Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Fieldfisher LLP

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘The small-office feel in Birmingham combined with the scope and quality of work offered by a large European law firm’, ‘relaxed, friendly feel’, ‘I really enjoyed the vac scheme and thought the firm would provide an interesting and engaging training experience’, ‘it has increased its presence in all areas of Europe and China’, ‘I joined the Manchester office as a paralegal and had no desire to leave!’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The people’, ‘the London office generally’, ‘the social events’, ‘the sociability and people in the Manchester office’, ‘nice culture’, ‘the client catering’, ‘the people are really nice and you can approach anyone in other departments to help you’, ‘progressive, forward-thinking approach (by City standards)’, ‘the quality of work is fantastic’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The IT system’, ‘client secondments are not as well advertised to Birmingham trainees’, ‘lack of transparency around seat selection and qualification’, ‘the London canteen’, ‘some of the work given to trainees is of low quality’, ‘limited international secondment offering’, ‘top-heavy structure of the firm where most partners are male and most senior associates are women’

Best moment? ‘The Christmas party when all of the partners were partaking in a limbo party on a boat’, ‘being told I was going on secondment to our US office’, ‘receiving good feedback on a few complex letters I had drafted from scratch’, ‘attending a rather fiery summary judgment hearing at court’, ‘taking notes, observing and assisting in document production relating to a negotiation on a transaction’

Worst moment? ‘Bundling alone late into the night for an adjudication’, ‘making my first mistake that was noticed by a client’, ‘being unfairly shouted at by a superior’, ‘accidentally messing up a court bundle and having to remedy it’, ‘spending ten hours bundling’, ‘being instructed by a partner from another team who had unrealistic expectations of my knowledge of a subject’

The Lex 100 verdict on Fieldfisher LLP

The firm: “Fieldfisher is a European law firm with more than 1,550 people working across 25 offices, with market leading practices in many of the world’s most dynamic sectors. We are an exciting, forward-thinking organisation with a particular focus on finance & financial services, energy & natural resources, real estate, life sciences and technology.”

The deals: Acted for Opencell on its sale to a private equity fund; acted for Marlowe PLC on its £11m acquisition of Clearwater plc; acted for specialised regulators such as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority advising on the new mitochondrial donation regulation and on other matters; leading advisor to Trilliant Networks UK on a diverse range of matters; advised eBay on a number of key adtech contracts; acted for British Cycling in the recent Jess Varnish case.

The clients: Accenture; Airbnb; BBC; Capita Asset Services; Citi Bank; Deutsche Bank; Foreign & Commonwealth Office; Fusion Capital; J P Morgan; Silicon Valley Bank.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Administrative and public law; Charities and not-for-profit; Clinical negligence: claimant; Commercial contracts; Commercial property: corporate occupiers; Court of protection; Data protection, privacy and cybersecurity; Emerging markets; Employee share scheme; Employment; Flotations: small and mid-cap; Healthcare; IT and telecoms; Pensions (non-contentious); Personal injury: claimant; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology; Professional negligence; Property finance; Property litigation; Travel: regulatory and commercial.

The verdict

An ‘ambitious, growing firm’ with a ‘fantastic client base and sector expertise’, Fieldfisher ‘definitely lives up to the marketing hype’. The European firm offers training contracts in Birmingham, Manchester and London and recruits appreciate the opportunity to carry out ‘work of an incredible quality’ wherever they train. A number of respondents lauded the vacation scheme, where they met ‘friendly and approachable people’ and felt ‘welcomed and included’ by their respective departments. In fact, the people at Fieldfisher ‘are a pleasure to work with’. Moreover, there is a ‘good range of seats’ and the working hours are ‘generally manageable’. Recruits commended the training sessions, which are ‘excellent and well presented’, and were appeased that ‘most departments really do want to invest in the development of trainees and not just give them photocopying’. Trainees would like to see ‘more international and client secondment opportunities’ offered across all offices. On a lighter note, ‘the views from the ninth-floor balcony’ of the London office are not to be missed! Best moments included ‘issuing the first civil case in the UK against Harvey Weinstein’, ‘writing witness statements from scratch for an employment tribunal case’ and ‘spending six months on secondment in Silicon Valley’. Less enjoyable were ‘the tension leading up to a deadline’, ‘being allocated seats which were not on my list of choices’ and ‘a lack of supervision on a particular matter which made me feel unsupported’, although it was recognised that ‘this is by no means the norm’. To work at a ‘dynamic, exciting firm’ which offers ‘autonomy and choice’, research Fieldfisher.

