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 other? ‘Regional, full-service firm, plus good work/life balance’; ‘I liked the environment and ethos of the firm’; ‘I was drawn to Irwin Mitchell due to its strong focus on and reputation for claimant work and personal legal services. I knew that this was where I wanted to focus my career, and I felt that my values truly aligned with the firm’s values’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Very friendly and approachable colleagues’; ‘genuine team effort to get the work done’; ‘the people here are brilliant’; ‘the firm is for the most part excellent at creating a culture which spans all 15 offices’; ‘relaxed atmosphere and the new office premises’; ‘all supervisors are very approachable we have an agile office space with flexi-working’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The remuneration is not as good, especially in regional areas, and some of the seats are so oversubscribed that there is a risk of not getting as much experience in different areas of law’; ‘a perception of the firm as being only a personal injury firm when this isn’t necessarily the case anymore’

Best moment? ‘Seeing cases settle for clients who you have built a relationship with’; ‘getting a very time-pressured deal over the line for a major client’; ‘attending the Supreme Court to have one of the judgments handed-down by Lady Hale’; ‘taking three meetings alone with a client and being able to form completely my own relationship and rapport’

Worst moment? ‘It can sometimes get so busy such that supervisors are too busy to supervise, although they are still approachable and dedicated – just too busy!’; ‘sometimes the work load/hours’; ‘being left to do a new task with a strict deadline with no one to ask for guidance’; ‘juggling moving teams and dealing with new people and expectations – it can be overwhelming sometimes’

The Lex 100 verdict on Irwin Mitchell

The firm: Irwin Mitchell are legal experts with a difference. As well as offering a full range of legal services to individuals and businesses, they also support people with their finances, wealth and asset management. They focus on what really matters, their clients, colleagues and communities.

The deals: Acting for Rio Olympic medallist Amy Tinkler in her dispute with British Gymnastics; helping video game companies to navigate the coronavirus crisis by providing free legal advice to members of Ukie; acting for HBD (formerly Henry Boot Developments) Nightingale Hospital on the acquisition of a manufacturing unit in Sunderland – owing to Covid-19, the unit was selected to be a Nightingale hospital and the firm has been advising on this and the opening of new link road that was under construction and is required to be opened to enable 24/7 access to the unit; acted for the State Bank of India in the financing arrangements for Haldia Petrochemicals Limited in the $2.725bn acquisition of Lummus Technology; advised Newson Health Research & Education on a publishing deal with FourteenFish, the specialist learning and CPD platform for doctors.

The clients: Destiny Pharma plc; Henry Boot; HSBC; Investec; Lloyds Banking Group; Mazars; RBS/Natwest; Saga; Welbeck Land

The verdict

‘One of the biggest full-service law firms in the UK,’ ‘its impressive credentials’ and ‘the vast number of personal legal services opportunities, in particular public law’ are just some of the qualities that drew trainees to Irwin Mitchell. With 15 offices, Irwin Mitchell is widely distributed across the UK. One current trainee was attracted to Irwin Mitchell ‘due to its strong focus on and reputation for claimant work and personal legal services. I knew that this was where I wanted to focus my career, and I felt that my values truly aligned with those of the firm’. The ‘focus on client service and sense of community’ was a common theme, as well as the ability for trainees to choose between a personal law or business law work stream within their training contract. One trainee ‘chose this firm because I wanted to join a large firm while still being able to practise law working with individuals rather than corporate entities’. Respondents highlight that there can be a difference in the style and ‘quality’ of training in difference departments. There are also complaints about the pay and benefits being below some rivals. Yet the feedback is mixed; some trainees approve of the work/life balance and the quality of the supervision offered. As one trainee comments, ‘the quality of the work is fantastic with exposure to exciting cases, some of which are at the forefront of legal developments’. If you are looking for a top-tier firm within your local area, odds are that Irwin Mitchell is there; with its reputation for both personal and business services, it’s a strong candidate.

A day in the life of… Laura Robinson, trainee, Irwin Mitchell

Laura Robinson, Irwin Mitchell

Departments to date: Serious injury, medical negligence, wills trusts and estate disputes

University: The University of Sheffield

Degree: Law (1st class)

8.55am: I start my day by chatting to my colleagues, and then have my morning coffee while checking through emails. I always prepare a to-do list for the next week on a Friday, so I review that and decide what tasks need to be done each day.

