Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Payne Hicks Beach LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Payne Hicks Beach LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Complex, high-profile cases whilst maintaining a work/life balance’, ‘I had a particular interest in private client and family law, and the firm has an excellent reputation in both’, ‘the size of the firm enables direct involvement with the substance of a case’, ‘there is an excellent friendly culture and a good spread of seats’, ‘the interview process felt like they were trying to get to know us as individuals to decide if we would be a good fit for the firm’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The high-quality cases’, ‘it has a friendly, collegiate atmosphere, whilst providing service of the highest quality to its clients’, ‘the people are welcoming, helpful and encouraging. More senior members of staff are happy to explain matters and points of law and you are treated as a member of the team’,  ‘they want you to succeed’, ‘the balance of responsibility and good supervision given to me as a trainee, with partners taking the time to get to know the trainees and to share their knowledge’, ‘everyone is generous with their time’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The office can be very cold’, ‘teething issues in moving to working remotely have arisen from the IT system having to catch up, but the team works hard to resolve these as quickly as possible’, ‘some partners are paperless and others aren’t; there is no uniformity’, ‘the inclusive culture means that many members of the firm have found a career for life here, so there isn’t much diversity in the ranks!’

Best moment? ‘A partner acknowledging to the client that the work had been done by me’, ‘being given interesting and challenging work in my first seat’, ‘progressing matters from start to finish with a high level of responsibility for researching and advising’, ‘going to an employment tribunal for a seven-day hearing with counsel and feeling like a contributing member of the team’, ‘being asked by a partner for my thoughts on a call with a client’

Worst moment? ‘Limited opportunities to meet the team and clients in person due to lockdown’, ‘the office closing because of coronavirus’, ‘having to deal with an aggressive opposing party over the phone’, ‘working from home during lockdowns’, ‘moving to a new department remotely in lockdown’

The Lex 100 verdict on Payne Hicks Beach LLP

A historic firm situated in picturesque Lincoln’s Inn, Payne Hicks Beach is a quality outfit which is not left in the past. The London firm provides ‘complex, high-profile cases whilst allowing us to maintain a work/life balance’. A current trainee comments, ‘the size of the firm enables direct involvement with the substance of a case and a high level of responsibility, whilst working with some of the best minds in the country’. Known for private client and family law among other personal legal services, Payne Hicks Beach also has strong dispute resolution and commercial practices. ‘I had a particular interest in private client and family law; the size of the firm and speaking to past trainees also helped me to choose’. The small intake allows for individual attention for each trainee, plus ‘an excellent friendly culture and good spread of seats. With only one trainee per seat, you get a lot of good quality work and exposure to cases and other fee earners’. The firm’s culture impresses from the first interaction: ‘the interview process felt like they were trying to get to know us as individuals to decide if we would be a good fit for the firm, rather than being impersonal’. It continues throughout the training contract, as one trainee reminisces: ‘learning the Jingle Jive over Zoom with various members of the firm and their families as part of the firm’s festivities’ was certainly memorable! With a solid training reputation, interesting practice areas and an enviable location, Payne Hicks Beach has a lot to offer.

The firm: Payne Hicks Beach is a Lincoln’s Inn firm established in 1730 providing a full range of legal services to domestic and international private and commercial clients.

A day in the life of… David Whitworth, trainee, Payne Hicks Beach

David Whitworth, Payne Hicks Beach LLP

Departments to date: Corporate, Citizenship and immigration, Family

University: University of Warwick

Degree: History, First

9.00am: I log on to PHB’s remote-working platform. When I need to be in the office I arrive at about this time too. Recently I have been going in more, because in the family department (my current seat) court work and meetings with clients and counsel often require this. But today I am at home and have substituted the commute for a run in the local common.

I skim through emails that have come in since I logged off yesterday and have a look at my to-do list and calendar, adding any updates from the emails I have just seen.

9.15am: One of the emails this morning is from the QC representing our client in a new case. She acknowledges receipt of a document I had prepared, contrasting our position in relation to what the judge said at the preliminary hearing with the opposing barrister’s own view. It was a forensic bit of work and it is satisfying, if a little daunting, to think it is now in the hands of a leading barrister who says it will be helpful as she builds our case.

