Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Brabners LLP

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘It’s not a huge firm where you are just one of many’, ‘my impression of the firm during my assessment centre was a very accurate reflection of the values it advertised itself as having’, ‘work/life balance, interesting work and clients, friendly atmosphere’, ‘friendly and inclusive culture’, ‘Brabners takes great pride in its local origins’, ‘I did some work experience in 2016 and immediately fell in love with the firm’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The culture – everyone talks to everyone and the work/life balance is brilliant’, ‘they truly see and appreciate you. We are not simply a number in a big business’, ‘the people and the culture – everyone is approachable and there isn’t a hierarchy’, ‘there is a real family feel’, ‘the awareness of the impact of the pandemic on individuals and initiatives to combat this’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Lack of discussion surrounding seat moves’, ‘lack of international opportunities’, ‘due to lockdown restrictions, we have been unable to socialise and network with each other’, ‘the firm has historically been slow to change but this has improved markedly in recent times’, ‘the IT system’

Best moment? ‘Covering an all-day trial and getting an unexpected win’, ‘seeing my completed work used by high-level clients’, ‘going to Manchester County Court within the first few weeks of my training contract and being successful’, ‘feeling part of the team’, ‘meetings with counsel’, ‘being offered a NQ role in the family department’

Worst moment? ‘Losing a large document due to a tech error after I’d stayed late to complete it’, ‘having to manage a particularly busy week which saw me working long hours’, ‘the fact my training has mostly been remote because of Covid-19’, ‘not being able to meet my colleagues in person or attend the office as much as I would like’

The Lex 100 verdict on Brabners LLP

Brabners is a ‘fiercely independent law firm, rooted in its region, and has a strong tradition of being a commercial partner to its clients’. With offices in Manchester, Liverpool and Preston, it seems there is very little the North West firm can’t do. Six Lex 100 Winner medals have been awarded to Brabners this year. The ‘prioritisation of a work/life balance’ and a ‘positive, inclusive culture’ where ‘staff are genuinely heard and valued’ are but some of the reasons for this feat. There is a ‘family feel’ at the firm, with ‘no real hierarchy; everyone is approachable, including senior partners’. Like all firms, trainee life at Brabners has its challenges, such as ‘the late communication in relation to seat allocation’ and ‘the slow and unreliable IT’. Although ‘the training can feel less formal’, the advantage is that supervisors are more approachable as a result. ‘We have the opportunity to work on all aspects of a matter and work alongside a partner the majority of the time, which is a great way to learn and develop the skills that we need’. ‘Particularly busy weeks’ and ‘preparing bundles’ were some of trainees’ worst moments. Moreover, ‘starting my training contract mid-pandemic was really daunting’, but, encouragingly, ‘Brabners actually made it so easy’ and ‘did everything possible to accommodate us’ so that ‘it has not had a huge impact on our training’. The very high-quality work on offer has given rise to highlights such as ‘assisting a partner in successfully defending an unfair dismissal claim at the employment tribunal’, ‘having my own workload’ and ‘providing initial advice to a new client by telephone’. To work at one of the best commercial law firms in the North West, research Brabners.

The firm: One of the top North West independent legal practices, Brabners LLP has offices in Liverpool, Manchester and Preston. The firm has more than 390 employees with nationally recognised experts in key practice areas such as corporate, commercial, property, employment and pensions, litigation, sports, social housing, charity, family and private client law. The firm has a broad client base that includes plcs, public sector bodies, banks, other commercial, corporate and professional businesses and high-net-worth individuals.

It was rated as the third best law firm to work for in the UK by workplace engagement specialists Best Companies in 2021. It was also placed 34th in the ‘North West’s Best Companies to Work For’ category, an improvement of 28 places from last year’s result, and 47th in ‘The UK’s 100 Best Large Companies to Work For’, another improvement on last year as it climbed an impressive 23 places.

These results, which are based partly on colleague feedback, demonstrate the firm’s ongoing commitment to its people and culture.

The clients: Beaverbrooks the Jewellers; JD Wetherspoon; Liverpool Football Club; Martin McColl Ltd; Lawn Tennis Association; Peel Land and Property; Primark Stores; Torus62; The Very Group; Leicester City Football Club.

