaps; acts on the sale and purchase of caravan parks for clients in the holiday and residential parks sector.
Arden International Motor Sport; Green Nation; Mongoose Energy; Orchard Pig; Vogt Solar.
Stephens Scown is commended for its ‘exceptional reputation in the South West and unashamed regional focus’. Respondents appreciate that the firm ‘demonstrates authenticity and a clear vision’ as it ‘has its focus on the South West and on winning key clients based in the South West, unlike its competitors’. ‘People are incredibly friendly’ at Stephens Scown and ‘you feel really valued’ as a trainee. This is partly attributed to the size of the firm, as it is ‘large enough to attract big cases and interesting work, but small enough for teams to be close and for trainees to play an important role’. Examples of the ‘very high quality of work’ include ‘my first time completing advocacy at court on my own’ and ‘going to San Diego for an international event’. The training contract’s structure of three eight-month seats splits opinion, as it ‘provides ample time to really get to grips with the area of law, but then equally you do not get as much diversity’. There is also ‘limited seat choice for trainees’, as one respondent says ‘I would find it beneficial to undertake a seat in an area of law that is not one of the traditional core areas’. Feedback does praise the quality of training at Stephens Scown, described as ‘very structured with regular reviews to help me make and achieve targets’, while also being ‘intensive and detailed’, which enables ‘trainees to carry out real responsibilities’. While there can be some ‘very tight client deadlines’ and ‘long days’, it is not stressful as there is ‘plenty of support for those who need it’, leading to a Lex 100 Winner medal in this category. To train at a ‘forward-thinking firm’ that delivers ‘outstanding client service’, apply to Stephens Scown.
A day in the life of...
Dan Partridge first-year trainee, Stephens Scown LLP
Departments to date: Family and commercial property
University:University of Exeter
8.45am: After a short walk I arrive in the office and say hello to my colleagues. I’ve just moved to the commercial property department and I’m enjoying getting to know the team. Various emails have come in overnight and I start putting together my to-do list for the day.
9.00am: Andrew Knox, a partner in our insolvency team, has just obtained a final charging order from the High Court of Justice. He asks me to update the relevant paperwork and register the charge with the Land Registry. This is a straightforward task (!) but it’s the first time I’ve registered a charge and it takes some time to work through the file and draft the relevant documents.
10.00am: Having recently moved seats I have assumed responsibility for various smaller matters that my predecessor, Jamie Bartlett, had been running. I draft various emails throughout the day and leave these with my supervisor, Nigel Coveney, for him to authorise. One of my favourite things about being a trainee is that we’re given significant levels of responsibility very early on but we’re also supervised very closely which helps keep stress to a minimum. I draft responses to the requisitions and file these on the Land Registry portal.
11.15am: One of the partners in the team asks me to do some research into the SRA accounts rules. I draft a quick email to him confirming the position.
12.00pm: The team heads up to the boardroom for our monthly team meeting. This month we’re joined by Jim Gorrod, a member of the construction team, who gives us a brief legal update and explains typical scenarios in which we could use his experience to improve the service that we’re offering to clients.
1.00pm: Lunchtime. There’s a street food market on the green outside our office and I head out with another trainee to grab a burrito.
2.00pm: Back in the office, we’ve received various requisitions from the Land Registry in relation to the registration of a group of deeds of covenant for a developer client. While most of the registrations have gone through without any problems, inevitably some require further investigation. As a trainee you have more time than other fee-earners and so a common task is being asked to review a file and work out what’s going on.
3.00pm: Toby Poole, a partner in our commercial property team, has asked me to assist him on the sale of a group of six flats. I’ve drafted completion statements and various emails which I work through with Toby and send off to the client for authorisation.
4.00pm: Trainees at Stephens Scown are strongly encouraged to get involved with as many networking and marketing opportunities as possible. I’m heading up a team which has entered a ‘£50 Challenge’ to try and raise funds for a local children’s hospice so I crack on with some administration. The trainees in our Cornish offices have recently raised the bar by persuading the partners in their offices to perform ‘YMCA’ by the Village People so we’re trying to up our game in response.
4.30pm: At the end of the working day I scan my task list again, making sure that I have completed everything that requires action. I will then file away emails and other paperwork that I have generated during the day.
5.30pm: Tonight we’re taking part in the final round of the Exeter business games, which involves racing bell boats down the Exe. I’m looking forward to a great evening in the sun with friends and colleagues.
About the firm
Address:Curzon House, http://www.stephens-scown.co.uk, Exeter, EX1 1RS
Telephone: 01392 210700
Managing partner : Robert Camp
Other offices: Truro, St Austell
Who we are: We are proud to be the highest ranked law firm in The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For. 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 – 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. As a firm we worked on over 100 deals last year and have band 1 Chambers rankings across four practice areas. We take great pride in our corporate responsibility and our commitment to the local communities in which we work guides our approach to business. Our people worked with around 60 different fantastic local charities and causes last year.
What we are looking for: We look for individuals who 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. High-profile and challenging work, extensive client exposure and important responsibilities will all come your way. You will be part of our young marketing group where you will share ideas, learn new skills and be a part of the firm’s marketing and business development plan.
Perks: PMI, group life assurance, pension scheme, employee assistance programme, 25 days holiday, day off for your birthday, unique shared ownership & bonus scheme, performance related bonus scheme, flexible working and family friendly policies, childcare vouchers, cycle to work scheme, enhanced maternity pay.
Sponsorship:Full funding provided where the LPC has not already been undertaken.
Facts and figures
Trainee places available for 2019: 10+
Applications received pa: 350
Percentage interviewed: 20%
First year: Regionally competitive
Second year: Regionally competitive
Newly qualified: Regionally competitive
Total partners: 50+
How: Online application.
When to Apply:Ongoing – check website for details
Vacation scheme available over the summer and early autumn; applicants are encouraged to apply by April of the year they wish to participate.