9.20am: I turn my attention to a relatively urgent task that came my way yesterday. I am preparing the first draft of an application to court to change the parenting arrangements of a child whose parents have separated. I set out why our client needs to bring this issue to the court and the reasons for its urgency. It is great to have a go at something that will form an important part of the early stages of the case.

11.00am: My phone rings. It is a partner asking if I can help on one of the most significant cases in the department. We have a bit of a chat before discussing the matter. It has been very welcome that so many in the firm, including the partners, take the time to talk like this.

11.20am: The partner has followed up with an email with further details. I check the application form I had been working on before sending it to the associate and partner in the matter. I do not have anything else too pressing so I make a start on this new task, which is checking the law on some very interesting technical points to do with security for costs in financial remedy proceedings.

12.45pm: Following some online research, it has become apparent that I will need to get to the office tomorrow to check some hardcopy legal resources we have. As is protocol, I email the head of department to let her know I will be coming in the next day.

1.00pm: I stop for lunch. When we are in the office (and rules allowing) the trainees try and get lunch together. I am told this was a very regular occurrence prior to the pandemic. It is all the easier at this time of year due to the wonderful green spaces of Lincoln’s Inn and Lincoln’s Inn Fields that surround the office.

2.00pm: I have a video call with two senior associates to catch up on a very busy matter that is currently in the early stages of the court process. Over the next few days I will help compile a file of psychiatrists who would be suitable to assess some of the parties in this fraught and strongly contested case about the future care of a child.

4.30pm: Early next week I will be attending a conference with counsel on a matter I have not been involved in before. I find time now to read some of the documents I have been sent as background.

6.00pm: I begin to wrap up for a prompt finish to the day. Usually I log off by 7.00pm, however when things are busier or there is something urgent, the occasional late night is needed.

6.30pm: One of my fellow trainees and I have a meeting with our mentee from Coram’s Fields, a charity with whom PHB has a longstanding relationship. It has been a privilege to contribute to this young person’s first steps in her career, offering our advice and perspective on starting out in law.

About the firm

Chairman of the management board: Robert Brodrick.

Who we are: Payne Hicks Beach is a medium-size London law firm with a global reach, a 300-year history at the same location in Lincoln’s Inn and a thoroughly 21st-century approach to client service. The firm provides solution-led advice and legal services to domestic and international private and commercial clients including individuals, families, businesses and trustees. Much of the firm’s work has an international element, building on strong links with the US, Canada, Scandinavia, the Middle East and Far East, the main offshore centres, Switzerland and other European countries. Work is regularly handled in French, Italian, Danish and Arabic. The firm consistently ‘punches above its weight’ in the complexity of the clients it serves and matters it handles, and specialist advisers work in close-knit teams to deliver a seamless service across all its practice areas. Trainees invariably feel part of the team from the moment they arrive.

What we do: The firm’s reputation has been built on family and private client work as one of the few UK firms that provides these services at the highest level. Its commanding position in these areas is complemented by an excellent reputation for contentious trusts, dispute resolution, privacy and media law, company and commercial law, employment, residential and commercial property, and citizenship and immigration work. Despite its position in the market, Payne Hicks Beach’s lawyers pride themselves on the confidentiality and discretion with which they conduct their work, not least because the firm’s clients include many household names, as a result of which the firm is one of London’s best kept secrets.

What we’re looking for: Applicants should have an excellent academic record (a 2(1) degree is a minimum), a high degree of drive and determination, and will need to demonstrate an ability to analyse problems accurately, to be creative in finding practical commercial solutions and communicating these clearly, as well as a flair for building relationships.

What you’ll do: Trainees spend time in each of four departments, with their preferences being taken into account in this rotation so far as possible. With only one trainee per department, they play an important role, with a high level of responsibility, real work and supervised client contact from the outset.

Trainees are subject to regular assessment, and engage in the required Professional Skills courses, as well as in-house training. However, with the firm’s team outlook and open-door policy they also have access to help and support from colleagues who are acknowledged experts in their fields.

Perks: Private medical insurance; permanent health insurance; employee assistance programme; life assurance scheme; health screening; contributory pension scheme; cycle to work scheme; season ticket loan; wellbeing programme; staff introduction bonus.

Sponsorship: Full GDL and LPC funding, and a maintenance grant each year of study. BPP Law School is the firm’s preferred provider.

Diversity and inclusion

Please visit www.phb.co.uk/careers/diversity for information.