Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Michelmores LLP

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘I wanted to work with high-profile clients at a firm which had a work/life balance’; ‘it was the only firm I interacted with that was immediately approachable and welcoming at the university law fair’; ‘location in Exeter but with access to London-based/ international work’;  ‘South-West firm with great reviews and opportunities for progression’

Best thing about the firm? ‘That you can be yourself at work and learn from experts in their respective fields who enjoy training you’; ‘the people are friendly, and the hours are not too long’; ‘inclusivity’; ‘the culture makes it a fantastic place to work’; ‘quality of work and training’; ‘trainees are trusted with responsibility and always have support’; ‘really good work/life balance’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The Exeter office is not as social as other offices, which I think affects relationships in the firm and cross-team working’; ‘some supervision can feel wrongly placed’; ‘lack of social events, given the location out of Exeter city centre’; ‘the Bristol office is quite small with no area to eat lunch’; ‘in this particular seat, the opportunities for face-to-face client contact’

Best moment? ‘Client meetings are always a high point’; ‘handling matters from the outset and having freedom to run them’; ‘winning an “On the Spot” award’; ‘running my own matters’; ‘assisting the projects team’; ‘being responsible for the completion on a complex matter, which involved managing fee earners from several other organisations to get it across the line’

Worst moment? ‘When supervision at times felt wrongly placed and approached’; ‘not having enough work at points’; ‘attending occasional events to assist the marketing team’; ‘managing client expectations when external events beyond your control dictate the progression of a matter’; ‘when a task was not properly explained to me’

The Lex 100 verdict on Michelmores LLP

The firm: Michelmores LLP is headquartered in Exeter, with offices in Bristol and London. It has a strong national and continuously growing international presence and offers specialist legal advice across three key sectors: private wealth, finance and investment, and real estate.

The deals: Advising on a multimillion-pound cross-border trusts dispute in the Cayman Islands which involves careful consideration of various family members, as well as complex corporate structuring in multiple jurisdictions; launched group action proceedings against Clydesdale Bank and its former owner National Australia Bank relating to their tailored business loans, upon instruction of RGLManagement Ltd; advised Emma Bridgewater on £8m BGF investment to drive international growth; advised the Mayor’s Office For Policing And Crime on its acquisition of the Empress State Building in Earls Court, London for a purchase price of £250m; advised the world’s largest development organisation, BRAC, on the transformation of its microfinance operation in Uganda into a bank.

The clients: Exeter Chiefs; Finnfund; Greenland Group; Haynes Publishing Group Plc; Lendlease; Santander; Seasalt; Soros Economic Development Fund; The Mayor’s Office For Policing And Crime; The Met Office.

The verdict

Michelmores offers ‘access to fantastic, high-value work whilst maintaining a sensible work/life balance in the South West’. A ‘kind and personable culture’ permeates the Exeter-headquartered firm, where ‘everyone is encouraged to bring their authentic self to work’. Trainees are given plenty of responsibility, even when ‘working with high-profile clients’ and particularly appreciate the ‘very good supervision’ which makes them feel like ‘valued members of the team’. Elaborating, one recruit explained that ‘a majority of partners won’t treat a trainee differently to the way that they treat a different partner and genuinely want to hear a trainee’s views on a matter’. Perhaps inevitably, there are still occasions of ‘partners delegating work and not having time to fully explain the task’, but these are few and far between. Trainees did not always enjoy having to assist the marketing team at firm events either. The Exeter office, where the firm’s training contracts are primarily based, is considered ‘the best’ office, although its ‘outer city location can make socialising difficult’. Trainees may also have the option of undertaking a seat in London or Bristol. Several of the best moments related to attending court, including ‘undertaking advocacy’ and ‘preparing for trial with counsel’. Other highlights were ‘acting for an internationally-recognised children’s cancer hospital in London’ and ‘being responsible for the completion of a complex matter’. Michelmores seems to offer the perfect balance of ‘the culture and structure reassuring you of the available support, whilst having flexibility to do your own thing’. For a ‘friendly firm which is still large enough to offer high-quality work’ and ‘good job progression opportunities’, take a closer look at Michelmores.

