Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Penningtons Manches Cooper

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Penningtons Manches Cooper

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘The small trainee intake’; ‘the firm’s reputation’; ‘the team ethos’; ‘good-quality work’; ‘I really enjoyed my vacation scheme and felt that the firm was a good match for me’; ‘full-service firm’; ‘good training opportunities’; ‘its growing practice’; ‘it provides a good mix of quality work with a friendly culture’; ‘the inclusive atmosphere’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The friendly nature of the people that work at the firm’; ‘the focus on work/life balance’; ‘the culture’; ‘colleagues are approachable and willing to help’; ‘we have a high level of client contact’; ‘working and socialising with colleagues’; ‘the level of responsibility we receive’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The level of feedback I have received at times’; ‘the pay levels are poor’; ‘feeling stressed at times’; ‘the IT systems and technology’; ‘there are very few firm-funded events’; ‘the lack of a social culture’; ‘the offices need updating’; ‘the limited employee benefits and secondment opportunities’

Best moment? ‘Receiving a grant of probate for a matter that I had run entirely on my own with the supervision of a senior partner’; ‘working alongside experienced practitioners’; ‘supporting and working closely with a partner on a complicated deal and seeing it through from inception to completion’; ‘getting closely involved in two high-profile cases’

Worst moment? ‘Working late evenings when we are incredibly busy’; ‘making mistakes’; ‘finishing a week of ten hearings, conferences and client meetings’; ‘realising I had cc’d the wrong recipient when sending a contract which was being negotiated’; ‘feeling a bit unsupported at times’; ‘being left to my own devices when most of my team were out’

The Lex 100 verdict on Penningtons Manches Cooper

The firm: London-headquartered Penningtons Manches Cooper also has offices in Basingstoke, Birmingham, Cambridge, Guildford, Oxford, Reading, Paris, Piraeus, San Francisco, São Paulo and Singapore. The firm has a particularly strong reputation in private wealth, technology and real estate. Penningtons Manches and Thomas Cooper merged on 1 July 2019.

The deals: Acting for KaNDy Therapeutics on its Series C funding round involving a syndicate of leading transatlantic life sciences investors; advising Great Western Developments (Sellar Paddington) in relation to the arrangements with London Underground and Network Rail for a new Bakerloo Line Station and associated infrastructure upgrades immediately adjacent to Paddington Station and St Mary’s Hospital; advising Aprirose Real Estate Investment on the funding and development of two of Birmingham’s largest city centre residential property schemes with a combined value in excess of £120m; acting for Poplar HARCA on its purchase of 70 shared ownership units within the Landmark Pinnacle; leading a groundbreaking group action against Giambrone Solicitors over the Jewel of the Sea development in Calabria. The matter succeeded at first instance and the Court of Appeal dismissed the defendant’s appeal on all grounds.

The clients: AllSaints; Aviva Investors; Aprirose Real Estate Investment; Lanson International; Navitas; Ocado; Tata Group; The Police Federation.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Banking and finance; Biotechnology; Charities and not-for-profit; Clinical negligence: claimant; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Corporate and commercial; Court of protection; Education; Employment; Environment; Family; Immigration; Intellectual property; IT and telecoms; Pensions; Personal injury: claimant; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Social housing; Property litigation

The verdict

Penningtons Manches Cooper is a ‘forward-thinking’ firm which gives trainees ‘the opportunity to grow’. Recruits have a ‘great support system’ and benefit from access to ‘PAs and other support staff’ which enables them to spend more time on chargeable work. Penningtons Manches Cooper ‘really places an emphasis on your training and treats everyone like an important valued part of the team’, something which respondents had also witnessed during their vacation scheme. The ‘collegiate and friendly environment’ creates a ‘collaborative feeling that everyone is working towards the same goal’. Moreover, recruits are given a ‘great deal of responsibility’ and have ‘exposure to high-net-worth individuals’, enough to earn the firm a Lex 100 Winner medal for client contact. Trainees appreciate that ‘colleagues are approachable and have a friendly but professional approach to work’ and that they are given ‘high-quality work from day one’. The ‘lack of secondment opportunities’ annoyed recruits; others felt that ‘the office needed updating, in particular the IT systems’. Best moments include ‘running a client meeting by myself’, ‘attending a High Court hearing’, ‘the buzz from late night completions’ and ‘being offered a job upon qualification’. Conversely, trainees least enjoyed ‘having a very heavy workload from a variety of partners’ which at times was ‘too much to handle’. As for CSR, ‘while there are a variety of opportunities, there is room to do more’. Recruits receive ‘excellent supervision and feedback’ and are pleased that they ‘have such a well-respected work/life balance’. If, like these trainees, you are attracted to the firm’s ‘reputation’, ‘team ethos’ and ‘inclusive atmosphere’, apply to Penningtons Manches Cooper.