9.15am: I begin by drafting a letter of instruction to an expert to prepare a report on the legal test of breach of duty. I include a background of the case, a chronology of the relevant medical records along with the technical questions that we need the expert to answer in their report. I then send this to my supervisor to review.

11.00am: I attend an initial client meeting with an associate. I sit in the meeting to take a note of the advice given and to record any important information that the client provides. We run through the process of a claim and the legal tests that we need to prove. As a trainee in medical negligence, you get a lot of client contact time.

12.00pm: I take my lunch break and meet the other trainees in the office in the canteen. We catch up on how work is going and share hints and tips with each other. We’re all very close and my best friend even works as a trainee in serious injury.

12.30pm: I attend an IM Equal meeting, which is Irwin Mitchell’s LGBTQI+ diversity group. As a proud member of the LGBT community, I discuss the firms’ diversity plans including their representation at Pride (which we attend every year). I am also an Aspiring Solicitors’ Ambassador and answer any questions that people from underrepresented backgrounds might have about applying to the firm or about a legal career in general.

1.00pm: I attend a meeting to discuss a charity event that I am helping to organise for a school for children who suffer with neurological injuries. I am working alongside a solicitor to create some wellbeing packages to sell to raise money for the school.

1.30pm: As a trainee, I am on the new enquiries rota and I am responsible for contacting any new enquiries that come through today. I read through the brief information that was provided by the legal helpline and prepare questions for the call. I speak to the caller and discuss a delay in diagnosis of cancer that could potentially have been avoided. The person on the phone cries during the call and I have to console her while remaining professional. This is a really important skill to develop as you often deal with upsetting cases. I then explain the legal tests that we have to prove in order to be successful in a clinical negligence case and also provide information about the limitation period. One of the main things that I love about my job is feeling as though you are actually making a difference to someone’s life. I write up the details of the call and send the information to the senior associate to review.

2.30pm: I attend a telephone conference with counsel, experts, the client and the case handler. I prepare a note of the discussions. The barrister tests the experts on their opinions and considers any potential defences to the claim ahead of drafting the particulars of claim. I then begin drafting documents for issuing the case.

5.30pm: I make sure that all of my time for the day has been posted on the time management system and I ask the team whether there is anything else that I can help with before I go home. I look at my diary for tomorrow to see whether I have any more face to face meetings (so I know how smartly I have to dress). I also check my task list and update it with any tasks that have arisen from the day.

About the firm

Group chief executive: Andrew Tucker

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

Who we are: We’re more than just a law firm – we’re a group of like-minded, friendly people working together to help individuals and businesses navigate life’s ups and downs.

What we do: We work with our clients, and take the time to understand what matters most to them. We call it ‘expert hand, human touch’.

What we’re looking for: Trainees need to be flexible in their approach to everything, be resilient to change, and have a drive to solve problems.

What you’ll do: Trainees are trained on the job, day to day, by a supportive supervisor, with three formal reviews per six-month seat.

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.

Diversity and inclusion

It’s in our DNA to value people for who they are and what they bring. We’re committed to creating a diverse and inclusive culture where our people can flourish. We have a strong network to celebrate and support our colleagues, clients and communities covering sexuality, disability, age, gender, race, social background and culture. We’re passionate about continued progress which is why we have over 100 Healthy Mind advocates trained by Mental First Aid England, our HR team are trained in suicide prevention, we’re members of the Mindful Business and Suicide Prevention Charters, and we have a wellbeing hub with a focus on a holistic approach to wellbeing. Our wellbeing approach is aligned to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Our flagship inclusive leadership programme, developed in partnership with Delta Alpha Psi and launched in 2019, has led to an increased understanding to support authentic leader development in diverse talent. We have one of the lowest gender pay gaps in our industry and we’re proud to the UK’s number one law firm for female partners. We’ve developed policies to help us attract, support and retain transgender colleagues and our LGBTQ+ networking group was highly commended by Stonewall. Our plans for this year include increasing our efforts to attract, retain and develop diverse talent, expanding our diversity training for all colleagues and a D&I Festival. We’re also working with our strategic partner BITC to launch a mentoring scheme. Our diversity board continues to help shape our diversity and inclusion strategy in a way which means we build an inclusive business for everyone.