The deals: Advising Liverpool Football Club on the expansion of the Anfield Road stand and the application to hold concerts and major sporting events at Anfield Stadium; advised TalkTalk Telecom Group PLC on the sale of FibreNation Limited to CityFibre for an aggregate cash consideration of £200m; advised new client AO World on its strategic partnership with Vodafone; advising JD Wetherspoon Plc on policy in relation to transsexual and other non-binary colleagues; advised Torus62 Limited (one of the UK’s largest registered housing providers) on the amendment and restatement of its loan facilities with Santander, RBS, Barclays and Nationwide.

Why Brabners LLP?

Brabners LLP has expanded rapidly in recent years, enabling us to provide a greater range of services and increased strength and depth. We recruit and retain a team of highly motivated and skilled professionals and support staff, committed to delivering effective, client-focused legal services. Our proactive approach is constructive, committed and down to earth, and we work closely with our clients to provide commercially realistic solutions to their legal problems.

Brabners LLP is one of the few law firms that holds ‘Investor in People’ status and we place great emphasis on the structure and progression of our training programme. The programme is continually re-appraised to ensure that it meets the requirements of each trainee solicitor.

Brabners LLP is consistently listed as an award winner in The Lex 100 student guide to the UK’s premier law firms.

As a firm we strongly believe that trainees have a place within our teams and encourage them to contribute to the work of their teams by allocating them responsibility from the outset. In each of your four seats you will spend time with a partner or senior lawyer, although you may also assist other fee-earners within the department. Your work will be closely monitored by your principal who will give support, guidance and assistance.

Trainees are encouraged to discuss with their principal any problems they encounter as part of our strong ‘open-door’ policy which encourages trainees to seek help whenever they need it. We recognise and encourage an eagerness to learn and consider a genuine ambition to succeed to be an attribute. We willingly devote the time required to ensure our trainees achieve their goals.

We strongly believe a wide range of disciplines should be experienced before a decision to specialise is made. Our comprehensive training and development programme includes all that is required by the SRA and also provides an induction course and ongoing in-house training and development.

Personal development appraisals are conducted at three- and six-monthly intervals to ensure that trainee progress is valuable and informed. Training and staff development in the firm is the responsibility of our training principal, Dr Tony Harvey, and the training programme is overseen by the firm’s trainee partners, Rupert Gill and Helen Brown (Liverpool), Ian Mylrea and Joanne Radcliff (Manchester), and Nicola Whittle (Preston).

Life as a trainee with us is not all work and we encourage a positive work/life balance. Our offices maintain a friendly and social environment, something envied by many larger firms. Brabners LLP’s social life will play a great part in your life as a trainee and our trainees are encouraged to organise regular social events, including the annual staff conference, and our annual pro bono activities frequently raise in excess of £30,000 for the charity chosen by our staff. Brabners LLP colleagues regularly socialise after office hours, with Liverpool and Manchester having vibrant young professional scenes in which trainees soon become involved. We are active participants in a football league and regularly engage in other sports with other professionals. Officers of the regional JLDs are frequently Brabners LLP trainees.

It is our practice to select seven trainees each year, three based in Liverpool, three in Manchester and one in Preston. We seek to recruit people who have great potential to succeed. We are not looking for clones, but individuals with varying personalities, who offer and receive a great deal of benefit from their time with us. You should be able to demonstrate intelligence, intuition, humour, approachability and commitment and have some connection with, or interest in, the North West. We prefer candidates to have achieved, or to be forecast to achieve, a good 2(1) degree but, ultimately, our assessment of you is based on our belief in your ability.

About the firm

Managing partner: Nik White

Other offices: Liverpool, Manchester and Preston

Who we are: The firm carries out a wide range of specialist legal services in a number of core sectors including real estate, business services, healthcare, media, technology, retail, sport and charity.

What we’re looking for in a trainee: Graduates and those undertaking the GDL or LPC who can demonstrate intelligence, intuition, humour, approachability and commitment.

What you’ll do: Our belief is that a wide range of legal disciplines should be experienced before a decision to specialise is made. Because we advise some of the region’s most successful businesses, across numerous industry sectors, our trainees have many opportunities to experience different specialisms of law, to deal directly with clients and to assist on complex transactions with close partner support.

Perks: 25 days’ holiday, travel loan, fresh fruit delivered to the office, charity and social events, payroll giving, colleague recognition, smart agile working practices, buy and sell holidays, pension scheme, subsidised discounts in retail stores, cycle to work and Medicash.

Sponsorship details: Full LPC fees paid.

Equality, diversity and inclusion