Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Charles Russell Speechlys

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Charles Russell Speechlys

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Guildford-based but with a City presence’, ‘because of the level of private client work’, ‘my interest in sport and commercial work’, ‘medium-sized firm with a small number of trainees’, ‘internationally-recognised private client offering’, ‘very positive vac scheme experience’, ‘fun and less formal atmosphere’, ‘good reputation’, ‘it is a challenger brand on the corporate side of things’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Good work is valued, everyone is genuinely helpful and wants the best for you and there is workplace integrity and diversity with little to no politics’, ‘work/life balance is generally good’, ‘associates and partners are all experts in their particular fields and want you to succeed’, ‘very detailed feedback on work’, ‘the working environment – fun and intelligent colleagues’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Different cultures in different offices leading to inconsistency in approach and attitude’, ‘poor IT’, ‘NQ salary isn’t quite as big as some other firms’, ‘no consistent approach to agile working’, ‘at times the workload can be heavy’, ‘no parking at the Guildford office’, ‘some people power trip’, ‘may not be possible for some trainees to train in their favoured seat’

Best moment? ‘Completing on a multi-million pound property purchase’, ‘client secondment’, ‘a partner saying I was working to a 3-4 year PQE standard’, ‘providing comments and suggestions on a draft Indian law will’, ‘attending an all-day meeting at a client’s house and having lunch with all the family’, ‘completing on a corporate transaction worth over £20m’

Worst moment? ‘Staying until 3.30am one night to help put together an urgent court bundle’, ‘billing!’, ‘being left to organise the department Christmas social with no idea of what people expected’, ‘receiving 40 files on my first day’, ‘my first-seat review knocked me for six – it took me a while to settle into the environment of a law firm’

The Lex 100 verdict on Charles Russell Speechlys

The firm: Headquartered in London with offices in the UK, Europe and the Middle East, Charles Russell Speechlys offers a broad range of services. Private wealth services are the firm’s core focus, with high-net-worth individuals and privately-owned businesses among its clients. Other areas of focus include corporate, real estate and TMT.

The deals: Represented the Joint Official Liquidators of six Cayman Islands registered companies, known collectively as the AwalCos, who were among the 15 resulting defendants in a multibillion dollar trial; acted for various celebrity claimants in the group voicemail interception litigation against News Group Newspapers Limited (News of the World and The Sun) for the unlawful gathering of private and confidential information through voicemail interception; advised the shareholders of iconic British sports car manufacturers, Morgan Motor Company Limited, on the sale of a majority stake in the company to Investindustrial, a leading European investment group; acted for the ITF, on its 25-year, US$3 billion project with the sports investment group Kosmos to revamp the Davis Cup; advised British Land plc on the sale of apartments and ongoing matters at its super-prime Clarges development in central London.

The clients: Bellway; BGF; Central Bank of Bahrain; Derwent; Caffe Nero; Coinbase; FarFetch; Fidelity; Howard de Walden; NIKE; Stonegate.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Agriculture and estates; Art and cultural property; Banking and finance; Charities and not-for-profit; Commercial litigation; Commercial property: corporate occupiers; Corporate and commercial; Debt recovery; Emerging markets; Employment; Immigration: business; Insolvency and corporate recovery; Intellectual property; IT and telecoms; Media and entertainment; Personal Tax, trusts and probate; Professional negligence; Property litigation; Residential property; Sport.

The verdict

A ‘prestigious firm with a human side’, Charles Russell Speechlys offers a ‘unique mix of private client and commercial work’. The London-headquartered firm also has offices in Cheltenham and Guildford and is a ‘market leader in sports, media and technology law’. Trainees are ‘really valued’ and ‘encouraged to take on responsibility’ by ‘partners who do what they can to help you get the most out of your training contract’. Indeed, colleagues will ‘usually find time to go through work you’ve done and advise how you can improve’. There is a ‘good work/life balance in most departments’ thanks to a ‘positive approach to a life outside of work’. All this without compromising at all on high-quality work, ‘often with an international element’. Client secondments are also on offer; one trainee particularly enjoyed their time at ITV, where they were ‘exposed to interesting work across a variety of disciplines’ and even ‘managed to spot a few celebs’. Some respondents reported ‘a bit of a divide between the regional offices and London’. Others pointed to the fact that there are ‘limited training seats in some of the areas which are strongly marketed by the firm’. ‘Working long hours on a deal which then fell through’ was lamented, whilst ‘signing the wrong part of a document and the client having to come back in to re-sign’ was embarrassing. Proud moments included ‘realising I was the team’s go-to on a specific technical area of law which I had researched’ and ‘meeting counsel on my own and attending a hearing’. For a friendly firm with a ‘breadth of practice areas’ where everyone ‘wants you to succeed’, consider Charles Russell Speechlys.

