Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Bevan Brittan LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Bevan Brittan LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘I wanted to work for public sector clients’, ‘friendly culture’, ‘specialism in clinical negligence’, ‘the firm has traditionally had a strong client base in the public sector’, ‘it’s a growing office with lots of prosperity across different markets and I wanted to be part of that’, ‘good reputation for work/life balance’, ‘focus on the healthcare sector’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Friendly and inclusive culture’, ‘being able to undertake high-quality work for big-name clients’, ‘the amount of support available and focus on personal development’, ‘the people – they are inclusive, approachable and foster good learning and work experience. They are encouraging and build up my confidence’, ‘the expertise of fee earners’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Communication within the firm can be poor’, ‘lack of transparency around seats and NQ positions’, ‘perhaps we are not as widely known as we should be’, ‘the office can be a bit cold’, ‘the firm could organise more social activities to do together’, ‘some internal processes can be disorganised’

Best moment? ‘Receiving very positive feedback during my recent appraisal’, ‘immersing myself in lots of different aspects of my role, the team and the business’, ‘helping to prepare the bundles and being actively involved with clients and consultants in a mediation. I was made to feel like part of the day’, ‘assisting in the preparation for a trial’

Worst moment? ‘Moments where I have doubted myself!’, ‘I occasionally get asked to do admin, like prepare court bundles. But I honestly don’t mind doing this as it’s just a small part of a bigger process’, ‘sometimes the level of consistency of work in my current seat’

The Lex 100 verdict on Bevan Brittan LLP

The firm: Bevan Brittan has a strong public sector focus which includes work in the healthcare, education and local government sectors. The employment, insurance and real estate teams are also highly regarded. The firm has offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and London.

The deals: Representing Sysmex (UK) in a multimillion-pound procurement challenge brought against Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust; assisted Peabody with its £38m acquisition of 190 affordable units at the Elephant and Castle regeneration site; advised Together Housing Group on ISDA derivative agreements with three of the client’s lenders; advised Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust on its plan to recruit nurses from the Philippines; representing North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust in a number of disputes arising from the defective design and construction of the Peterborough City Hospital.

The clients: Birmingham Women’s NHS Foundation Trust; Creagh Concrete Products; Defra; East Wick and Sweetwater Projects; Legal & General; London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham; Newcastle University; Plymouth City Council; Viridor Waste; Warrington Borough Council.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Administrative and public law; Clinical negligence; Commercial litigation; Construction; Court Of Protection; Education; Employment; Energy; Health; Health and safety; Immigration; Local government; Pensions; Personal injury: defendant; Planning; Power (including electricity and renewables); Professional discipline; Project finance and PFI; Property litigation; Social housing.

The verdict

Bevan Brittan’s ‘strong client base in the public sector’, in particular its ‘reputation and experience in the health industry’ was a clear draw for trainees. Almost all respondents referred to the ‘approachable partners and supervisors’ with whom they share office space and who are ‘keen to help you meet your training objectives’. This helps considerably with ‘building up confidence’. A Lex 100 Winner gong has been awarded to Bevan Brittan for its work/life balance. Thanks to the national firm’s sector specialism, fee earners have ‘considerable expertise’ and trainees are given the opportunity to ‘undertake high-quality work for some big-name clients’. The main bugbears for recruits were the ‘lack of transparency around seats and NQ positions’ and the ‘poor communication within the firm’. Others felt that Bevan Brittan is ‘not as widely known as it should be’. However, a plethora of standout work moments kept trainees on their toes, such as ‘attending a mediation with a local authority over a construction dispute’ and ‘a six-day trial in the High Court’. Although there were some grumbles about ‘admin tasks, such as court bundles’, it was generally recognised that this is ‘a small part of a bigger process’. Undertaking a client secondment with a large NHS trust was a noteworthy experience for one trainee, who was afforded the opportunity to ‘gain a true insight into our client’s objectives’. Corporate Social Responsibility is ‘extremely important’ at the firm, with ‘some form of CSR happening every couple of weeks’. For a firm with a ‘public sector focus’ and a ‘good reputation for training and work/life balance’, take a closer look at Bevan Brittan.

