Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Coffin Mew LLP

The Lex 100 verdict on Coffin Mew LLP

The firm: Coffin Mew is one of the largest law firms in the central South and has operated in the region for more than 125 years. With offices across Hampshire, Sussex, London and the Thames Valley and employing more than 200 staff, Coffin Mew has expertise in business services, real estate, technology and private client.

The clients: Brighton West Pier Trust; Cluttons; E-Crunch; Fatface; James Hay Partnership; Just Develop It; MWR Infosecurity; Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare; Tokyo Electron; World of Books.

The deals: Assisted the shareholders of DV02 with their sale of the entire issued share capital of the company to Daisy Group; assisted Hughes Ellard with its merger with Vail Williams LLP; acting for Phillip Eaglesham in a claim against the Ministry of Defence regarding the client’s Q Fever acquired while serving in Afghanistan; assisting the owners of the iconic Victorian Brighton West Pier structure with the £46m Brighton i360 project, designed by the team behind the London Eye; acted for Beanstalk in its licensing negotiations with Sky as a distributor and reseller of the Gamban solution.

The verdict

Coffin Mew ‘strives to be a workplace for the future’. A ‘big focus on tech, flexible working and a “dress for your client” policy’ is proof. Many praised the assessment centre, which was described as ‘well run’ and some trainees particularly enjoyed being ‘called the same day by the managing partner to offer me a training contract’ which made them ‘feel valued from the outset’. There is ‘client contact on offer from an early stage’, as well as ‘excellent access to quality work’ which sees trainees ‘heavily involved in files and transactions’. The firm is a Lex 100 Winner in the former category. Several recruits even mentioned running their own files. Simultaneously, the ‘happy work/life balance cannot be faulted’: there is usually ‘no pressure to work late’. Negatives about the firm are the ‘travel between offices’ which is expected of trainees, the ‘communication around seat rotations’ and the case management system, which ‘desperately needs an update’, although ‘this is being worked on throughout 2019’. However, the ‘approachability of most supervisors and heads of teams’ is unrivalled and recruits appreciated ‘never being far away from someone to listen to your concerns, answer a question or have a coffee with’. Best moments included ‘running a client meeting by myself’ and ‘attending a conference call with four medical experts, my supervising partner and counsel on an incredibly complex birth injury case’. Conversely there were a few reports of ‘doing admin work for prolonged periods of time’ and ‘undertaking secretarial work’, which were far less exciting. If you want to work for ‘one of the biggest firms in the south east and Thames Valley region’ with ‘expertise across many different practice areas’, take a closer look at Coffin Mew.

A day in the life of… Emma Jones, trainee, Coffin Mew LLP

Emma Jones, Coffin Mew LLP

Departments to date: Court of Protection, Developers New Homes and Family

University: University of Surrey University of Law, Guildford

Degree: Law with International Relations QLD LLB 2(1); LPC

8.30am: I arrive on the office campus early to justify grabbing a Starbucks on my way up to my desk. Of course I’ll be using my Coffin Mew reusable cup and saving 25p, so how could I not! I usually start my day slightly earlier to give me time to go through any urgent emails, formulate a to-do list and get an idea of what my day (or even week) will look like.

9.00am: My family supervisor asks me to draft a ‘without prejudice’ offer letter for a client whose marriage has unfortunately irrevocably broken down. Having met with the client earlier in the week and taken on board her wishes for an amicable separation, I consider what might be a fair settlement and how we can potentially negotiate any financial issues with the other party’s solicitors without the involvement of the court. I email across my draft letter to my supervisor for us to look over later in the afternoon.

10.45am: Yesterday I met a client and counsel at court for a financial dispute resolution hearing. This was my first real exposure to a courtroom environment (outside the scope of mock trials at university) which was all very exciting. However, I had to remain sensitive to the fact that our client would probably be more nervous than me and that the outcome of the hearing would have an impact on their life. The negotiations on the matter lasted the better half of an afternoon before reaching a settlement approved by the District Judge. I had been jotting down every offer and comment made between the parties and there was now a long attendance note to be typed up. I write this up for the file and share a few thoughts with my supervisor.

12.00pm: It’s a sunny day and I plan on doubling my step-count by taking a power walk around the gorgeous office lake. I catch up with a few trainees from the other teams who have been equally busy, but we find time to plan our next social event – an escape room!

1.00pm: I return to my desk and grab my notebook as I’m asked to attend a client meeting with my supervisor. We’re meeting a client on a fixed-fee basis in relation to his decision to issue divorce proceedings. The purpose of this meeting is to gather as much information as possible to decide what the next best steps are. Having advised on all available options, the client instructs us to get the ball rolling.

2.15pm: I type up a quick attendance note and draft the initial advice letter to the client. It turns out that this could be a complex matter with multiple properties, business assets, MoD pensions and a potential large inheritance to consider!  I do a bit of additional research on pension sharing orders before passing back to my supervisor to check.

3.00pm: A family solicitor based in another office emails me with an urgent request. I’m asked to look at the conduct of conveyancing on divorce. We have a client whose wife has requested a say in the sale process, but our client is the sole owner of the property. I have a look at case law considering similar scenarios before getting a bit of practical advice from a team member in the conveyancing department. I send a memorandum back to the solicitor detailing my findings, which were then used as submissions in court!

4.15pm: I have a catch-up with my supervisor, discussing the draft documents I sent across earlier in the day. While a few amendments are needed, I take on board the feedback.

4.50pm: I take a couple of minutes to ensure that my time-recording is up to date and that my desk is tidy ready to start all over again tomorrow.

5.15pm: I grab my jacket and meet the other trainees by reception. We’re heading to a Junior Lawyers Division cocktail-making event!

About the firm

CEO: Miles Brown 

Other offices: Brighton, Gosport, Newbury, London, Southampton and Wantage.

Who we are: Coffin Mew is a large, innovative and responsive firm with a strong reputation built on its ability to deliver exceptional client service. The firm has ambitious growth plans, a restless desire for continuous improvement, as a well as a reputation for building a sustainably profitable firm.

What we do: The firm provides legal services to individual clients, entrepreneurs, SMEs and corporate organisations across a wide range of service areas, with 50% of its business being services to individuals and 50% services to businesses. Coffin Mew is proudly accredited by Lexcel, the Law Society’s Quality Practice kite mark, and is highly regarded by The Legal 500 and other legal directories.

What we’re looking for: We are looking for commercial, entrepreneurial and personable individuals, with the grit and determination to succeed in a modern professional service firm. We place a great emphasis on individuality, diversity and equality.

What you’ll do: Our award-winning training programme will challenge your thinking, develop your commercial awareness and hone your leadership skills, while providing you with excellent legal training, coaching and mentoring, with significant client contact and responsibility as well as a voice in the firm, from day one.

Perks: Generous holiday plus extra day for your birthday, with additional buy/sell option; a relaxed dress drown/dress for your clients philosophy; agile/flexible working options; free parking; private medical insurance with subsidised Apple Watch and gym membership scheme and health assessments; permanent health insurance; death in service cover; above statutory contributory pension scheme; optical care contributions; and optical care contributions.