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? ‘I had informal work experience with the firm and enjoyed my time’, ‘I was looking for a medium-sized firm based in central Manchester’, ‘the culture, work and people are great’, ‘I knew I would be exposed to good legal work’, ‘the culture is known as being friendly – something the firm lives up to!’, ‘I chose to join after meeting the team and hearing the positive opinions they had’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Everyone is friendly and the location (in the centre of Manchester) is great’, ‘the sociable culture and the people’, ‘not too much pressure to hit targets’, ‘excellent quality and volume of work – I am never bored!’, ‘excellent client contact’, ‘great social side and a relaxed atmosphere’, ‘all staff members are friendly and welcoming’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Limited NQs/early PQE solicitors and in some departments the supervision is not great because of this’, ‘behind the times in some ways – still lots of paper and some outdated internal processes’, ‘technology improvements could be made to assist fee earners’, ‘the level of responsibility and quality of work differs across departments’, ‘secretarial staff issues’

Best moment? ‘Participating in the annual Charity Challenge in the Lake District’, ‘supporting an associate on a ten-day civil trial (which is usually unheard of in that area of law) and winning’, ‘every day has been brilliant so far’, ‘getting involved with some really quality work and feeling fully involved yet fully supported throughout’

Worst moment? ‘Not having enough work to do’, ‘uncertainty about seat placements’, ‘missing the staff drinks’, ‘carrying out mundane admin tasks’, ‘not being able to meet a deadline for a demanding client’, ‘spilling coffee all down myself on my first day’, ‘dealing with family illness and bereavement, but the firm could not have been more supportive during this stressful time’

The Lex 100 verdict on Brabners LLP

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 396 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.

The clients: Beaverbrooks the Jewellers; Ben Stokes; Groupon Inc; Liverpool Football Club; Martin McColl; Peel Land and Property; Primark Stores; The Riverside Group; Torus62.

The star performers:

(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Agriculture and estates; Banking and finance; Brand management; Charities and not-for-profit; Corporate tax; Crime: general; Debt recovery; Employment; Family; Health and safety; Health; Intellectual property; IT and telecoms; Media and entertainment; Pensions; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Planning and environment; Property litigation; Social housing; Sport.

The verdict

A ‘great reputation in the north west’ and an ‘excellent name for training and the quality of work it receives’ encapsulates Brabners. Several respondents mentioned previous employment or work experience at the firm as a driver for joining as a trainee. The hands-on training is ‘organised and structured, with support being provided at every opportunity’. One of the best things about the firm is the ‘variety of interesting work and clients; one day you can be acting for a multi-million pound, multi-national company and the next a small local charity’. There are secondment opportunities too: ‘spending time at a large plc client of the firm’ was a particularly memorable experience. Impressively, Brabners is a six-time Lex 100 Winner for job satisfaction, living up to expectations and quality of work among others. Work/life balance and social activities are also ‘far more valued’ than at some comparable firms. Nevertheless, complaints were made about ‘outdated internal processes’ and about the technology, to which ‘improvements could be made’. Other gripes were the inconsistency in workload and ‘uncertainty about NQ positions’. On the upside, ‘the culture within the firm is second to none’ and ‘partners and other solicitors are approachable and willing to spend time to assist you, not just to get a piece of work correct, but to help develop you as a lawyer’. Participating in the ‘trainee-run “Big Idea” charity day’ was etched on one trainee’s mind as their best moment, whilst ‘travelling to Switzerland to assist on an international arbitration’ was the highlight for another recruit. To work at a firm ‘with an exceptional regional reputation’ which offers an ‘excellent quality of work’, where trainees are ’empowered to develop to their full potential’, consider Brabners.

Why Brabners LLP?

, 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), Sam Mabon 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: Manchester, Preston.

What we do: 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: Graduates and those undertaking the GDL or LPC who can demonstrate intelligence, intuition, humour, approachability and commitment and have some connection or interest in the North West.

How you’ll be trained: Brabners is one of the few law firms that holds Investor in People status and has a comprehensive training and development programme. Trainees are given a high degree of responsibility and are an integral part of the culture of the firm. Each trainee will have partner-level supervision. Personal development appraisals are conducted at three- and six-monthly intervals to ensure that trainee progress is valuable and informed. The training programme is overseen by the training principal, Dr Tony Harvey and each centre has a designated trainee partner.

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

Sponsorship: Full LPC fees paid.