Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Irwin Mitchell

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Irwin Mitchell

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘They were friendly, welcoming and impressed me with their expansion plans for the future’; ‘I liked the firm’s values’; ‘the type of work’; ‘strong presence in South East’; ‘IM was approachable and offered training in the areas I was most interested in’; ‘fantastic reputation’; ‘strong national presence’; ‘size’; ‘IM offered a different training model’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The people’; ‘client contact’; ‘the firm cares about its employees on a personal level’; ‘work hard/play hard mentality’; ‘social environment’; ‘everyone is so approachable and no question is a silly question’; ‘the effort made to promote diversity and inclusion’; ‘everyone genuinely cares about the clients’; ‘you feel valued from day one’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Pay, the ambiguity of the bonus scheme and benefits’; ‘the difference in levels of training and support vary between teams’; ‘lack of social events’; ‘in PLS three out of four seats are in personal injury’; ‘PLS and BLS pay gap upon qualification’; ‘uncertainty as to how many seats will be available in each department’

Best moment? ‘Getting to run my own files’; ‘being offered a NQ role in the department I wanted to work for’; ‘receiving praise from a QC on my work and commitment to a case’; ‘attending client meetings and being able to support clients in difficult times’; ‘successfully performing my own advocacy in relation to a tricky application before the judge’

Worst moment? ‘Spending hours drafting documents for a new matter only for it to fall through’; ‘I had to interview head-to-head against a fellow trainee for the NQ role I wanted’; ‘corporate completions’; ‘feeling overwhelmed at the beginning’; ‘having to answer to a senior partner after failing to manage my workload and trying to take too much on’

The Lex 100 verdict on Irwin Mitchell

The firm: Irwin Mitchell is one of a few large law firms to provide a diverse range of legal services to both businesses and private individuals. The firm is divided into two divisions: personal legal services and business legal services and has particular strength in litigation.

The deals: Advised and negotiated for the British divers, who completed the rescue of 12 boys from a cave in Thailand, to turn their story into a feature documentary film; assisting script writers at Coronation Street on their next high profile legal storyline; currently representing the British families killed and injured in the Tunisian terror attack in Sousse in 2015; providing ongoing commercial contracts and IP advice for Sweaty Betty and Birkenstock; representing Beth Tweddle following her spinal injury on The Jump TV show.

The clients: Destiny Pharma plc.; Hallam Land Management; Henry Boot; HSBC; Investec; Lloyds Banking Group; National Grid; RBS/Natwest; Saga; Welbeck Land.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see for more details) Administrative and public law; Agriculture and estates; Asset based lending; Civil liberties and human rights; Clinical negligence: claimant; Commercial property: development; Contentious trusts and probate; Corporate and commercial; Crime: general; Debt recovery; Employment; Family; Financial services (contentious); Insolvency and corporate recovery; IT and telecoms; Media and entertainment; Personal injury: claimant; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Transport; Travel: personal injury.

The verdict

Unlike many other firms, national firm Irwin Mitchell offers two alternative training contract streams: Personal and Business Legal Services. This allows applicants to practise in areas of the law they enjoy most, proving that ‘the firm really cares about its employees as well as its clients’. The firm’s ‘hours, work/life balance, size, and approachability’ are but a few reasons aspiring solicitors applied to Irwin Mitchell. The firm’s dedication to social responsibility is reflected in best moments like ‘achieving settlement for a child’ and being involved in a claim that improved the client’s quality of life. Many respondents also enjoyed ‘being heavily involved in high-value cases’ with a ‘high level of responsibility’. Client contact and ‘exposure to high-profile litigation work’ is on offer too. Attending client meetings and mediations were popular best moments, whereas ‘the NQ process’ and ‘not being able to do the seat applied for’ were common gripes. The ‘unreliability of IT systems’ was also a concern, and many agreed ‘the pay could be better’, however this is ‘massively outweighed by other factors’. ‘A good work/life balance’, the firm’s ‘genuine passion for its clients’, and friendly atmosphere’ appeased trainees. There are ‘many opportunities to get involved in extra-curricular initiatives, such as charitable work and learning development’ and this is actively encouraged from day one. If you want to work for a firm with a community feel, the freedom to express ideas and ‘London-quality work whilst generally getting to leave on time’, then consider applying to Irwin Mitchell.

A day in the life of… Olivia Oxton, fourth-seat trainee, Irwin Mitchell LLP

Olivia Oxton, Irwin Mitchell

Departments to date: Serious injury, regulatory and criminal investigations, IP and media, corporate

University: Durham University

Degree: Law 2(1)

8.45am: I begin my day by having a coffee while reading through my emails, and adding to or re-ordering my to-do list as necessary. I generally try and decide what tasks I will aim to complete each day, but know that this may change depending on what comes in.

9.00am: My first task is to amend some articles of association and a shareholders’ agreement I drafted for a new company which we have recently incorporated. This follows a call I had with the client a week ago and a discussion with my supervisor. I then draft an explanatory email to the client summarising the changes. My supervisor reviews the documents and the email and I send them all to the client. As a corporate trainee you get plenty of drafting experience which is a very useful skill for whatever department you are in.

10.45am: I then take a break while we have our office news meeting (with chocolate and biscuits!) in the office café. These are on a bimonthly rotation and alternate between morning biscuits and evening drinks.

11.00am: Next, in my capacity as co-chair of the office charity committee I send some emails in relation to coordinating volunteers at our office. We host various events to raise money for our charity over the year and upcoming events include a London to Paris bike ride, an escape room and a national quiz.

11.30am: I then get back to client work and my next task is to prepare a documents list for a new matter I am going to be working on with one of the partners in the team. The matter involves a complex step plan so this task involves considering each step, the legal requirements to affect it, and subsequently the legal documentation that will be needed. I take my lunch break outside in the local park with one of the other trainees then come back and finish the documents list before sending it on to the partner.

3.00pm: At 3pm I have a call with a lawyer in Germany in relation to a cross-border restructuring deal I have been working on with a different partner in the team. Following the call I update the partner on what has been said and the follow up points.

3.30pm: Next, I draft a letter to HMRC in relation to a deal one of the junior solicitors in the team had completed a few days earlier for one of our most active clients.

4.00pm: Finally, I prepare a documents pack ahead of a completion meeting tomorrow morning. I contact the client to ensure he knows the timing and venue of the meeting.

5.45pm: I spend my last few minutes in the office updating my to-do list and recording my time for the day before heading home.

About the firm

Group chief executive: Andrew Tucker

Other offices: Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Chichester, Gatwick, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough (consulting office), Newbury, Newcastle, Sheffield, Southampton.

Who we are: Irwin Mitchell is a national law firm that provides excellent client service to businesses and individuals alike.

What we do: We work closely with our clients to offer an expert hand with a human touch.

What we’re looking for: Trainees need to be passionate about the firm, client focused, display emotional intelligence, and possess strong analytical skills.

What you’ll do: You’ll cover four seats (six months each) and work with a variety of fee-earners across the teams. You’ll be guided by supportive supervisors who will ensure you are involved with all aspects of fee-earning work.

Perks: 25 days’ holiday, health plan, recognition scheme, two CSR days a year, sports team sponsorship, season ticket loan, contributory pension scheme, death in service cover, critical illness cover.

Sponsorship: If your application is successful, we will meet all the fees associated with your LPC and, if applicable, your GDL if you have not started or completed your studies when offered a training contract. We also provide a maintenance grant to help you through your studies.