Survey Results - Trainee feedback on RPC

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on RPC

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘It’s a really friendly firm’; ‘the focus on client service’; ‘I think RPC has a different culture to most firms’; ‘the firm walks the walk on inclusion and diversity’; ‘experience of the vac scheme was head-and-shoulders above my experience at other schemes elsewhere’; ‘mid-size law firm which punches above its weight’

Best thing about the firm? ‘I feel that I can be myself at work and have made genuine friends for life’; ‘the friendly nature of nearly every individual in the firm, people are always smiling and happy to chat’; ‘approachability of the senior staff’; ‘the commercial work is really interesting and topical’; ‘it’s inclusive and open-minded enough to examine where more work is required’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Lack of transparency for trainees such as compulsory seats changes’; ‘low confidence in being kept on’; ‘client secondment options are more limited than they appear’; ‘the politics in some departments including some unrealistic expectations of how trainees are expected to work’; ‘not having an office fridge’; ‘it can be very competitive in some departments’

Best moment? ‘My first completion in corporate’; ‘being central to the team and receiving lots of client contact and responsibility’; ‘being asked to attend a trial in my first seat’; ‘drafting a defence’; ‘receiving positive feedback on a defence I drafted from scratch’; ‘attending a five-day trial’

Worst moment? ‘Having to make various bundles’; ‘working until the early hours of the morning on the eve of a trial that settled just before we were due to leave for court’; ‘running to court to file something when I had only been given the documents extremely last minute’; ‘feeling out of my depth’; ‘long days in commercial disputes’

The Lex 100 verdict on RPC

The firm: RPC is highly regarded for its dispute resolution, insurance and media law capabilities. The firm has offices in London, Bristol, Hong Kong and Singapore. Clients range from hedge funds, European banks and asset managers through to luxury goods retailers and high-street brands, publishers and broadcasters and tech companies.

The deals: Acted as the sole legal advisor to Sports Direct on its £90m acquisition of House of Fraser; acting for News Group and Mazher Mahmood in defence of a claim by the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson; representing the Federal Republic of Nigeria in separate claims against JP Morgan, Shell and Eni, arising out of the oil majors’ fraudulent and corrupt acquisition of an oil prospecting licence for the sum of $1.3 billion; acting for Mr Oleg Deripaska and his company Filatona in Commercial Court proceedings Filatona & Anr v Navigator & Ors; acting for AIG in a US Sanctions dispute.

The clients: AIG; Coca-Cola European Partners; Corin Limited; Facebook; Federal Republic of Nigeria; Ingenious Media Holding Limited; Mr Oleg Deripaska and Filatona Trading Limited; News Group; QBE; Sports Direct.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Banking litigation: investment and retail; Brand management; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Commercial property: retail; Commodities: physicals; Customs and Excise; Data protection and cybersecurity; Health and Safety; Insolvency and restructuring; Insurance and reinsurance litigation; Insurance: corporate and regulatory; Intellectual property; IT and telecoms; M&A: lower mid-market deals, £50m-£250m; Media and entertainment (including media finance); Partnership; Professional negligence; Regulatory investigations and corporate crime; Sport

The verdict

RPC offers ‘hands-on training’ and is committed to ‘supporting career development at all levels’. Applicants were motivated to apply to a ‘litigation-heavy’ training programme and were grateful that ‘colleagues made an effort to get you involved in work that isn’t usually given to trainees’. The ‘inclusive and open-minded’ nature of the firm was also appreciated, as RPC offers ‘flexible working for parents of either gender’. Trainees are ‘central members of the team’ who relish the many opportunities for ‘direct client contact’. Having said that, some were less pleased with the ‘limited choice of seats aside from insurance and litigation’. Respondents noted that the ‘commercial disputes experience is vastly different to the rest of the firm’ with hours and work/life balance varying between departments. This led to some long hours of ‘constantly bundling until after midnight’, during which time newbies occasionally ‘feeling unsupported and overwhelmed’. Conversely, there have been times where ‘work has really slowed down’. Ultimately, recruits felt that they were valued and their contribution was ‘recognised and appreciated’. ‘Managing multi-million pound claims and appearing in court against counsel’ as well as ‘flying to Madrid for a restructuring deal’ were clear highlights. Client contact and great responsibility are the norm but trainees also ‘have a social life outside of work’. The level of ‘support for personal matters’ was impressive, although a few were less appreciative of the occasional ‘old-school mindset in some departments’. As a firm which ‘feels like a community’, RPC not only boasts a friendly diverse team, but offers trainees high-calibre, interesting work. If an ‘ambitious, approachable atmosphere’ sounds appealing, apply to RPC.

