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 other? ‘Friendliness, work/life balance and departments on offer’; ‘it is a firm which has a good emphasis on culture and work/life balance, whilst still being big enough to attract interesting work’; ‘it was well ranked and takes on interesting work but still appeared to be a relaxed and friendly firm’; ‘excellent Private Client (especially Family) division’; ‘mid-size firm with good reputation’.

Best thing about the firm? ‘The culture – inclusive, no face-time, approachable people, you feel valued’; ‘the clients and the responsibility from early on’; ‘the clients across all departments are second to none’; ‘being given vast responsibility early on with such interesting work and clients ensures motivation and job satisfaction’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The lack of secondments abroad’; ‘remuneration at NQ level’; ‘the limited numbers of seats available in each department can make it particularly challenging to ensure you experience your desired departments’ ‘some teams are fairly conservative. It’s difficult to speak generally about the firm, because the departments and divisions are not homogenous in culture’

Best moment? ‘Some of the CSR initiatives we are involved with and the trainee camaraderie’; ‘working on a transaction that was receiving coverage in the national news and hearing the press release get read out on the radio just moments after completion’; ‘assisting with some interesting sports law arbitrations’

Worst moment? ‘Staying until 1am to cross-reference witness statements’; ‘not securing the desired seats for the second rotation was quite tough, especially in light of the requirement to undertake at least one litigious seat’; ‘finalising a witness statement to be filed on Christmas Eve’


The Lex 100 verdict on Charles Russell Speechlys

Charles Russell Speechlys is highly regarded for its ‘very strong private client offering, strengthened by a corporate tax element’, and the firm also boasts a market-leading sports law practice. As trainees highlight, this work, ‘particularly in the sports regulatory field – stood out to me, along with the firm’s the intellectual property work’. The firm also stands out for its popularity with current trainees: ‘CRS provided the best overall experience from quality of work, quality of clients, learning environment to work/life balance. It’s an incredibly unique place to work due to the scope of work on offer’. With City and regional offices in Cheltenham and Guildford, as well as international offices in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, the firm may be mid-sized in terms of headcount, but certainly not in its scope and the diversity of client base. In terms of training, respondents comment that in comparison to other firms, ‘the workload here seems to be much more manageable for most, and client contact is quite strong in many seats’. Trainees also commented that the firm’s ‘atmosphere also seems to be friendlier, with supervisors typically very approachable and understanding’. Trainees applaud the level of ‘responsibility from early on’ and say that the ‘clients across all departments are second to none’. In addition, being given ‘vast responsibility early on with such interesting work and clients ensures motivation and job satisfaction’. Negatives identified are the ‘conservative’ characteristics of certain departments, ‘transparency’ over seat allocation and the rarity of international secondments. But if you are interested in international private client work and sports law plus a personalised training contract, Charles Russell Speechlys is a strong contender.

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: Simon Ridpath

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

Diversity statement

Charles Russell Speechlys is an equal opportunities employer and is committed to ensuring that our culture, our training and our policies all facilitate and enhance the development and promotion of equal opportunities. These policies and practices apply to external recruitment, internal appointments, terms of employment and conditions of service and opportunities for training and promotion. Our aim? To foster an inclusive, welcoming environment for all and to recognise and celebrate differences. The firm is committed to ensuring that equal opportunities are available to all and that nobody suffers discrimination regardless of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, age, religion or belief, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy, maternity status, disability or socio-economic background.