Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Memery Crystal

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Memery Crystal

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘The family atmosphere’; ‘it is small enough to know everyone but big enough to get interesting and varied work’; ‘I thought a smaller firm would allow greater exposure to tasks and more responsibility than a larger firm’; ‘lots of responsibility, close-knit teams, very interesting work’; ‘very flat/ non-hierarchical structure’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The people are all generally friendly and the atmosphere is supportive; no person or partner is trying to overload juniors and they work collaboratively with trainees’; ‘good social life (a lot of ad-hoc Friday drinks, monthly firm-wide drinks and quarterly, organised firm-wide events)’; ‘the culture and the work’; ‘trainees are given good a good spread of quality work by all the partners in a given department’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘There are some late nights (although not past midnight) in corporate and disputes’; ‘lack of big-ticket work and exposure to different kinds of work. The work flows can become narrow and the formal training is lacking’; ‘IT and Print room support is limited’; ‘certain IT systems are dated and can be frustrating’; ‘no secondments’; ‘we find out about seat rotation quite late’

Best moment? ‘Working on an urgent injunction application’; ‘having a senior associate ask me what I think and take my comments on board’; ‘working on a scheme of arrangement from start to finish’; ‘being given the responsibility to run a file largely by myself – I am the main point of contact for the client, despite being in my first seat’

Worst moment? ‘Late-night bundling’; ‘spending six months in a seat where I received very little work’; ‘leaving the office around 9.30pm on a Friday night’; ‘making silly little mistakes’; ‘working into the early hours to meet a deadline, only to find out the deal collapsed the next morning – nature of the business, but very frustrating!’

The Lex 100 verdict on Memery Crystal

The firm: Memery Crystal is an international law firm, based in London. It is commercially aware, entrepreneurial in spirit, international in outlook and pragmatic in approach.

The deals: Advising on 50% of the mining IPOs in the London market and 60% of the broader Natural Resources London listings in 2019, including Taseko Mines, TSX-V-listed Pure Gold Mining, NYSE-listed VAALCO Energy and TSX-listed Valeura Energy; advising Ashtrom Properties UK on the £68m acquisition of the 360,000 sq ft Grade II listed building Exchange Flags in Liverpool; represented Marex Financial in the Supreme Court in an appeal concerning the application of the reflective loss rule; advising Songtradr on the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Big Sync Music; advising the world’s leading oil producer Saudi Aramco’s European businesses on a wide range of HR matters.

The clients: Petra Diamonds, Herbalife, Shanta Gold, Wyevale Garden Centres, Fairview New Homes, Zorin Finance, Aramco Overseas, Marex Spectron, Carabao, Telegraph Media Group.

The verdict

Memery Crystal offers ‘high-quality work, especially in corporate and disputes; lean teams; a supportive environment and a non-hierarchical structure’. To top it all off, the London firm ‘encourages all staff to exercise their individuality’. A ‘close-knit group’, Memery Crystal trainees ‘get along and support each other’ and, thanks in part to a ‘clear and straightforward qualification process’, feel that there is little competition between them. The small intake also means that there are ‘good opportunities to get stuck into more advanced legal work as opposed to just admin tasks’. These include ‘working with a partner on a redundancy exercise that was a national news story’ and ‘preparing advice for clients and seeing it sent off with very few amendments’. Formal training is ‘not as frequent’ and ‘the onus is on the trainee to lobby the firm to provide some’, however, because the ‘exposure to work and clients is higher than at larger firms’, this is less of an issue. The social life has ‘greatly improved since we moved to our current offices’ on Fleet Street, thanks in part to ‘Stella’s (the canteen area with a beer tap)’. Indeed MC is a Lex 100 Winner award for job satisfaction and social life. Several trainees thought that the ‘support infrastructure (print room, secretaries etc) could be bolstered’. Worst moments included ‘document review – which is often very interesting – but usually is very time-consuming’ and a few instances of long hours, such as ‘working late for several weeks on a deal that collapsed’ and ‘leaving the office around 9.30pm on a Friday night’, but nothing too bad. For a firm with interesting clients where all ‘senior employees are approachable and discuss every element of the transaction with you’, research Memery Crystal.

