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 was impressed by the reputation of the private client and agricultural property teams’, ‘so I could be exposed to high-quality work but stay in the South West’, ‘the dedication to organic trainee and firm growth’, ‘the lawyers were the most approachable I had met at any of the law fairs’, ‘it had close links to my university (Exeter)’, ‘high-quality work outside of London’, ‘location and prestige’, ‘opportunity to work on top national and international work but in the South West’
Best thing about the firm? ‘The collaboration between offices – it feels like there is a cohesive cross-office strategy’, ‘the social atmosphere: trainees have drinks almost every week on a Friday, even in lockdown, and generally employees are good at finding time for a coffee and a catch up’, ‘they genuinely do try to put people and inclusivity at the forefront of every decision’, ‘top-quality national and international work, which is typically led by down-to-earth, brilliant lawyers who act as role models to juniors’
Worst thing about the firm? ‘The location in Exeter outside of the city centre’, ‘I’d like to see more diversity within the firm’, ‘social life has obviously gone downhill because of Covid but we have been sent numerous vouchers and goodies to keep us going from home’, ‘not all practice areas are available in each office’, ‘the lack of clarity on seat availability; sometimes we don’t find out until a couple of weeks prior what the options will be, meaning we don’t have a lot of time to consider’
Best moment? ‘Being involved in a firm-wide wellbeing event and getting everyone out walking for our charity of the year’, ‘taking a note at a final hearing in a complex family case about an international relocation of a mother and children’, ‘I referred a friend who was receiving £1m investment into his business in my first seat’, ‘working on a transaction for a popular and well-known start-up’, ‘some of the international work I have been involved in’, ‘working on a large document review exercise with counsel’
Worst moment? ‘Not being able to go into the office and get to know people’, ‘not having enough on’, ‘spending a lot of time on admin tasks’, ‘not being able to meet people face to face’, ‘missing out on the office experience generally’, ‘one week where I had to juggle a lot of urgent pieces of work; I found it quite difficult managing the expectations of the other members of the team’
The Lex 100 verdict on Michelmores LLP
With a sterling reputation for agricultural property and private client matters as well as an impressive expanding client list, Michelmores LLP is a South West powerhouse with a lot to offer. A trainee reflects the firm’s optimism saying they ‘believed the firm has the best quality of work in the region, with opportunities for some London and international work, yet still provided a great social atmosphere and work/life balance’. Michelmore’s ‘inclusive culture and dedication to organic growth’ strikes a chord with trainees as well as ‘encouraging cross-office working and cross-department collaboration’. Trainees comment that they have ‘more client contact and a better work/life balance’ than some peers, plus ‘a wider variety of work’. The working environment is praised, with trainees ‘surrounded by lawyers who have often come from Magic Circle/US firms to learn from’ plus the firm having the ‘best graduate recruitment team I had contact with by a long shot’. Highlights of training include ‘completing my first piece of transactional work by myself whilst my supervisor was on leave’. Negatives mentioned are ‘the lack of clarity on seat availability’ and the business park location of the Exeter office. Trainees found that it was ‘hard to get involved with any pro-bono or CSR due to Covid, but there have still been virtual events and fundraisers for our charity of the year’. Congratulations to the trainees who ‘organised a wellbeing event for the whole firm which has been very successful’.
The firm: Michelmores is a leading full-service UK law firm where people thrive on delivering complex and challenging work on high-profile assignments for quality clients. Established as a family business in Exeter in 1887, the firm became an LLP in 2007. It has offices in Exeter, Bristol and London, with a national and international client base.
The clients: The Forestry Commission; Freshways Dairy; Soros Economic Development Fund; The Mayor’s Office For Policing And Crime; Exeter Rugby Group plc (Exeter Chiefs); Haynes Publishing Group plc; DMGT plc/Landmark Information Group; Lendlease; CG Fry & Son; Cancer Research UK.
The deals: Advising a ground-breaking partnership between WWF and Tesco as part of a consortium headed by agricultural consultants ADAS, a cross-sector team of Michelmores’ lawyers assisted in developing a roadmap to accelerate the use of insect protein in UK animal feeds; advising recipe box specialist Mindful Chef on its successful crowdfunding on the Seedrs and Crowdcube platforms, a subsequent investment by Piper Private Equity, and recently, on its sale of a majority stake to Nestlé; appointed to provide niche rural business and public law expertise to the Forestry Commission across the firm’s agriculture, employment and commercial teams; advising long-standing client Haynes on three strategic acquisitions, as well as on the sale of Haynes Publishing Group plc to French buyer Infopro Digital; advising Freshways Dairy, the largest independent family-run dairy product supplier in the UK, on its merger with Medina Dairy to establish a c£400m turnover sustainable and progressive dairy business which will promote the best interests of its combined staff, customers and the British dairy farmers that supply them.