A day in the life of… Ed Garton, trainee, Charles Russell Speechlys

Ed Garton, Charles Russell Speechlys

Departments to date: Tax, trusts and succession; banking and finance

University: University College London

Degree: Classics, first class

8.45am: As I walk to our office in Blackfriars, I check the news and read any emails that have come in overnight.

9.20am: I grab a coffee and breakfast from Charlie’s, the firm’s canteen, and have a chat with colleagues before making my way to my desk. I prepare my to-do list for the day and start responding to any emails that I can action quickly. At Charles Russell Speechlys, trainees are given a large amount of responsibility on files from the outset of the training contract while also being provided with a strong support network by other fee-earners.

9.45am: One of the senior associates and I have an all-parties call at 10am. We take the time to discuss any outstanding issues ahead of the call. Afterwards, we discuss how best to approach each point and agree on an action plan. I draft an email summarising the content of the discussion and send it to the client.

11.30am: I have been involved in drafting a pack of security documents for an upcoming transaction. I read over what I have prepared before handing it over to the associate for comments. We then review each document individually and discuss any comments that she has made. Trainees are frequently encouraged to give their opinions on matters and so I explain my reasoning behind a number of my amendments. After a lengthy discussion, I make any required changes and draft an email to the other side’s solicitors, attaching the documents for comment.

1.00pm: A couple of the other trainees and I meet up for lunch. We head out to Paternoster Square to get some food and take some time out in the sun. There are plenty of options for food and drink around the office, but lunch is always available every day in Charlie’s. There is even a food market outside of the office every Tuesday.

2.00pm: A signing meeting with one of our clients is scheduled for 2.30pm. I help to prepare the meeting room and set out the documents (a number of which I have drafted) for signing. I explain the purpose of each document to the client and ensure that all the documents have been signed correctly.

3.30pm: After the meeting, I return any missed calls and reply to any emails that have come in while I have been away from my desk. I make a start on a legal opinion relating to an ongoing transaction.

4.00pm: I attend a business development meeting with a few of the other trainees. We are planning a networking event for the trainee intake and for any contacts that they might have. At Charles Russell Speechlys, there are plenty of opportunities for trainees to get involved with BD. The firm actively encourages us to take those opportunities and is supportive of trainee initiatives in this area.

6.20pm: I review my to-do list and make a note of any tasks that need to be addressed over the next few days before heading off to play football for the firm. There are plenty of sports teams to get involved with during the week and ideas for new clubs are always welcome. A group of trainees will also attend a local legal advice clinic every Wednesday as one of the firm’s many pro bono initiatives. On Fridays, you will always find a large group of trainees and other members of the firm at the bar on our doorstep, Little Fable.

About the firm

Senior partner: Christopher Page

Managing partner: James Carter

Other offices: Cheltenham, Guildford, Doha, Dubai, Geneva, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Manama, Paris, Zurich.

Who we are: Charles Russell Speechlys is a law firm headquartered in London, with offices in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Hong Kong.

What we do: We have an unusually broad range of skills and experience across the full spectrum of business and personal needs. This gives us a wider perspective, clear insight and a strongly commercial long-term view. We use this approach to secure the growth of our clients, and it has made us a leader in the world of dynamic growth and family businesses. Major corporates and institutions find our more considered and personal approach a refreshing alternative to conventional business law firms.

What we’re looking for: We require candidates to achieve a minimum of a 2(1) in their degree and be able to demonstrate other key attributes outside of academia, such as teamwork, leadership, communication skills and initiative. People come to us from all backgrounds and degree disciplines, with a range of views that combine to give us our distinctive perspective on the law.

What you’ll do: The two-year training contract at Charles Russell Speechlys is divided into four seats, giving trainees the opportunity to experience a range of different practice areas before qualification. Throughout the training contract, there are regular meetings and reviews between the trainees and their supervisors to ensure they are continuing to receive a broad range of quality work and that they are developing the required skills and knowledge as they progress through their seats.

Perks: Benefits include private medical care, PHI and life assurance, pension, season ticket loan, cycle to work, 25 days’ holiday, dress down Fridays and a subsidised restaurant in the London offices.

Sponsorship details: We undertake to pay impending GDL and/or LPC course fees together with a maintenance grant.