Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Russell-Cooke LLP

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Russell-Cooke LLP

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Good working hours’; ‘location and reputation’; ‘friendly colleagues’; ‘variety of seats available’; ‘strong reputation in family law’; ‘the opportunity to get involved in a range of interesting practice areas’; ‘the firm’s focus on having a life outside of work while doing high-quality work from day one’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The people are all lovely and are friends as well as colleagues’; ‘early exposure to high-quality work’; ‘we are consistently given challenging and complex work and trusted with clients’; ‘the size of the firm means that it is easy to get to know everybody, the atmosphere is unstuffy but professional’; ‘the amount that they really value you as an individual’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The location in Putney means there are less big deals to work on’; ‘the seat allocation process isn’t transparent’; ‘there isn’t a great deal of integration between the firm’s three offices’; ‘the firm sometimes seems slow to modernise’; ‘the lack of a centralised system means that trainees are treated differently in each department and your experience can vary’

Best moment? ‘Attending an important Court of Appeal trial before the Master of the Rolls on a complex case’; ‘regular client contact’; ‘successfully defending an eviction’; ‘dealing with high-value work and actively assisting on a partner’s matters’; ‘going before a master by myself and the hearing being a success’

Worst moment? ‘Thinking I was going to be late to a hearing that I was attending on my own’; ‘receiving poor supervision once’; ‘preparing witness statements to a very tight deadline’; ‘feeling under pressure to create work rather than it filtering down and being allocated appropriately’; ‘accidentally putting the wrong address on a letter which ended up causing a delay to the client’s case’

The Lex 100 verdict on Russell-Cooke LLP

The firm: “Russell-Cooke is the London law firm with a more thoughtful approach. Clients range from individuals desperate for a legal remedy where the result could be life-changing to royal families, celebrities and oligarchs as well as businesses ranging from tech start-ups to household name retail outlets and charities.”

The deals: Acted on a series of legal actions on behalf of Sky UK against publicans and hotel owners showing Sky Sports to customers without a commercial agreement in place; acted for Mr Darnley in the Supreme Court in the case of Darnley v Croydon Health Services NHS Trust; advised The Normandy Memorial Trust on a project to construct a British memorial in Normandy commemorating the 21,000 members of the armed forced killed during the D-Day invasion; acted on the historic sale and donation of the Whitehouse Ruskin collection to Lancaster University; advised the landlord on the completion of a lease to Next for their new three-story flagship store on London’s Oxford Street.

The clients: British Fencing; British Heart Foundation; Chelsea FC; Matalan; Notting Hill Carnival; Pret a Manger; Sky; World Vision UK; World Wildlife Fund; part of the consortium representing victims and families of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see for more details) Charities and not-for-profit; Commercial litigation; Commercial property: retail; Contentious trusts and probate; Court of protection; Crime: general; Employment: employers and senior executives; Family; Family: mediation; Fraud: white-collar crime; Immigration: business; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Professional discipline; Social housing: tenant; Sport

The verdict

Russell-Cooke offers a ‘great breadth of practice areas’ including ‘corporate and commercial law, personal injury and clinical negligence’. Newbies have found that their training contract allows them to ‘run their own matters from early on with greater responsibility’. Such responsibility involves ‘attending mediations, exposure to court and receiving great client contact’. The ‘friendly and approachable’ nature of the firm was appreciated by all, with a ‘good work/life balance’ earning the firm its title as a Lex 100 Winner in this category. Trainees were glad to manage a ‘varied workload’ with ‘realistic deadlines’ and were impressed by the ‘level of supervision’. However, the ‘lack of transparency around levels of pay for NQ positions’ worried recruits, as ‘this varies between departments’. There is also ‘a lot of competition for the same seat’, meaning some trainees didn’t always get the seats they wanted. Indeed, most gripes related to ‘not getting my number one seat choice’ and ‘having limited prior knowledge about my next seat’. Despite this, recruits were excited about the quality of work they received, such as ‘actively assisting on partners’ matters’ and ‘working on the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’. Work highlights include ‘being trusted to meet and take calls with clients alone’, ‘prison visits’ and ‘attending a Financial Dispute Resolution hearing’. As for CSR and pro bono, although there are some initiatives, it was felt that there were ‘few opportunities to get involved with’. Applicants to Russell-Cooke can expect to be ‘less stressed and work shorter hours than at larger ‘City’ firms’ while enjoying interesting work in ‘a good-sized firm where everybody gets to know each other’. If this sounds attractive to you, start your research now.