A day in the life of… Alex Pollock, first-year trainee, RPC

Alex Pollock, RPC

Departments to date: Commercial disputes; construction insurance

University: University of Leeds

Degree: History, 1st

8.45am: I arrive at the office and, after picking up some breakfast from the café, head up to my desk. While finishing my breakfast, I flick through the latest headlines, before skimming Edge, RPC’s internal intranet portal, to ensure I am up to date on the firm’s news. I am excited to see that, for the first time, RPC is hosting a Bring Your Dog To Work Day next Friday!

9.00am: In the construction insurance department, much of our work comes through instructions from the insurers of construction professionals who are facing allegations of professional negligence. Earlier this week, we received a letter reigniting a pre-action claim against one of our clients, a building contractor, in relation to alleged defects with a commercial development it was appointed to construct. I proofread the report I have been drafting to insurers to advise them on the new developments and the strategy and actions we intend to pursue. With the report finalised, I turn my attention to drafting a robust reply to the claimant’s solicitors.

11.00am: A partner in the team pops over to my desk and asks me to sit in on a call in half an hour. Our client, a surveyor, has received a letter of claim in respect of two allegedly negligent valuations it issued in respect of a piece of farm land. This call is our opportunity to interview the client and obtain all the pertinent information we need to draft a letter of response to the allegations. As such, the partner would like me to take a detailed note. As this is a relatively new instruction, I quickly review the limited documentation we have to ensure I understand the issues at play, before sitting in on the call.

12.30pm: Following the call, I quickly review my note, before heading out for a quick walk around St Katharine Docks to grab lunch from the local food market. On my return, I tidy up the note and then send the partner a finalised version.

2.15pm: The senior associate sitting next to me believes there is a high probability that the parties to a mediation she is attending next week will reach an agreement to settle the claim. She asks me to draft a settlement agreement and court order for her to take along to the mediation. I have a quick look at precedent settlement agreements on the firm’s document management system before starting to draft a new agreement, making amends where necessary to ensure our client’s position is fully protected.

4.00pm: With the settlement agreement now complete, I return to the reply I was drafting earlier this morning. When drafting interparty correspondence it is important to ensure that you use an appropriate tone, and write in such a way that your words cannot be misrepresented.

5.30pm: When I am happy with both the report and the letter, I send a copy to my supervisor for review, who suggests we catch up next week to discuss both documents in depth before we send them to their intended recipients.

5.45pm: I receive a group email from one of the other trainees suggesting that we take advantage of the nice weather, and go for a drink on the Docks. I quickly review my emails and write a detailed to-do list for next week, before leaving the office.

About the firm

Other offices: Bristol, Hong Kong, Singapore.

Who we are: At RPC, you can be you. In an environment that’s real. Strikingly real. Do you want a career in a firm that values personality as much as professionalism? For us, business success comes from building personal relationships and thinking creatively to achieve the best solutions. So if you value character over conformity, the unique over the uniform, and ambition over apathy, let’s talk.

What we do: Our lawyers are market leaders. Our clients are often household names. And together we achieve award-winning results. Results that have seen RPC regularly voted among the best for commercial advice. Our business is built on mutual respect and trust. That’s where you come in. From day one, you’ll have contact with our partners; you’ll have contact with clients; and you’ll be given real responsibility. As a trainee, you could be assisting with large-scale global disputes, or offering business-critical commercial advice.

What we’re looking for: Although proven academic ability is important (we require a 2(1) degree or above, not necessarily in law) we value personality, energy, creative thinking, business sense, loyalty and diversity just as highly.

What you’ll do: As a trainee, we believe you’ll deliver your best if you’re free to be you. And that means being able to ask questions openly, being supported to develop your strengths, and having the right opportunities to grow. Our offices are non-hierarchical and open plan. This means from day one you’ll be sitting close to a partner. Whether you’re handling complex insurance claims, resolving large-scale global disputes, or providing commercial advice and transactional support, your opinions will be listened to and respected.

Perks: Along with a competitive annual salary, you’ll be offered a creative and comprehensive package of benefits. We’re all unique. And that’s why RPC’s benefits package is, too. We respect we’re all real people with passions, families and lives away from our desks. So we offer you the chance to tailor your benefits, offering choice and flexibility to everyone who works here. Our benefits package covers almost everything, from wellness festivals and social events, to extra annual leave, and family and wealth-related rewards.

Sponsorship: GDL funding: fees paid plus up to £7,000 maintenance. LPC funding: fees paid plus up to £7,000 maintenance.