A day in the life of… Claire Bradford, second-year trainee, Bevan Brittan LLP

Claire Bradford, Bevan Brittan LLP

Departments to date: litigation, advisory and regulatory; clinical risk; commercial

University: London South Bank University

Degree: Law, First Class

8.10am: I choose to start work fairly early in the morning: I value the time when I first arrive to consider all tasks for that day and how best to approach them. This enables me to work as efficiently as I can; I begin the day by dealing with any particularly urgent matters. I can see that for today, I have a number of deadlines, and decide that I will start with drafting the letter of instruction to an expert in one of our high-value clinical negligence cases, seeking his expertise on complex issues of causation.

Once I have considered and prioritised tasks for the day, I make myself a cup of tea (one of many to come!) and make a start on the letter of instruction. I review in detail the particulars of claim in order to determine which particular allegations require comment from our expert. After also reviewing the claimant’s medical records, I have enough information to prepare the letter and send the draft to my supervisor for approval.

9.20am: There is a conference scheduled at 11am to take place on a case I am assisting on. This allows me time to make progress with a number of other tasks, such as contacting potential witnesses to be involved in another case and telephoning chambers to book counsel for hearings and trials. I make a detailed attendance note of all calls out to witnesses and chambers, so that our records clearly show the matters discussed and my colleagues can view these if required.

10.50am: I gather all relevant documents to take to the conference with counsel, witnesses and experts. My supervisor has asked me to take a detailed note of comments on the allegations and the claimant’s prognosis during the conference. Once the conference has finished, we are in a much clearer position as to the strengths and weaknesses of our case and we are able to update our client on whether there is any change to the litigation risk of continuing to defend the claim.

I take some time to finalise the conference note and list any arising action points.

12.30pm: It’s a nice day outside so I decide to take an early lunch break, hoping to beat the queues in Pret! Post-lunch, I offer to make the tea round – a good excuse to catch up with some of my colleagues from other pods, see how their day has been and discuss our plans for the weekend!

1.45pm: The next task I have on my list is to draft a letter of advice to our client; we have received medical records, expert reports and obtained witness statements for a particular case and I make a start on carrying out a review of key documents and considering our advice on liability and causation. This takes me well into the afternoon but I’m confident that I have carefully considered all evidence and send my draft letter to my supervisor to approve.

3.40pm: My inbox has filled up while I have been drafting the letter of advice. I have been asked to assist with disclosure and prepare a list of documents, detailing all relevant documents which we have had or have access to. Once drafted, the list of documents is sent to the solicitor who oversees this case for approval.

4.20pm: Next, I contact a number of experts and witnesses to arrange a conference for a case. It is a case in which the experts express different views on the claimant’s prognosis; the significance of this is the extent of damages which may be payable to the claimant. Now that emails requesting availability have been sent, hopefully we’ll have a date in the diary by the end of the week.

4.50pm: Not long to go until end of the month office drinks! I spend some time diarising directions received from the court before heading out to meet my colleagues in the client suite. It is a nice way to end the day: having drinks with pizza and catching up with friends!

About the firm

Senior partner: Joanne Easterbrook

Managing partner: Duncan Weir

Other offices: Birmingham, Leeds, London

Who we are: Bevan Brittan is a UK top 100 national law firm providing a comprehensive range of legal and advisory services to over 300 private sector businesses, as well as being a market-leading firm within health and social care, housing and local and central government.

What we do: Based in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and London, our award-winning teams provide commercial, corporate, property, regulatory, employment and litigation (commercial and clinical negligence) legal advice.

What we’re looking for: We are looking for bright people with sound common sense and plenty of energy, who can think logically and clearly. An interest in the type of clients we work for is essential. You need drive, commitment, willingness to take responsibility and the ability to work and relate well with others.

What you’ll do: Our trainee solicitors get a tailored training and development programme that gives them early exposure to real work for real clients. Trainees complete four six-month seats with a choice across all our departments.

Perks: Life insurance, private healthcare insurance, pension, group income protection, health assessments, cycle scheme.

Sponsorship: We sponsor fees for you if you have not yet completed the GDL or LPC. We will also pay you a £5,000 bursary while you study.