Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Reed Smith LLP

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘The graduate recruitment team’; ‘the firm has a great reputation for winning high-profile and interesting work while retaining a down-to-earth and friendly atmosphere’; ‘diversity and inclusion’; ‘its litigation practices’; ‘the size of the trainee intake – around 25 a year’; ‘great variety of work’

Best thing about the firm? ‘By some distance, the people’; ‘the lovely office and the canteen’; ‘the supportive trainee cohort’; ‘the diversity and inclusion aspects. PRISM (the LGBT network) is particularly impressive at making people feel they can be their true selves at work’; ‘good exposure to great quality work, especially in the top-tier departments (e.g. shipping)’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Relative to all the firm does, the seat choices are slim’; ‘the opacity on how HR or seat allocation decisions are made’; ‘the hours can be long and this can be hard to adjust to, especially as a first seat trainee’; ‘assumed knowledge by some supervisors’; ‘the seat selection process – you can only put one seat per practice group and you can’t rank your choices’

Best moment? ‘Getting published on a blog’; ‘making an application in front of a master’; ‘being solely in charge of a physical signing at a client office’; ‘secondment to Liberty and Reprieve for six months’; ‘team lunches’; ‘training at Bloomberg HQ’; ‘going on international secondment’; ‘preparing and attending a Court of Appeal hearing’; ‘presenting at a client meeting on a project I had been working on for three months’

Worst moment? ‘Sitting through lots of online IT modules’; ‘staying until 11.30pm one night, then 1.30am the following. There were moments where I felt a little overwhelmed when I did not know what to do’; ‘being told off by a non-supervisor partner for overstepping’; ‘a disagreement with a secretary’; ‘terrible hours within one week of starting the training contract’

The Lex 100 verdict on Reed Smith LLP

The firm: Reed Smith is a dynamic international law firm dedicated to helping clients move their businesses forward. Its belief is that by delivering smarter and more creative legal services, it will not only enrich clients’ experiences with it, but also support them in achieving​ their business goals.

The verdict

Reed Smith’s ‘international commercial work’, ‘range of practice areas and sectors’ and ‘interest in promoting diversity and inclusion’ appealed to current trainees. Several respondents had experienced the ‘genuine, warm feel to the firm’ on the vacation scheme and during the recruitment process, where they encountered ‘interviewers who were clearly very smart but also easygoing’. Reed Smith ‘has some of the nicest teams of people to work with ‘where everyone is supportive, approachable and enthusiastic about their work’. Trainees make up an intake of about 25 a year, which means they never feel like ‘simply another face in the crowd’ and ‘get on like a house on fire’. Nevertheless, some complained about the ‘limited perks for trainees’. Another worry was that the ‘responsibility given and experiences vary too much between departments’, with a culture of face-time still perceived to feature in some teams. Three Lex 100 Winner awards have been won for job satisfaction, inclusivity and international secondments. Overseas placements were described as ‘amazing, had a wonderful time abroad’ thanks to ‘extensive exposure to different types of workflow, clients and working methods’. Back in London, the Broadgate Tower office has ‘amazing views’, which is probably helpful when undergoing trainee rites of passage such as ‘bundling on the shipping floor until 3.30am’. Recruits felt on top of the world after ‘being singled out for praise on a firm-wide email’ and ‘attending a case management conference in the first week of my seat with top barristers’. To undertake ‘interesting and insightful work’ with colleagues who are ‘engaged, engaging and keen to train’ in an ‘inclusive, welcoming workplace’, consider Reed Smith.

