Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Kingsley Napley LLP

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘I wanted to work with people, rather than companies, and KN offered a very strong practice for private individuals in particular’, ‘the reputation of the criminal department’, ‘the reasonable hours’, ‘the high-profile work is balanced perfectly with a friendly culture and respect for everyone’s life outside of work’, ‘the commitment to D&I and responsible business initiatives’, ‘the small trainee intake’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Everybody is willing to listen and help, from admin staff to the managing partner’, ‘friendliness of colleagues’, ‘the supportive ethos and the focus on diversity and inclusion’, ‘that high-street feeling of being small enough to know most people, yet big enough to take on high-end work’, ‘the firm leadership shows its beliefs and values through actions as well as words’, ‘the people’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The remuneration – this did previously reflect the better work/life balance, but hours and work have been increasing in recent times’, ‘the lack of overseas offices/opportunities’, ‘the sometimes limited responsibility entrusted to trainees’, ‘the trainee salary could be higher’, ‘most days the hours are reasonable, but sometimes there is a lot of work, which requires the odd night shift’

Best moment? ‘Being allowed to have my own caseload and being allowed to make decisions that a qualified lawyer usually would’, ‘positive appraisals – it really is valuable to hear, especially in Covid times’, ‘any in-person meetings with clients’, ‘an excellent escape room social’, ‘networking events – particularly the one at the Sky Garden in London’, ‘receiving really lovely emails of thanks and gratitude from clients’, ‘being given a high amount of client contact’

Worst moment? ‘A large review task – data entry on a spreadsheet every day for about a month and a half’, ‘bundling mistake’, ‘having various deadlines get on top of me and working some late evenings’, ‘some of the last-minute late nights’, ‘a late evening working towards a deadline for a large transaction’, ‘the pandemic and working from home has not been ideal as a trainee, but I would rather be in this situation at KN than anywhere else’

The Lex 100 verdict on Kingsley Napley LLP

With an expert reputation in criminal and regulatory law, a balance between individual and business legal matters, and a ‘reputation for a comfortable and friendly workplace’, Kingsley Napley is a City firm that does things a little differently. The firm is highly praised for its culture and genuine D&I commitments, with ‘various subgroups (i.e. BAME, LGBTQ and Allies, Social Mobility, etc) and the drive to make the firm and the legal profession as a whole more diverse’ a part of the firm’s culture. At Kingsley Napley ‘you are not just a number – there is a very small trainee intake, and the firm cares about your development’. As one trainee puts it, ‘I think the work/life balance is much better, the social side is brilliant and there is a genuine commitment to responsible business which everyone is encouraged to get involved in’. Negatives include ‘the firm’s lengthy NQ process compared to other City firms which are often just an informal interview’ and the ‘salary is lower compared to peers’. Covid’s impact has been lessened by the strength of the firm’s culture: ‘working from home has not been ideal as a trainee, but I would rather be in this situation at KN than anywhere else’. Highlights include the ‘CPS offering no evidence for a prosecution’ and ‘receiving positive feedback from a leading QC on a piece of work I had personally done on a case, and a blog I wrote being picked up by a legal journal for publication’. Kingsley Napley has a lot to offer and is worth watching.

The firm: Kingsley Napley is an internationally recognised law firm based in central London. We have been assisting businesses and individuals since our firm was established in 1937 and have vast experience in many areas of law. Our full range of legal expertise means that we provide our clients with a collaborative and personal service. We are known for combining creative solutions with pragmatism and a friendly, sensitive approach. Many of our lawyers are leaders in their fields and our 11 practice areas are highly ranked in the legal directories in recognition of their excellence. We offer a culture of individual responsibility, autonomy and development, and have been ranked in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work for list for the last seven years. We are listed as the number one law firm in the legal category, number eight in London’s best companies to work for, number 13 in the large companies list and have been defined as ‘World Class’ in the 2021 rankings. Our ranking is testament to our commitment to value our people as much as our clients and others that we work closely alongside.

A day in the life of... Lucy Bluck, second-year trainee, Kingley Napley LLP

Lucy Bluck, Kingsley Napley LLP

Departments to date: Private client, family, dispute resolution

University: King's College London University of Law (Bloomsbury)

Degree: Law (LLB) 2(1); LPC (Commendation)

8.30am: I log on to look over my emails with a cup of tea (we are currently on day two of a final hearing in financial proceedings so most of my emails relate to that). We are all working remotely and Kingsley Napley (KN) has provided us with screens and the other IT equipment we need to work productively from home. We are not expected to be online until 9.30am, but I prefer to log on a little earlier to catch up on my emails and have a clear to-do list ready for the ‘official’ start of the working day (this is particularly the case on a day where I am ‘in court’ – most hearings are still being held remotely at the moment).

