The lowdown (in their own words...)
If the firm were a fictional character it would be...
City firm Travers Smith retained its Private Equity Team of the Year title at the Legal Business Awards 2016. It was also nominated for Law Firm of the Year, and has since published an excellent 13% rise in turnover for the latest financial year. The firm is widely respected for its finance expertise, and has a second office in Paris.
The star performers
Acquisition finance; Banking litigation: investment and retail; Commercial contracts; Competition litigation; Corporate restructuring and insolvency; Corporate tax; Data protection; Derivatives and structured products; EU and competition; Employee share schemes; Equity capital markets; Financial services (contentious); Flotations: small and mid-cap; Franchising; Fraud: civil; Investment funds: Hedge funds; M&A: upper mid-market and premium deals, £250m+; Pensions dispute resolution; Private equity: transactions: Mid-cap deal capability; Property finance.
Advised Bridgepoint Development Capital on the financing of its acquisitions of tastecard and Gourmet Society; advised Investec Bank on a £15m revolving facility to fund investments made by Downing; assisted Nikkei with the incentive aspects of its £844m acquisition of The Financial Times Group; acted for Brewin Dolphin on the employment elements of the sale of its Stockade business to Alliance Trust Savings; acted for the British Steel Pension Scheme on a package of benefit changes to manage a substantial increase in the scheme’s funding deficit.
AIG; Bank Negara Indonesia; The Carlyle Group; Deloitte; Exponent Private Equity; Monarch Alternative Capital; Pinewood Studios; RBS; Virgin Active; Western Union.
Trainees applied to ‘prestigious’ Travers Smith in large part due to the City firm’s ‘excellent reputation for training’. A key aspect of this is the ‘unique room-sharing system’, where a ‘trainee sits in a room with two to four associates and a partner’. We are told that this ‘makes a huge impact on learning through observation’, and partners ‘take a keen interest in the professional development of their trainees’ and are ‘involved in your training every step of the way’. Partners also conducted the recruitment interviews, and were labelled ‘impressive and the kind of people I want to emulate’ by one respondent. This was one stage of the ‘straightforward and personal application process’ which introduced applicants to the ‘collegiate and supportive atmosphere’ at Travers Smith. The firm is a triple Lex 100 Winner this year. The ‘quality of the work and the comparatively smaller size of the trainee intake’ means that there are ‘opportunities to take on responsibility at an early stage’. Highlight work moments to date include ‘leading a board meeting for a listed company’ and ‘signing a very large transaction after the sale process accelerated rapidly’. When it gets busy the ‘hours can be brutal’, and this has resulted in ‘working on a deal until 7am’ and ‘working overnight to complete a piece of research’. Trainees also criticise the ‘lack of transparency regarding seat choices and qualification’, though the ‘retention rates are impressive’. Secondments are available in the Paris office, and for one recruit this was an ‘excellent opportunity to challenge myself and improve my language skills’. To represent ‘blue-chip clients’ while working with ‘extremely talented lawyers’ in a ‘team-oriented’ environment, take a closer look at Travers Smith.
A day in the life of...
Tom Lloyd trainee solicitor, Travers Smith LLP
Departments to date: Employment, finance, corporate (private equity group) and commercial, IP and technology
University:St Peter’s College, Oxford University
7.30am: I get up early and make my way to the gym (taking advantage of the subsidised membership provided by the firm!) before grabbing a coffee and some breakfast as I head into the office. The firm’s canteen is typically the go-to place for breakfast, providing a social hub where people congregate for a morning catch up.
9.15am: When I arrive at my desk I catch up with my supervising partner and associates. The graduate recruitment partners hosted a dinner for the trainees last night, so my room is inevitably keen to hear how this went. I then read through my emails, replying to any that can be dealt with quickly, before prioritising my tasks for the day.
9.30am: We have been carrying out a vendor due diligence exercise for the share sale of a company owned by one of our private equity clients. We are working towards a tight deadline as our private equity team is looking to send out a revised draft of the report by the end of today. The lead associate and I divide up the tasks: I am responsible for processing (where possible) the client’s comments into the report and, where further information is required, preparing questions in advance of a call with the client this afternoon.