A day in the life of… Paul Maalo, trainee, Fieldfisher

Paul Maalo, Fieldfisher LLP

Departments to date: Regulatory; IP and technology, protection and enforcement

University: Queen Mary University of London

Degree: Law

8.00am: I jump on the train to London Bridge and enjoy the scenic walk across the bridge to the office!

8.45am: Breakfast time in the canteen. I meet the reading scheme committee for a morning meeting. A group of trainees co-ordinate the firm’s reading scheme initiative, where every Tuesday Fieldfisher employees attend a local primary school to read with children.

9.15am: We sit in an open plan layout, which means it’s easy to talk to everyone in the team. I log on, check my emails and calendar, and create a to-do list for the day. As a trainee, you are involved in many work projects with several different people so it’s important to prioritise your work based on deadlines.

9.30am: I spend some time finalising a draft of a settlement agreement to resolve a trademark dispute between our client and another party, in which I have to articulate a mutual non-challenge clause and the agreed payment mechanism.

10.00am: I meet with my supervisor to review the agreement. She sets me a research task based on a point of law significant to the facts of the case.

10.30am: I review a draft letter sent to me by a student relating to a pro bono case from the Queen Mary Legal Advice Clinic. All trainees participate in this scheme and take on two cases each year. It is a valuable experience as you get to run your own case.

11.00am: I draft a ‘cease and desist’ letter for a client who has noticed that their trade mark is being infringed on various websites and social media platforms. A great feature of my current department is that you get exposure to work relating to a range of IP rights. I have worked on a large copyright infringement case, conducted patent life sciences research relating to cell and gene therapies and drafted a witness statement in support of a supplementary protection certificate extension to a patent right.

12.30pm: Lunch time. Depending on workload, the trainees usually meet up every day in the downstairs canteen to eat together and catch up.

1.30pm: I am asked to attend and take a note of a conference call involving Fieldfisher, the client and counsel. Prior to the call, I review previous correspondence on this project and share a summary of this with the solicitors to prepare them for the call. After the call, I share my note and highlight emerging action points for particular attendees to progress.

3.00pm: I conduct research to help an associate prepare for attending a food and drink trade fair at which there could be potential new clients.

4.00pm: I have a meeting with the trainee social committee in order to organise the upcoming trainee summer party. As a member of the committee, I contribute ideas towards and help plan social events held for current and future trainees.

4.30pm: I prepare presentation slides regarding EU database rights, for which I conduct interesting legal and commercially focused research. These slides are an important contribution towards a training session for a new client, which will be delivered by London IP partners at one of the client’s US offices.

6.00pm: I finalise my time recording and ensure everything on my to-do list has been addressed. I meet the other members of our firm’s mixed touch rugby team in the downstairs reception and we head to Regents Park for this week’s rugby match.

About the firm

Senior partner: David Wilkinson

Managing partner: Michael Chissick

Other offices: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Beijing, Belfast, Birmingham, Bologna, Brussels, Dublin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Guangzhou, Hamburg, London, Luxembourg, Madrid, Manchester, Milan, Munich, Paris, Rome, Shanghai, Silicon Valley, Turin, Venice.

Who we are: Fieldfisher is a European law firm with market-leading practices in many of the world’s most dynamic sectors.

What we do: We are an exciting, forward-thinking organisation with a particular focus on technology, finance and financial services, energy and natural resources, life sciences and media.

What we’re looking for: We are looking for ambitious, bright, innovative, talented and entrepreneurial individuals.

What you’ll do: The trainee will be supervised by a senior associate or partner with a huge amount of legal experience. A learning and development programme is also in place for the whole intake.

Perks: Flexible benefits (life assurance, travel insurance, income protection, critical illness cover, dental cover); cycle to work scheme; interest-free season ticket loan; pension scheme – matched contributions up to 7%; medical insurance; yoga and HIIT sessions on the top floor.

Sponsorship: GDL and LPC tuitions fees and maintenance grant.