A day in the life of... Jasmine Nicholes, trainee, Michelmores LLP
Departments to date: Contentious probate, Asset protection (family and tax, trusts and successions)
University: University of Exeter
Degree: LLB, LLM, LPC
I am currently working in an asset protection seat, which is a mix of work between both the non-contentious family and tax, trust and succession (TTS) teams. Michelmores encourages collaboration and this seat has demonstrated how well the firm works across offices and teams. This has made starting my training contract during the pandemic much easier as it has allowed me to meet many colleagues across the firm, albeit virtually!
7.45am: If I am working from home, I like to start my day with a swim in the Exeter outside pool when I can! On days where I go into the office, I cycle to work and start the day with a coffee and chat with members of my team. If you are a gym-goer, the Exeter office also has an on-site gym that you can use before work (or any time the Exeter office is open)!
8.45am: I go through my to-do list and prioritise the work that needs to be done.
9.00am: I have a team meeting with the family team and then check in with my supervisors to go through my workload and any questions or concerns I may have.
9.30am: My family supervisor asks me to review a file of an existing client who the TTS team have done estate planning work for previously. We are now assisting the client with drafting a prenuptial agreement for her upcoming marriage to protect her substantial assets. I brief my supervisor on the client’s background, and what I think needs to be discussed in the initial meeting such as the client’s future plans, her current lifestyle and information about her assets.
10.30am: I join an initial client video call for a prenuptial agreement. The client is from a high-net-worth family, so we must find out all the relevant information and what assets the family aims to protect. I take an attendance note from the call and I then start drafting the prenuptial agreement and letter of advice for the client.
12.30pm: I have lunch and go for a walk. If I am in the office, I enjoy having lunch outside on the office terrace with members of my team or other trainees.
1.15pm: I attend a knowledge session on US/UK tax planning led by one of the partners in the TTS team. The session focused on the implications of clients being US domiciled and/or if the client has property in the US from a tax standpoint.
3.00pm: I have a virtual coffee catch up with another trainee. Although many of us are yet to meet in person, everyone is so friendly and it’s always good to check in to see how others are doing.
3.30pm: I finalise my first draft of the prenuptial agreement and the accompanying letter of advice that explains to the client the provisions in the agreement and the relevant law. I send the drafts to the partner in the family team for us to discuss any amendments needed the next day.
4.30pm: A TTS solicitor has asked me to assist with drafting a discretionary will and letter of wishes for one of our clients who wishes to give a life interest in their estate to their spouse and the remainder to go on trust for their children. I review the client’s file and research to find the most relevant precedent on Practical Law. I make a start on the drafts which I will finalise the next day.
5.30pm: I have a call with a solicitor in the TTS team from the Bristol office to ask questions about a client they referred to the family team, so we have a better understanding of the client’s background.
6.00pm: I check in with my supervisors to see whether they need me to help with anything before I sign off. When I’m in the office I enjoy going to the Quay for a drink with members of my team. As all the trainees start to be in the office more consistently, we plan to do regular social events which we also invite the future trainees to. For now, we have done several virtual events (even a virtual escape room!) which has been a great way to get to know each other.
About the firm
Senior partner: Richard Cobb
Managing partner: Tim Richards
Other offices: Bristol, London
Who we are: Collaboration and teamwork are central to our strategy. We offer our trainees a high level of responsibility, together with a supportive and inclusive training environment where everyone can flourish.
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: We want to encourage everyone to have an active lifestyle to maintain your health and wellbeing. We offer gym schemes, yoga and relaxation classes, running club, as well as a Cycle to Work Scheme. We proactively support mental wellbeing and promote a culture of openness about mental health. You will have access to a range of resources and activities across the year, including subscription to Headspace, guest speakers and wellbeing apps. Should you or your loved ones need extra support, you will have access to qualified counsellors and behavioural therapists.
Our approach to agile working is to create a vibrant working environment that gives our people greater choice over where they work. Where people choose to conduct their work should be activity led and based on discussions with their team leaders. We believe this approach enables our people to optimise their performance and deliver their best work.
Our additional benefits also include: private medical insurance; group personal pension plan; a day off for your birthday; ability to buy and sell holidays; a day off each year for volunteering; together with a range of social events and special interest groups including our book 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 for trainees on office secondments to London or Bristol.