A day in the life of… Harriet Collins, second-year trainee, Russell-Cooke LLP

Harriet Collins, Russell-Cooke LLP

Departments to date: Charity, commercial estate and family

University: Aberystwyth University

Degree: Law, 2(1)

8.30am: I arrive at the office earlier than usual as I am heading to court this morning to attend a first directions appointment in connection with a financial dispute on divorce. I’m based in our Bedford Row office which is between Bloomsbury and Covent Garden, which is a short walk to the law courts and barristers’ chambers. I begin the day by checking my emails and update my task list accordingly. I then spend the next 20 minutes ensuring I have copies of all the necessary documents I need to take with me.

9.00am: I leave with the supervising partner and we walk to the Central Family Court just a few minutes away from the office. The judge has a number of hearings listed before him so we are not going to be called on before 11am. This gives us time to discuss the directions we are seeking in more detail with the client and counsel. The partner returns to the office before we head into court as I am sufficiently familiar with the case and I have already had a great deal of contact with the client.

11.00am: We are called before the judge and I take a verbatim note of the submissions from both sets of counsel and the order handed down. This includes an order to entrust an expert to value the matrimonial home.

12.00pm: Once out of court, I stop to pick up some lunch. There are a wide variety of places to choose from. When the weather is nice, Lincoln’s Inn Fields is also a great place to catch up with my fellow trainees over a picnic.

12.45pm: When I am back in the office, I meet with the partner for a debrief who is keen to hear my thoughts on how the morning went. We discuss the next steps that need to be taken and how I can assist with moving the matter forward.

1.00pm: Following the debrief, I diarise the upcoming deadlines and prepare a detailed email to the client summarising what action needs to be taken and when.

1.30pm: I check my emails again to see what has been received while I was at court. There are a few emails from other partners and associates in the team with tasks for me to assist on. As the only trainee in the department, I am exposed to a wide range of work. This is great experience, but I always ensure that I have capacity before accepting a task.

2.00pm: This afternoon, I have set aside time to prepare a Form E. This is the key financial disclosure document in divorce proceedings and sets out the client’s assets, income and needs. I spend time drafting the Form E and collating the enclosures while also preparing an email to the client setting out what information and documentation is still missing. I then send this to the partner to review before it goes to the client.

4.00pm: I take a call from a client who is due to have a mediation session tomorrow. The client wants to discuss a pension report that has come in. I have already reviewed the report and discussed it with the partner and can therefore discuss with the client what may be a sensible agreement in terms of sharing the pension pot.

4.45pm: I leave Bedford Row to head to our Putney headquarters for our monthly trainee meeting. We are encouraged to participate in marketing and business development and the meetings are a great opportunity to get together and catch up as well as to discuss networking opportunities and the promotion of the firm. It is also a good opportunity to raise any problems we have experienced.

5.30pm: After our meeting, we all head to a nearby pub to catch up. The firm is very social and there are a number of clubs that trainees can participate in during lunch time or after work. As a group, we get together regularly and there are plenty of organised socials ranging from drinks and dinner to more exciting activities such as a trip to the trampoline park.

About the firm

Senior partner: John Gould

Managing partner: Jonathan Thornton

Other offices: Holborn (Bedford Row) and Kingston-upon-Thames.

Who we are: We’re not driven by profit alone and we’re proud to offer a better work-life balance alongside high-level legal work.

What we do: We offer the most broad-based training contract in London, with seats ranging from crime and family to real estate and corporate.

What we’re looking for: A quick learner with strong academic results (AAB at A level and a 2(1)). You’re used to working – and thinking – independently.

What you’ll do: Four seats across three offices with two formal reviews during each seat and ongoing mentoring and supervision from dedicated supervisors.

Perks: Benefits include generous bonus scheme, pension, childcare vouchers, private medical insurance and cycle-to-work scheme. Plus free lunchtime yoga in Putney.

Sponsorship: Capped sponsorship max £10,000 for LPC fees plus interest-free loan of max £5,000 repayable from salary over training contract period.