8.45am: One of the emails I have received relating to the final hearing is from counsel asking for a copy of a particular document, so I locate it within a bundle from a previous hearing and forward it to him. Once this is done, I work on tidying up my draft attendance note of the previous day’s conferences with counsel and the client (I have already finalised the sections of the note covering the hearing itself so that counsel had access to this ahead of the next day in court to assist with his submissions).

9.15am: The fee-earner on another matter I am assisting with (a straightforward finance matter where I have already drafted the financial remedy/consent order) asks me to send an email to the client chasing up approval for one of the court forms we have previously sent him. I send the email and diarise a reminder for myself to email again in a week’s time if we have still not heard from him.

9.30am: My supervisor and I join the conference on Zoom with counsel and the client ahead of the hearing reconvening at 10.00am. The client has a few questions about his cross-examination which is due to take place today. My supervisor answers his questions and reassures him and counsel runs through how today’s hearing will run. On the first day of the hearing, it was agreed that a supplementary bundle would be produced – I created it yesterday and counsel asks me to have an email with it ready to send to the judge and other parties once he has dealt with the issue in ‘housekeeping’ at the start of the hearing.

10.00am: The hearing is being held on CVP – the judge checks that all parties are present and asks her clerk to start the recording. The preliminary ‘housekeeping’ issues are dealt with (including the supplementary bundle which I send to the judge and the other parties) and our client’s cross-examination begins. Judges are very aware that remote hearings mean a lot of screen-time which can be tiring and stressful for parties and legal teams alike – this judge made a special effort to schedule regular breaks so staring at a screen for hours on end could be avoided. During the hearing I take a careful and accurate attendance note which I will type up later in time to send to counsel before the close of play.

1.00pm: The hearing is adjourned to be reconvened at 10.00am tomorrow. The client, counsel, my supervisor and I jump back onto the Zoom conference for a quick chat as to how the hearing went and to plan for tomorrow. We agree to meet again on Zoom at 9.30am the next day.

1.30pm: I make myself some lunch and join the rest of the family team on Zoom for a lunchtime training session on equality, diversity and inclusion. KN encourages trainees to attend as many training and know-how sessions as possible – departments also have fortnightly know-how meetings which trainees are encouraged to get involved with (I am presenting at one of these later in the month on a parental alienation case). There is also a diversity and inclusion committee at KN – most recently the committee (in partnership with the charities and communities committee) organised the ‘KN CReW’ event to raise awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement and money for the charity Show Racism the Red Card. KN is really keen for its trainees to be involved with its responsible business initiatives (I am an active member of both the charities and communities committee and the diversity and inclusion committee).

2.30pm: I have a quick break away from my screen to sit in the garden (the weather is beautiful!).

3.00pm: I review and finalise my attendance note of this morning’s hearing and circulate it to my supervisor, the matter partner and counsel.

4.30pm: I call one of my colleagues in private client (my first seat) to ask her about an issue that has arisen in the case relating to next of kin and lasting powers of attorney. One of the many great things about KN is their strong cross-practice approach and as a trainee working across lots of different departments you really experience this first hand. I type up her advice, forward it to my supervisor and the matter partner, and draft a detailed email to the client setting out what she has said and what his options are. The partner approves my draft and I send it on to the client. KN really supports trainees in having client contact and it’s great to have exposure to such a wide range of clients and matters (I have been fortunate to see this case all the way through to the final hearing, and am working on others which have exposed me to different matter types and helped me in learning new skills – for example, children proceedings).

5.00pm: I join my colleagues from several other departments on a Skype meeting to plan our latest charity event, which is a ‘virtual fair’ taking place on Zoom across a week. We will have a new competition every day, from the traditional ‘guess how many sweets in the jar’ to the more niche ‘bake a cake that represents KN’ competition. KN’s charities and communities committee supports two charities in two-year cycles and we are currently supporting The Maytree Suicide Respite Centre and DOTS (Dogs On The Streets). The money raised from the KN virtual fair will be split equally between the two charities.