11.30am: I take a break from my due diligence work. A well-known high-street client is looking to enter into an arrangement with a counter-party for the delivery of its sandwiches around London, and has sent us a draft agreement to be reviewed. While I am supported by my supervising partner, I am encouraged to lead on drafting an email of advice to the client. Having scoured through the document, centring my review on the specific business needs of the client, I discuss my comments with the partner and send my email of advice to the client.
1.00pm: Lunchtime provides a good opportunity to get some fresh air. Being located no more than a five-minute walk from Farringdon, St Paul’s or Chancery Lane, there is never a shortage of lunch options. Today I, and a few other trainees, choose to wander through Leather Lane Market, before settling in Smithfield Garden to eat our lunch in the sun.
1.50pm: When I get back to my desk, I respond to any emails that have come in while I was at lunch. Just before the due diligence call, the two associates and I sit down to decide who will be discussing each item on the agenda and the order in which this will occur.
2.30pm: We dial into the call with the client. I take notes and answer any questions on the sections of the report which I have been looking after. The call goes well and we now have enough information to finalise our section of the report. Following the call, I incorporate my notes into the report, before sending it to the associate for review. Having processed their comments, I liaise with the private equity team in relation to any outstanding points, before sending over our revised draft before the deadline.
4.30pm: I receive some follow-up questions from the client on the email of advice I sent out earlier. I delve back into the agreement and discuss my proposed responses with the partner, before replying to the client.
6.30pm: The 5-a-side football legal league is in the final stages of the season and the Travers Smith team has a title-deciding match tonight. I look through my to-do list, checking I have finished everything that I had planned to do today. Having closed down my timers for the day and changed into Travers Smith football colours, I head off to the game (and the beers that often follow) with my teammates.
About the firm
Address:10 Snow Hill, London, EC1A 2AL
Telephone: 020 7295 3000
Fax:020 7295 3500
Senior partner : Chris Hale
Managing partner : David Patient
Other offices: Paris. Our strategy of establishing close ties with international law firms means we work with over 100 firms worldwide.
Who we are: Travers Smith is an award-winning City law firm with a reputation for enterprising thinking and uncompromising quality. Competing directly with the largest City firms, we attract top-quality work and provide a professional yet relaxed working environment. It is this that has led to one of the highest staff retention rates in the City.
What we do: The main areas of our practice are commercial (including IP and IT), corporate, employment, employee incentives, environment and operational regulatory, competition, dispute resolution, finance, financial services and markets, pensions, real estate, restructuring and insolvency, and tax.
What we are looking for: We’ll give you responsibility from day one – you will quickly find yourself on the phone to clients, in meetings and handling your own work (with guidance where needed). As such the firm looks for people who can combine academic excellence with common sense; who are determined, articulate and able to think on their feet; and who take their work but not themselves seriously.
What you'll do:The firm’s comprehensive training programme ensures that trainees experience a broad range of work. All trainee solicitors sit with partners and associates, which ensures a refreshing lack of hierarchy. Trainees spend six months in our corporate department and another six months in a contentious seat. The firm offers you a choice for your other two seats in two of our other departments. Trainees may also have the opportunity to spend six months in the firm’s Paris office.
Perks: Private health and permanent health insurance, life assurance, health screening programme, GP service, pension scheme, 25 days’ holiday, cycle to work scheme, subsidised bistro, childcare vouchers, season ticket and corporate health club membership loans.
Sponsorship:Payment of GDL and LPC fees, plus maintenance grant.
Facts and figures
Trainee places available for 2019: 25
Applications received pa: 1,000
First year: £42,500
Second year: £47,500
Newly qualified: £71,500
Total partners: 76
Apply to:Germaine VanGeyzel, graduate recruitment manager.
When to Apply:By 31 July 2017 for training contracts commencing in September 2019 and March 2020.
19-30 June 2017; 3-14 July 2017; 17-28 July 2017. Application deadline is 31 January 2017.
5-16 December 2016. Rolling application from 1 October 2016.