Survey Results - Trainee feedback on CMS

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on CMS

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Welcoming and innovative culture’, ‘they have a vast amount of diversity and inclusion networks’, ‘Bristol location’, ‘the firm was in a period of growth’, ‘inclusive work environment’, ‘reputation in the market’, ‘opportunity to work outside London but still on City and international matters’, ‘I wanted to work for a full-service law firm’, ‘sector specialisations’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Down-to-earth culture’, ‘wide range of practice areas’, ‘the firm cares about its people’, ‘good training and supportive culture amongst the staff’, ‘friendliness of colleagues’, ‘the people and the culture’, ‘the quality of the work overall’, ‘everyone is friendly and welcoming, including partners’, ‘people are experts in their fields and still have time to get you involved and discuss it with you’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘NQ remuneration’, ‘unpredictable hours and some communication problems across the firm’, ‘occasional IT issues’, ‘the work/life balance’, ‘trainee retention and job availability in popular departments’, ‘it is an open-plan office so it depends on whether you are easily distracted!’, ‘it’s so big that it can be tricky to meet everyone’

Best moment? ‘Liaising directly with important clients’, ‘receiving very positive feedback from various members of the team in my first seat’, ‘spending six months on client secondment’, ‘the induction was fantastic’, ‘doing my first completion in the real estate team’, ‘presenting knowledge updates to the team’, ‘the feeling of achievement after drafting an agreement from scratch, having had no idea how to do it initially’

Worst moment? ‘Making embarrassing errors in work’, ‘having too many work streams come to my desk at the same time’, ‘being unable to meet my intake due to the pandemic’, ‘document reviews’, ‘working weekends’, ‘being stuck on a terrible secondment’, ‘repetitive tasks’, ‘making a mistake with a date which we had to explain to the court’

The Lex 100 verdict on CMS

‘Future-focused’ and with a ‘reputation for innovation’, choosing CMS was a no-brainer for this year’s survey respondents. The international firm offers training contracts across England and Scotland and boasts an incredibly wide variety of practice areas. ‘High-profile international matters’ and ‘market-leading clients’ are the norm at CMS but the environment remains ‘welcoming’ and ‘down-to earth’ and ‘employees are treated well’. There is a ‘strong focus on training’ and ‘team members, including partners, are willing to get trainees involved in matters and offer feedback on your performance’. It follows that CMS has amassed eight Lex 100 Winner awards this year, with inclusiveness, confidence of being kept on and international secondments among the haul. Somewhat unusually for a law firm, the ‘excellent tech and internal processes’ are described as a ‘shining light’ of CMS. This is greatly appreciated by trainees, as it ‘allows us to focus on the important areas of our workload’. One downside of working at CMS is that ‘it is so big that it can be tricky to meet everyone’. Some trainees also consider the NQ salary to be on the low side, particularly in offices outside of London, and especially considering the firm’s market position. Trainees loved ‘spending six months on client secondment’, ‘my first seat in medical negligence where I was trusted to go to the Royal Courts of Justice for a week-long trial as the sole representative for CMS’ and ‘liaising directly with important clients’. In contrast, recruits did not enjoy ‘having to resend documents which were sent out incorrectly the first time’ nor ‘working from 6.30am until 10pm on a Sunday’. For an international firm where everyone is ‘friendly, approachable and supportive’, consider CMS.

The firm: CMS is a future facing firm. Whether stakeholders are big or small, they always have the firm’s full attention and expertise. In a world of ever-accelerating change where technology is increasingly important, our clear, business-focused advice helps clients of every size to face the future with confidence.

CMS is a full-service law firm combining top-quality sector expertise with international scale. We embrace technology and are committed to new ideas that challenge conventional ways of doing things.

CMS puts the interests of clients at the heart of everything we do across 70+ offices in 40+ countries in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America. With more than 1,100+ partners and 5,000+ lawyers, CMS works in cross-border teams to deliver top-quality, practical advice. The firm is recognised for its sector excellence and focus on consumer products; energy; financial institutions; hotels and leisure; infrastructure and projects; life sciences and healthcare; real estate; and technology, media and telecommunications.