5.30pm: After checking with my supervisor that I’ve done all the tasks she needs me to do, I submit my time-recording entries (I use timers that I start and pause throughout the day to ensure accuracy) and join my colleagues for one of several weekly free yoga sessions that KN offers. During lockdown, these are being run on Zoom or Skype and reflect KN’s commitment to ensuring the wellbeing of their employees (I certainly needed a stretch after a long day in front of my screen!)

6.30pm: The yoga session finishes and I have one last check of my emails to see if anything needs to be done (it doesn’t) and log off for the day.

About the firm

Senior partner: Stephen Parkinson

Managing partner: Linda Woolley

Who we are: Kingsley Napley LLP is an internationally recognised law firm based in London. We have 11 different areas of law, ranging from criminal litigation to family and clinical negligence, and many of our lawyers are leaders in their field. The work can be both complex and high profile, and our clients are often in the public eye, so confidentiality and discretion are absolutely key. The stakes are often very high, therefore the work can be fast-paced and demanding. Kingsley Napley has a unique culture which we work hard to maintain. For us, what makes our culture unique is the pervading sense of family and that ‘we are all in it together’. Our values are at the core of everything that we do. They guide our behaviour and our behaviour defines our culture.

What we do: We support individuals and businesses in resolving conflict, safeguarding their futures and maximising opportunities. Our wide range of expertise means that we can provide legal expertise for your business and private life, when it matters most. Many of our lawyers are leaders in their field and our practice areas are highly ranked by the legal directories. Most of our services are offered on an hourly rate basis and as many of our clients’ matters are complex and often involve multiple parties, there is rarely a typical case. Our clients are given an estimate of costs after our initial meeting or as part of the engagement process. There are some areas where we are able to be more indicative and, as in accordance with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) guidance on price transparency, we have published our price and service information where it is possible to be upfront about charges without knowing all the details of the matter.

What we’re looking for: Our trainees are a top priority for the future of the firm. We look for candidates who have motivation, enthusiasm and commercial awareness, as well as a passion for the areas of law we practise in. We want our trainees to bring something to the table and to be creative and practical problem solvers.

What you’ll do: As a trainee at KN you’ll be working with a range of highly experienced, exceptional lawyers in each practice across a variety of matters. We like our trainees to progress quickly, so once they’ve learnt the ropes they are given more responsibility and offered the chance to meet clients, be responsible for their own work, and to take part in marketing and client development activities.

Our trainees are given all the training they need while training with us, including professional skills courses in each seat, on-the-job experience, seminars that we hold at the firm, and regular know-how meetings. We also allocate trainees a training budget per seat, so that they can attend any additional training sessions that the trainees or their supervisors think may be necessary. In addition to a training budget, our trainees are also given a marketing and social budget, which get well used!

Core benefits: life assurance, PHI, pension, private medical insurance and cash plan benefit.

Flexible benefits: cycle to work scheme, dental insurance, give as you earn, Tastecard, health screenings, holiday buy/sell/bank, retail and technology vouchers, will writing, GymFlex discounted gym rates, 24/7 available employee assistance and therapy programme, available through Lifeworks.

Other benefits: discretionary performance award, wellness subsidy for use towards a wellbeing activity of your choice, conveyancing contribution, gym loan, holiday accrual with length of service, free independent mortgage advice, long service awards, season ticket loan, time off for good causes, wellbeing events – Pilates, HIIT and yoga.

Sponsorship: £10,000 towards the SQE. SQE 1 & 2 assessment fees paid (first sitting only) and SQE plus paid for. SQE plus covers the additional knowledge you will need to thrive as a lawyer at KN.

Diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion of all is how we live our values at Kingsley Napley. We recognise that valuing each other’s individuality and difference brings strength to the teams we work in, our departments and the firm as a whole. Our values of teamwork and respect as well as fairness and understanding underpin our equality and diversity policy, and our open and friendly culture breeds inclusivity. At Kingsley Napley we value everyone as individuals and have a consultative approach throughout the firm, from departmental strategy to key firm-wide decisions. We encourage everyone to participate in firm-wide discussions and share ideas as we believe in harnessing the diverse perspectives of everyone in the firm. It makes us better placed to meet our client needs, understand each other, work together, and strengthen the culture of the firm. We are committed to ensuring all of our people have full opportunity to maximise their potential, for themselves and for the firm, and the key to this is embedding diversity and inclusion in all recruitment processes, our internal practices such as promotion and training, and working environment.