A day in the life of… Alex Adams, first-year trainee, Penningtons Manches Cooper

Alex Adams, Penningtons Manches Cooper

Departments to date: Clinical negligence and personal injury, commercial property

University: University of Leeds

Degree: History and Spanish

8.30am: I arrive at the office and get settled for the day by checking my emails and updating my to-do list.

8.45am: I start by drafting a lease report, which summarises the most important terms of a lease so that these can be easily communicated to the client. I send my draft to my supervisor to review.

11.00am: One of the partners has just completed a purchase of a warehouse and has asked me to instruct our post completions team. I draft my instructions so that the team knows to pay the SDLT and which documents need to be lodged at Companies House and the Land Registry. The post completions team will now deal with these matters going forward.

11.30am: My supervisor has received confirmation from a client that they would like us to review a renewal lease and that they are happy with our fee quote. I draft the engagement letter, which sets out the terms on which we are going to act for them.

12.00pm: A client has given us authority to swear a statutory declaration on its behalf so I take it to another local firm of solicitors to swear. When I return, I let our client and the landlord’s solicitor know that we are now in a position to complete.

12.45pm: I assisted on the completion of a lease and rent deposit deed yesterday and the other side’s completed documents have just arrived in the post. I draft an email to the client with scanned copies of these documents and a summary of the important dates in the lease that they should keep a note of. Once approved by my supervisor, I send the email.

1.00pm: Every month we have a commercial property training workshop and lunch. This enables the team to discuss issues affecting the sector and specific matter-related issues.

2.00pm: I get back to my desk and I have received a number of emails from a senior associate, who is currently working on a large sale. I am responsible for managing the ‘datasite’, which is where all the documents that need to be shared with the buyer’s solicitors are uploaded. I review the emails to establish what the documents are, add them to the appropriate folders in the datasite and ensure that we have our own copies. File management is an important part of training so this is a very valuable task.

2.30pm: I have been fortunate enough to assist on some residential property transactions. We have just received a memorandum of sale from an agent for a sale on which we have been instructed. I obtain the title register and plan from the Land Registry and draft the sale contract and the transfer. Once approved by my supervisor, I send these to the buyer’s solicitor.

3.30pm: One of the partners has just received some planning conditions from the council. He asks me to go through them alongside the property’s title plan, noting which conditions will affect his client’s development plans. I draft an email to the client setting out my assessment and I send my draft to the partner to review.

5.30pm: A partner has asked me to draft a report on title, which summarises the legal issues affecting and benefitting a property. I review a report on title from a different matter to gain an insight into the content and structure of such reports. I make a note to obtain the title documents tomorrow so I can start drafting the report.

6.00pm: I update my to-do list and plan my tasks for tomorrow.

About the firm

Chief executive: David Raine

Other offices: Basingstoke, Birmingham, Cambridge, Guildford, Madrid, Oxford, Paris, Pireaus, Reading, Sao Paulo, San Francisco and Singapore.

Who we are: Penningtons Manches Cooper is a leading UK law firm which provides high-quality legal advice tailored to both businesses and individuals.

What we do: We offer a broad range of legal advice including dispute resolution, shipping, corporate, commercial/IP/IT, real estate, employment, private client and family. We also have some highly respected niche practice areas such as professional regulation, immigration and clinical negligence.

What we’re looking for: A high standard of academic achievement is expected. Clarity of expression, written and oral, and reliability in research are important to us. There should be mental flair and flexibility, and on the personal side, we look for self-confidence without arrogance, good humour, openness with discretion, a good team spirit and integrity.

What you’ll do: Our trainees complete four six-month seats across the firm’s three divisions and receive high levels of responsiblity and client contact. On a quarterly basis, trainees attend a day-long training session.

Perks: Bonus scheme, gym membership/subsidy, life assurance, pension scheme with company contributions, private healthcare, season ticket loan.

Sponsorship: LPC – full fees and £5,000 maintenance.