When it comes to what we’re looking for, keen intellect is vital, but we are looking for much more than academic qualifications. Whether applicants are law students, non-law students or career changers, there are several qualities we look for in our future employees. These include personal effectiveness, professional communication, drive for achievement, having a future-facing outlook, leading self and others, ability to build relationships and commercial awareness.

The main route to a training contract at CMS is by successfully completing the CMS Academy programme. Our two-year training contracts feature four six-month seats or national, international or client secondments. CMS also offers early insight to the firm through our First Steps programme, apprenticeships, widening participation work experience and scholarship opportunities, and the newly launched Business Development & Marketing Graduate Programme.

The clients: See our website: https://cms.law/en/gbr/global-reach/europe/united-kingdom.

The deals: Advised Retail Ecommerce Ventures on Ralph & Russo acquisition; advised Fuse Venture Partners on investment; advised Urban&Civic on £506m offer from the Wellcome Trust; advised OMERS Ventures on $22m Series A investment in Lick Home; advised AXA Investment Managers – Real Assets on £650m sale of Ropemaker Place in the City of London; advised Hard Rock International on its plans for inaugural Hard Rock Hotel London; appointed to The Crown Estate’s £2.5bn Regional Retail Portfolio.

A day in the life of... Ambreen Rasool, trainee, CMS

Ambreen Rasool, CMS

Departments to date: Tech and media

University: University of Glasgow

Degree: Law with French Language

I am currently sitting in the tech and media team in London. A typical day involves drafting, negotiating and lots of telephone calls. The work that the team does is really varied, spanning data protection, advertising law, technology and outsourcing, and work for the film and TV industry. For example, I am currently assisting with the negotiation of an option agreement to turn a client’s artwork into a cartoon. I am also a member of the Women’s Project, which forms part of the Trainee D&I Committee. We are working on a number of exciting initiatives to support females wishing to enter the legal profession and those already in the workplace. While working from home, the team has stayed connected through regular catch-up meetings, virtual drinks and quizzes.

About the firm

Senior partner: Penelope Warne

Managing partner: Stephen Millar

Other offices: Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Reading, Sheffield, Bristol.

Who we are: CMS is a future facing firm. With more than 70 offices in 40+ countries and 4,800+ lawyers worldwide, we combine deep local market understanding with a global overview, giving us the ability see what’s coming and to shape it. In a world of ever-accelerating change where technology is increasingly important in the deployment of global strategies, our clear, business-focused advice helps clients of every size to face the future with confidence.

What we do: We’re immersed in your world. Your interests and priorities are at the heart of what we do. Our lawyers are genuine experts in their fields, with a grasp of detail that’s second to none. Our next-generation mindset is woven into all we do. It means we can anticipate the likely challenges, accelerate our pace and create the space to develop innovative solutions. We’re diverse, supportive and inclusive, embracing our corporate social responsibility and creating a culture in which every one of our people can maximise their potential and thrive.

What we’re looking for: When it comes to what they’re looking for, keen intellect is vital, but CMS are looking for much more than academic qualifications. Whether applicants are law students, non-law students or career changers, the skills required include personal effectiveness, professional communication, drive for achievement and having a future facing outlook.

What you’ll do: The main route to a training contract at CMS is by successfully completing the CMS Academy programme. Our two-year training contracts feature four six-month seats or national, international or client secondments. CMS also offers early insight to the firm through our First Steps programme, apprenticeships, widening participation work experience and scholarship opportunities, and the newly launched Business Development & Marketing Graduate Programme.

Perks: 25 days’ flexible holiday allowance; pension scheme; interest-free season ticket loan; eye tests and dental insurance; private medical insurance; corporate gym membership and subsidy; cycle to work scheme; membership fees to professional organisations; study assistance; employee referral scheme.

Sponsorship: Sponsorship may be available for your GDL and LPC/SQE for England, Wales and Northern Ireland qualifying trainees and the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice in Scotland.

Diversity and inclusion