Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Burness Paull LLP

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘The clear vision of the firm and openness for change’, ‘the summer student programme gave me a great feel for the firm’, ‘friendly, good social life, approachable’, ‘I knew that it was one of the best firms in Scotland’, ‘well regarded, high quality of work and good in-house training’, ‘prestigious firm but down to earth’, ‘one of the top commercial firms in Scotland’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The ethos lives up to what I expected’, ‘the support staff’, ‘the people and the emphasis on social activities in the workplace’, ‘colleagues – this is a great place to work’, ‘the quality of the work and a good programme of broad training’, ‘BP has created an environment in which questions are welcomed’, ‘numerous areas of expertise’, ‘relaxed atmosphere but still motivates you to work hard’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Attitude to flexible working and work/life balance’, ‘high trainee intake means you don’t always get the seat you wanted’, ‘long hours – people seem to be regularly logged on until late at night’, ‘lack of inter-departmental socialising’, ‘varied working hours mean making plans during the week is not possible’, ‘discrepancy in attitude to trainees depending on team/line manager’

Best moment? Being heavily involved in a large property portfolio sale from start to finish’, ‘attending the employment tribunal’, ‘being offered a secondment to a client in London’, ‘completing a transaction in the exploration and production team which I was leading myself’, ‘contacting my first client directly and feeling like a lawyer’, ‘assisting on a loan agreement matter and the partner giving me consistent positive feedback’

Worst moment? ‘Making mistakes’, ‘the beginning when you don’t know what you’re doing’, ‘taking far too long and missing the main point in respect of a task’, ‘working in the office past midnight on a number of occasions’, ‘an issue caused by one solicitor not communicating with the other people on the matter’, ‘finishing at 1am on a really complicated, stressful day’

The Lex 100 verdict on Burness Paull LLP

The firm: “Burness Paull is a market-leading Scottish firm with a full commercial offering across Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. We invest in producing genuinely likeable lawyers with an agile mindset and no weaknesses in technical delivery. It’s the reason that we successfully service such a wide variety of clients across Scotland, the UK and multiple international jurisdictions.”

The deals: Acting for a retail park developer in Scotland, London & Scottish, in numerous acquisitions, site developments, asset management and disposals; advised on the largest hotel acquisition in Scotland of 2018 by Twenty14Holdings of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Edinburgh’s west end; acting as UK principal legal counsel to Savannah Petroleum, advising on its reverse takeover transaction involving the acquisition of oil & gas assets from Seven Energy International in Nigeria, together with a proposed $250m equity fundraising; continuing to act as sole legal advisor to long-standing client, FTSE-listed Standard Life Aberdeen plc, on its acquisition trail under its 1825 brand; advising STV on its sale of STV2 to That’s Media.

The clients: AG Barr; Dobbies; Harris Tweed; Highland Spring; JK Rowling; Miller Homes; Scottish Rugby Union; Sky; Standard Life Aberdeen; Total.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see for more details) Banking and finance; Commercial litigation; Corporate and commercial; Corporate tax; Crime: fraud; EU and competition; Health and safety; Insolvency and corporate recovery; Investment funds; Licensing; Pensions; Personal injury: defender

The verdict

The ‘enjoyable interview experience’ at Burness Paull is a sign that the firm ‘puts a lot of work and effort into recruitment’. The ‘supportive approach of colleagues during the summer placement’, which gave trainees ‘a great feel’, also swayed many a decision to join the Scottish firm. A Lex 100 Winner medal has consequently been awarded for its vacation scheme. Feedback was littered with references to the ‘excellent in-house training’, which is provided by specialist professional support lawyers. And a ‘superior culture’ is championed by ‘people at all levels who are really interested in and dedicated to your development’. What’s more, there is a ‘constant stream of exciting work’ which sees trainees ‘working for top clients on major deals, often alongside Magic Circle and US firms’, with recruits ‘given hands-on experience from day one’. Some seats are oversubscribed, which means that because of the ‘large trainee intake, it is unlikely you will get to experience all the departments you would like’. ‘Unpredictable hours in some departments’ also irked respondents; instances of ‘working very long hours at the weekend’ and ‘being in the office night after night’ are such examples. Fortunately, hard work is rewarded in the form of standout moments such as ‘getting to take the lead on a completion’, ‘attending the employment tribunal’ and ‘completing a deal with champagne after working on it for nearly half of my seat’. ‘Getting exposure to a large Brexit-related deal which involved an enormous amount of work and a number of court hearings’ was another impressive highlight. To work with ‘lovely people’ at ‘one of the most reputable law firms in Scotland’, apply to Burness Paull.