An interview with… Gautam Lamba, trainee, Reed Smith LLP

Gautam Lamba, Reed Smith LLP

Departments to date: Global commercial disputes, transportation (shipping), environmental, health and safety

University: Wilfrid Laurier University Queen Mary University of London

Degree: Honours Business & Economics, 1st; LLB 2(1)

Why did you choose Reed Smith? Having had the experience of working full time previously, I was looking for a City law firm that offered the right mix of a welcoming culture, an entrepreneurial spirit, a client-first vision and a well-regarded practice. I had the further good luck of visiting the firm a couple of times and interacting with the graduate recruitment team when they visited my university. All those interactions convinced me that the firm checked all the boxes and now, going into my third seat, I am happy to say that I chose well. I spent my first seat with the treaty arbitration team which was a phenomenal experience, not just because that is a quite rare practice for a trainee to experience and has international applicability. I had to quickly learn what is essentially an entirely new body of law and procedure, new terminology and no small degree of inter-cultural awareness. In addition to the great work I have had the opportunity to do, Reed Smith has a very active pro bono department which allows trainees to not only participate but also lead projects.

Which skills/attributes are key for your role? The top skills that come to mind are: communication, a willingness to learn and tenacity. In addition to those it is important to have good timekeeping skills due to the demands of the job, the ability to internalise the clients’ mind set to produce excellent work and the ability to prioritise the many deadlines you will be working towards. There is excellent training provided at Reed Smith to assist during your training contract but it is also the case that a lot of learning is on-the-job.

What are the best and most challenging things about your job? The best thing about my job is definitely the people with whom I get to work. A close second is the not so rare occurrence when something you had read about in the news a day or two ago lands on your desk as a client matter to work on, or equally when you read about a matter that you had worked on. Of course, that level of work comes with demands and at times the pressure can be intense and it can be challenging to balance the various demands on your time. The best way to deal with that is to manage expectations and communicate with your team and ask questions. Mistakes avoided are always better than mistakes rectified later on.

What sets your company apart from its competitors as a top graduate employer? The core culture of being an open, welcoming and entrepreneurial firm is what drew me to the firm and it is what sets us apart from other firms in the City. There is an incredible amount of effort expended into making sure the firm is diverse, not only in terms of gender or ethnicity but also in terms of background.

What is the culture like at Reed Smith? The most apt descriptor is that of a ‘big little village’. At nearly 700 employees in the London office (and nearly 2,000 globally) it’s certainly not a small firm but that size does not translate into a cold, impersonal and detached culture. Everyone from the partners on down is ready to help, willing to collaborate and able to have fun.

What advice would you give to someone applying for a role with Reed Smith? Make sure you know why you want to work at Reed Smith specifically. As with all firms, the number of applications is always greater than the number of open seats and being able to articulate a specific reason will set your application apart from the others. Visiting the firm on an open day is always a good idea. Apart from that I would put considerable thought into how you can use your particular skills and experiences to add value to the firm.

About the firm

Managing partner: Andrew Jenkinson

Other offices: Abu Dhabi, Athens, Beijing, Century City, Chicago, Dallas, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Houston, Kazakhstan, Leeds, London, Los Angeles, Miami, Munich, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Princeton, Richmond, San Francisco, Shanghai, Silicon Valley, Singapore, Tysons, Washington DC, Wilmington.

Who we are: Reed Smith is a global law firm, with more than 1,700 lawyers in 30 offices throughout Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States.

What we do: The firm represents leading international businesses, from FTSE 100 corporations to dynamic mid-market and emerging enterprises. Our lawyers provide litigation and other dispute resolution services, regulatory counsel, and legal advice on the full range of strategic domestic and cross-border transactions.

What we’re looking for: We are looking for you to demonstrate that you have the skills and behaviours which we would expect from our trainees. These are: legal skills (such as research and analysis, and communication skills), citizenship (teamwork, developing self and others), business skills (leadership and matter and financial management) and client skills (client relationships and business development).

What you’ll do: Trainees undertake four seats of six months’ duration and you will be able to choose these from a wide range of disciplines as well as international and client secondments.

Perks: 25 days’ annual holiday, permanent health insurance, subsidised cafeteria, life insurance, lifestyle discounts and concierge service, contributory pension scheme, season ticket loan, staff introduction bonus, conveyance fees reimbursed for domestic conveyance.

Sponsorship: Full course fees for both the GDL and LPC, plus maintenance grants of £6,000 during your GDL study year and £7,000 through your LPC study year.