Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Bristows LLP

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Guarantee of a seat in patent litigation’, ‘focus on intellectual property’, ‘combination of friendly atmosphere, interesting work and clients’, ‘top-tier technology and life sciences clients’, ‘the friendly and open culture the firm cultivates – you are able to ask anyone any questions you may have’, ‘interested in life sciences and technology’, ‘very positive application process’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The fact that most of your training contract can be formed of IP seats’, ‘high-end clients’, ‘everyone is friendly and approachable’, ‘the tech clients and the varied issues they bring means the work is really interesting’, ‘the opportunity to work with exemplary solicitors and clients’, ‘the culture: extremely open, friendly and supportive’, ‘the work feels collaborative as opposed to individual’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Feedback is difficult to come by at times – it would be helpful to have more advice on how to improve our work so that fewer changes are needed further down the line’, ‘the seat allocation process lacks transparency and sometimes feels unfair’, ‘the queue for the microwaves at lunch’, ‘lack of document production support outside normal working hours’, ‘no canteen’

Best moment? ‘Meeting world experts relating to the patent litigation case I was working on’, ‘being supported to set up a trainee know-how group’, ‘drafting an advice note to a client which was sent off with minimal amendments’, ‘excellent secondment to a leading client’, ‘going to court for a patent dispute’, ‘identifying errors that others were thankful for’

Worst moment? ‘Getting my bottom choice secondment’, ‘spelling the name of a partner at another firm wrong in an email’, ‘twenty hours of meetings with expert witnesses in the first week – writing up attendance notes took about a week in itself!’, ‘late night bundle-checking’, ‘when my work was changed down the line without people taking the time to explain why and how it could have been improved’

The Lex 100 verdict on Bristows LLP

The firm: “Quality work, leading clients and an environment where you’re given all the early responsibility you can handle!”

The deals: Advised Mondelēz on its dispute with Poundland regarding the similarity between the former’s Toblerone and the latter’s Twin Peaks chocolate bar; defended Janssen Sciences and G.D. Searle against a revocation brought by Sandoz and Hexal, relating to darunavir, which is a key ingredient in its anti-HIV drug Prezista; assisted Cartier in preventing the sale of counterfeit Cartier jewellery at a London auction house; represented Google and Samsung against Unwired Planet in patent infringement allegations; advised British American Tobacco on UK legislative and regulatory restrictions on e-cigarette advertising.

The clients: Alzheimer’s Research UK; Deloitte; Dropbox; Johnson & Johnson; Mastercard; Moet Hennessy; Philips; Telenor; Teva; WPP.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see for more details) Brand management; Charities and not-for-profit; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Commercial property: corporate occupiers; Competition litigation; Data protection privacy and cybersecurity; EU and competition; Intellectual property; IT and telecoms; M&A: smaller deals up to £50m; Media and entertainment (including media finance); PATMA: Trade mark attorneys; Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.

The verdict

An ‘expertise in intellectual property, the guarantee of a seat in patent litigation and a specialism in the life science and technology sectors’ all make Bristows stand out from the crowd. An ‘inquisitive and almost geeky atmosphere’ pervades the firm and some trainees found the ‘high percentage of scientists’ employed by Bristows particularly alluring. Recruits ‘do more than just the usual trainee jobs’, including ‘leading the negotiation of a data processing agreement’ and ‘attending a meeting with senior counsel and business management at the headquarters of a major corporation after a data incident’. This is the result of having ‘much more interaction with partners’, the approachability of whom has earned the firm a Lex 100 Winner medal. Another gong was earned in the social life category. Bristows is ‘extremely open, friendly and supportive’ and trainees appreciate that ‘the quality of your work and how you approach it is valued over face-time culture’. That there is no canteen and ‘no opportunities for international secondments’ irked some respondents. However, opportunities for client secondments are abundant; trainees can undertake ‘excellent quality work with clients at the cutting edge of the law’, which allows them to ‘consider legal advice from a whole new angle’. Grumbles about ‘late night bundling’ and ‘spending an evening preparing documents for forty shareholders’ made an appearance in the feedback but this was generally considered to be a small trade-off in the wider context of the innovative and friendly firm. To work at a ‘large enough firm with such expertise that we have world-leading clients but small enough that as a trainee you’re a genuinely integral part of the team’, consider Bristows.