A day in the life of… Hollie Suddards, first-year trainee, Michelmores LLP

Hollie Suddards, Michelmores LLP

Departments to date: London corporate; education

University: University of Essex University of Toulouse Capitole 1 and the European School of Law

Degree: Double degree in English and French law including an English LLB (1st), French Licence in private law (1st) and a Masters in International and European Law (1st)

8.30am: When I was in my first seat I would combine exercise and commuting with a run to work along the Thames watching the beautiful city come to life. When I moved to Exeter, to keep up my morning routine, I joined both the firm’s gym and a local gym frequented by a number of Michelmores colleagues. Once showered, I eat my breakfast flicking through the morning news and relevant practice area updates before checking my emails to see what the day ahead has in store.

9.00am: I lead a team meeting running through the list of conversions and transfers we are working on for a number of our education clients. For instance, I am currently working on the transfer of a pre-school to an academy trust. This seemingly simple task contains a number of complex issues which must be dealt with, including obtaining consent from the DfE to amend the academy’s capacity and age range; drafting a transfer agreement ensuring that all pre-school staff, contracts and assets are correctly transferred to the academy trust; and dealing with the land arrangements for the pre-school’s property which must also be approved by the DfE. Following the meeting I draft a proposed set of heads of terms for a lease for one of the other transfers and amend another matter’s commercial transfer agreement.

11.00am: I head upstairs for a meeting with a colleague from the commercial disputes resolution team. We are also joined by counsel on teleconference, to advise an education client in relation to the school’s reputation following a sizeable data breach caused by a phishing email. On my way back to my desk I stop to catch up with a senior associate in the Exeter corporate team discussing the outcome of one of the matters I was working on during my corporate seat in London. Once back at my desk I draft an attendance note and send the client an email confirming the next steps.

12.30pm: Having bought lunch in the firm’s café, I enjoy lunch chatting with colleagues from different teams and those who have travelled to Exeter from the other offices.

2.15pm: I attend an education knowledge session alongside colleagues from the London and Exeter offices. Having experienced using the Mercury protocol during my corporate seat, I prepared and deliver this week’s session on the virtual signing of documents while answering any queries from colleagues.

3.15pm: I meet my supervisor for a catch-up to speak about the matters I am working on, my capacity and whether there are any other areas of law that I would like to get involved in during the remainder of my seat.

3.30pm: I join a partner in a client meeting to discuss how best to proceed with a number of parents who are bringing subject access requests, freedom of information requests and claims against the academy trust. We discuss the different possibilities available to the client and the consequences these options would have. Following the call I contact counsel to discuss drafting letters to the parents before spending the remainder of the afternoon drafting a new set of articles of association for one of our academy trusts.

5.45pm: I receive an email from fellow trainees asking if I would like to head to the Quay for after work drinks. I check everything on my to-do list for the day has been dealt with and ask my team whether they need anything further from me before leaving the office. The social aspect is good in all offices; for instance in London many evenings were filled with networking events such as a (non-profit) poker tournament with a corporate finance firm.

About the firm

Senior partner: Andrew Oldland

Managing partner: Tim Richards

Other offices: Bristol, London

Who we are: Michelmores has a strong national and continuously growing international presence. Collaboration and team work are central to our strategy and our lawyers have access to high-quality work and clients, whatever their location.

What we do: We offer specialist legal advice across three key sectors: private wealth, finance & investment and real estate.

What we’re looking for: We are looking for team players and natural problem solvers, who want to be part of our cross-office and collaborative culture from day one.

What you’ll do: We run a structured training and development programme, which aims to equip trainees with the key skills needed to be a successful solicitor, both technically and personally. Trainees spend six months in four different teams, working closely with a designated supervisor and receiving high levels of responsibility and client contact from an early stage.

Perks: Private medical insurance; in-house gym, including access to an in-house personal trainer; group personal pension plan; subsidised café; a day off for your birthday; ability to buy and sell holidays; a day off each year for volunteering; free subscription to Headspace; free fruit; social events, such as our late summer ball and annual firm quiz; running club and choir.

Sponsorship: We currently fully fund the LPC with the University of Law and offer a £5,000 bursary. Once the SQE commences, we will fully fund the courses and exams. We also provide accommodation and an additional living allowance for trainees on office secondments to London or Bristol.

Diversity and inclusivity