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 quality of the departments I was interested in’; ‘word of mouth recommendations’; ‘international network’; ‘collegiate atmosphere’; ‘the culture and work/life balance’; ‘I really liked the overall feel of the firm’; ‘there are also lots of opportunities to get involved with high-quality work, pro bono and secondments’; ‘the firm promotes diversity and you are encouraged to be who you are’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The quality of work’; ‘people are keen to teach trainees and they will help you develop your career’; ‘it has a very welcoming feel’; ‘the office space’; ‘the supervisors who are willing to take time to explain tasks, cases and concepts to you so you learn first-hand’; ‘we really take control of our training contracts and mould them as we desire’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The way the seat rotation process is handled’; ‘the qualification process seems like it’s going to be intense’; ‘it’s not always clear about who to contact when there are problems’; ‘the long hours vs remuneration’; ‘limited number of international secondments’; ‘little client contact’; ‘the sandwich selection at meetings/training sessions’

Best moment? ‘Drafting a letter of advice’; ‘attending graduate recruitment and diversity inclusion events’; ‘the quality of work I’ve been given in the shipping department’; ‘attending a pro bono talk given by two individuals who had been exonerated on death row’; ‘getting noticed for a good piece of work’; ‘being seconded to Athens to work in the shipping litigation department’

Worst moment? ‘Losing a 240-page set of hand-annotated verification notes’; ‘when there was a low level of work’; ‘not knowing where to begin with some tasks’; ‘spending almost two months bibling’; ‘sorting through 52 boxes of historical leases’; ‘getting noticed for a bad piece of work’; ‘making a bundle of 500 pictures of grain and then naming each picture’

The Lex 100 verdict on Reed Smith LLP

The firm: Reed Smith has offices across Europe, Asia the US and the Middle East but its London office is its largest. The firm is highly regarded for its work in the media, transportation, energy and finance sectors and also has expertise in trade, litigation and commercial matters. We believe that the practice of law has the ability to drive progress. We know your time is valuable and your matters are important. We are focused on outcomes, are highly collaborative, and have deep industry insight that, when coupled with our local market knowledge, allows us to anticipate and address your needs. You deserve purposeful, highly engaged client service that drives progress for your business. Although Reed Smith works from multiple locations, the firm’s lawyers are linked by more than technology. All share a common culture, with Core Values supporting Reed Smith’s firm-wide commitment to add value, achieve excellence, and promote professional development. These foster a workplace in which diversity and inclusion, pro bono service and community support are manifest.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see for more details) Banking litigation: investment and retail; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Commodities: derivatives; Commodities: physicals; Data protection privacy and cybersecurity; Debt capital markets; Fraud: civil; High yield; Insurance litigation: for policyholders; International arbitration; Intellectual property; IT and telecoms; M&A: lower mid-market deals, £50m-£250m; Pensions (non-contentious); Private equity: transactions – mid-market deals; Property finance; Public international law; Regulatory investigations and corporate crime; Trade finance

The verdict

US-headquartered Reed Smith was chosen by applicants for its ‘forward-thinking approach’ and ‘diversity of strengths ranging from shipping to media and entertainment’. The firm appeals to trainees due to its ‘reputation and international reach’, offering ‘global work with a London focus’. Many admired Reed Smith’s ‘commitment to diversity and inclusion’, so much so it is described as ‘second to none’. Doing ‘associate-level work’ excited new recruits, as the ‘medium-sized intake’ means greater responsibility coupled with the benefit of ‘close relationships with fellow trainees’. ‘Great views from the office’, ‘the canteen’ and ‘the variety of seat choice’ also motivated applicants. Despite this, some trainees were unhappy about the ‘communication around the seat rotation process’ which seems at times ‘disorganised and lacking in transparency’. On the plus side, respondents felt that they get to experience ‘high-quality work and clients without working for a Magic Circle firm’. Furthermore, most recruits were thoroughly impressed by the ‘variety of international and client secondments’, hence Reed Smith’s Lex 100 Winner medal in this category. Indeed, this is reflected in many best moments including a ‘six month secondment to a leading publisher’ and a ‘secondment in the Singapore office’. There were a few grumbles about the hours being ‘longer than expected’ when new recruits were ‘working until 3.30am bundling whilst liaising with lawyers in Japan’. On the flip side, ‘winning a multi-million dollar case’ and attending ‘a three day client meeting around London culminating in a grand dinner’ were particularly memorable moments. If you want to work in ‘a supportive, collaborative environment people take pride in’, apply to Reed Smith.

An interview with… Gautam Lamba,

Gautam Lamba, Reed Smith LLP

Departments to date: Global commercial disputes, transportation (shipping)

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 28 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.