A day in the life of… Christopher Stubbs, first-year trainee, Bristows LLP

Christopher Stubbs, Bristows LLP

Departments to date: Patent litigation, corporate

University: University of Liverpool

Degree: Biochemistry (MBiolSci), First class

8.00am: I start my working day early and I use this time to get a head start on my workload. I find this time invaluable, as I am very unlikely to be disturbed.

9.00am: After checking my schedule for the day I attend a video conference with a client. We are taking evidence from fact witnesses for an upcoming trial. The witnesses are all scientists and so I make sure to take a careful note of what they say so that I can research any unfamiliar concepts after the conference.

10.30am: I draft an email to the same client summarising the outcome of the video conference and listing the next steps to be taken by the Bristows team.

11.00am: Along with one of my colleagues, I attend the weekly German language lessons provided by Bristows. There has been a steady improvement in my German since starting at Bristows but clearly there is still some way to go!

12.00pm: Upon returning to my desk, I have been asked by a partner to produce a research note on the enforcement of UK judgments in foreign jurisdictions. I complete the note and submit it to the partner for review. We agree to meet in the afternoon to discuss any comments that the partner may have.

1.00pm: I attend a ‘patent litigation know-how’ session, where associates and partners present on recent case law and developments in court procedure. I pay attention to the way the presentations are delivered because I will be presenting next month! I also help myself to the complimentary lunch and catch up with some of my colleagues after the presentations have finished.

2.00pm: Now that the partner has had a chance to review my research note we meet to discuss any amendments that may be needed. I then make the required changes and the note is ready to be sent to the client.

3.00pm: It is time for the weekly meeting for one of the cases that I am working on. I take a note of any action points, as I am responsible for updating the case action list. I am also assigned various tasks to complete during the course of the week. These tasks include drafting a letter in response to the opposing party’s solicitors and conducting an expert witness search.

4.00pm: A senior associate has asked me to review a witness statement that they have been drafting in preparation for making an application to the court. I carefully read the witness statement, marking up any comments that I have as I go along and paying special attention to any cross-references. I then return the marked up document to the senior associate for review.

5.30pm: I check my to-do list and decide to complete a piece of research that I was assigned yesterday. The research task requires me to browse publicly available resources in order to try to determine the number of sales of a particular product in the UK. I have been asked to carry this out, as we believe the product has infringed a patent belonging to one of the firm’s clients.

6.30pm: I take the opportunity to update my training contract record with the tasks that I completed last week. I then submit the completed section of my training contract record to my supervising partner, who will review my entries in due course.

7.00pm: My working day is over. I meet up with the other members of the Bristows football team and we leave the office to go and play a six-a-side football match in the local corporate league.

About the firm

Senior partner: Pat Treacy

Managing partners: Liz Cohen, Marek Petecki

Other offices: Brussels

Who we are: Bristows LLP is a medium-sized firm that handles the kind of work normally associated with only the largest firms. Established over 180 years ago, we have a client list that includes leading businesses from a variety of sectors including life sciences, technology and brands.

What we do: Our core practice areas are intellectual property; information technology and data protection; corporate; commercial, technology and copyright disputes; real estate; regulatory; EU and competition; employment and tax.

What we’re looking for: We are looking for the future partners of the firm. We don’t just look for bright graduates – personality is important too. Team spirit and a passion for challenges and success are prized qualities.

What you’ll do: During the two years’ training, you will spend time in each of our main departments, including a guaranteed seat in patent litigation. You will work closely with our partners and associates. Part of your training may include a secondment to the in-house department of one of our leading clients.

Perks: Life assurance; pension scheme; private medical insurance; travel insurance; eye care; health assessment; employee assistance programme; cycle-to-work scheme; season ticket loan; discounted gym membership; onsite café/deli.

Sponsorship: GDL and LPC fees paid in full, plus a maintenance grant of £8,000 for each course.