A day in the life of… Louisa Helliker, second-seat trainee, Memery Crystal

Louisa Helliker, Memery Crystal

Departments to date: Corporate, employment

University: University of Warwick

Degree: History 2(1)

9.20am: Since the firm is currently working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, my commute only involves a walk downstairs – as I would normally arrive at the office at around 9.20am and check my emails for anything received over the weekend, that’s what I do first to keep up with my usual routine.

9.45am: The employment department has a daily video call to enable us to stay in contact and keep up the communication we would normally have being across a desk from one another. We discuss a call we have with a client this morning, and the partner sends me some information on the client for background. I read up on the case for the call and have a scan of the relevant employment contracts.

10.30am: I sit in on the client call with the partner. The client is an international company looking to set up in the UK, and is enquiring about UK law regarding workers who are on long-term sick leave, and their obligations to continue paying benefits, in the backdrop of a TUPE transfer.

11.10am: Following the call, I catch up with the partner, who asks me to research a few queries raised by the client. I type up the attendance note, then research the points discussed and start an advice note for the partner.

1.00pm: I take a break for lunch. It’s a much quieter lunch break than usual being at home, as normally I’d be going to the firm’s canteen, Stella’s. There’s a great variety of food options on Fleet Street, and right now I’m missing my usual Friday burrito!

2.00pm: I finish off fine-tuning my advice note, and checking for any pieces of legislation or relevant cases I might have missed. I find it helpful sometimes to step away and take a break or complete a quicker task before sending out notes of advice – more often than not, another point will occur to me I hadn’t considered earlier. Once done, I send the note to the partner.

2.30pm: The partner has asked me to stay on top of government announcements today, as we’re expecting further clarity regarding a return to work for employees unable to work from home, so I watch the PMQs and note relevant issues. Last week I helped write an article on returning to the workplace which was published on the firm’s website. Writing articles has been a good way to keep clients connected with the firm and help ease employment-related concerns.

3.20pm: As the employment trainee, it’s my job to compile a know-how bundle of relevant employment updates. There’s a couple of interesting new cases on the relationship between insolvency and the Job Retention Scheme, so I spend time understanding them and update the bundle. Usually, we’d have a weekly know-how session to discuss these updates and our opinions – that hasn’t been possible at present since today’s news is old news by tomorrow, so we’ve been trying to recap in our daily calls.

5.00pm: I make sure that I have kept my time recording up to date – I generally try to ensure I’m time recording throughout the day, as no one wants to get to the end of the day and realise there’s a stack of time recording to get through!

5.15pm: As I have a PSC course to (virtually) attend tomorrow, I make sure there aren’t any loose ends that might require my immediate attention tomorrow, or that other team members need to be aware of. I have a quick read through of the PSC notes in preparation.

6.00pm: Since there don’t seem to be any further matters coming in, I finish for the day and make my ten-second commute out of ‘the office’ before enjoying another evening at home.

About the firm

Chief executive: Nick Davis

Who we are: Memery Crystal is an international law firm, based in London. We are commercially aware, entrepreneurial in spirit, international in outlook and pragmatic in approach.

What we do: We act for a broad range of clients, from multinational companies to financial institutions, owner-managed businesses and individual entrepreneurs.

What we’re looking for: We are looking for high-achieving individuals with a strong academic background, from any discipline, who are commercially minded.

What you’ll do: Trainees will work closely with partners from all departments, and will receive regular feedback in addition to their appraisals every three months.

Perks: 25 days’ holiday (increases to 30 days with length of service), private medical insurance, life assurance, interest-free season ticket loan, subsidised gym membership, group pension scheme, travel insurance, private GP appointments and cycle to work scheme.