A day in the life of… Hayley Montgomery, trainee solicitor, Burness Paull

Hayley Montgomery, Burness Paull LLP

Departments to date: Banking and funds (Edinburgh) and dispute resolution (Glasgow)

University: University of Edinburgh (LLB Hons) and University of Glasgow (Diploma in Legal Practice)

Degree: LLB (Hons), 2(1)

9.00am: I like to start the day by making a tea and reading various daily briefings and news updates that I subscribe to. These are a mix of legal, political and general news but I find them a nice way to ease myself into the day.

9.15am: Once I have finished reading any updates, I review my to-do list to see what order my tasks should be completed in to determine the urgency of each. Some tasks are ongoing so I tend to turn to these when I’m slightly quieter. This list can change if anything urgent comes in, but I like to be able to keep track of what I need to do and when each task needs to be done by. Today I have a few slightly chunkier tasks that I need to complete by the end of the day so I prioritise these.

9.30am: We have been asked to prepare an advice note on the intellectual property risks of a marketing campaign for a sports client. Following an initial brief with the solicitor I am working with, I begin to research some key intellectual property legal points that I think are going to be of relevance. Once my initial research is done I begin to put together the structure for a note that I then flesh out with elements of research and pieces of advice to ensure it is tailored to this particular campaign. Once I am happy with the draft, I send it onto the solicitor to review before we finalise it and send it onto the partner.

11.30am: A solicitor in another office has asked me to deliver principal papers to court so that a winding up order can be granted. I have to liaise with clerks at court to make them aware that these papers will be delivered today and it is urgent so the order needs to be granted by tomorrow. Having collated the principal papers, I head to court to lodge the petition and then diarise to call the court in the morning to check on progress.

12.30pm: I’ve arrived back from court in time to go out for lunch with the trainees and the summer students. It is always nice getting to know colleagues outside the office in a more relaxed environment, and it’s a good excuse to get us all together.

2.30pm: Over the past few months I have been assisting in an English litigation case with an international aspect. We are now at the stage of preparing a substantive witness statement for a jurisdiction challenge so the partner, the solicitor and I have a catch up to discuss what section we each need to work on next. The section I have been allocated involves analysing case law, legal principles and the facts of the case to put together an accurate picture of what has taken place. Once I have collated my notes and formed a structure for the section, I begin drafting which I quickly realise will take me the rest of the afternoon. Thankfully I don’t have anything urgent so I can completely focus on this task so I can get the draft section to the partner by the end of the day.

5.30pm: Having finished my work for the day as well as preparing a list of tasks that I need to do tomorrow, I can now head off and meet some friends for dinner.

About the firm

Managing partner: Tamar Tammes

Other offices: Aberdeen, Glasgow

Who we are: We are a top-tier commercial law firm serving a UK and international client base from Scotland. At the last count we were advising clients in more than 60 jurisdictions.

What we do: We work across sectors that are vital to our economy, with a focus on oil and gas, financial sector, property and infrastructure, and corporate Scotland.

What we’re looking for: We’re looking for academically excellent, well rounded, focused and sharp individuals.

What you’ll do: During your two-year traineeship you will have four stimulating six-month seats in four practice areas. We are also recognised for the quality of our extensive training programme.

Perks: Competitive salary; holiday entitlement; contributory pension plan; bonus scheme; life assurance; legal discounts; healthcare benefits, including a health cash plan; interest-free season ticket loans for commuting; reduced rates for city-centre car parking; cycle-to-work scheme.

Sponsorship: Payment of Diploma in Professional Legal Practice.