Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Russell-Cooke Solicitors London

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Broad practice areas and a friendly and approachable culture’, ‘variety of work, work/life balance, general friendly atmosphere at interview’, ‘good reputation for being a nice, inclusive firm’, ‘enjoyed the vacation scheme’, ‘smaller teams leading to greater responsibility and better training’, ‘the responsibility given to trainees early on’, ‘it seeks out those with previous careers and didn’t see my uncertainty as to where I might like to qualify as a negative’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Everybody is ridiculously nice! I’ve been here for a year and have yet to meet someone who has not been willing to help’, ‘friendly atmosphere and non-hierarchical structure which encourages all members of the firm to join in’, ‘the emphasis on wellbeing, especially in a national lockdown. The firm ran “recharge” events, including a chocolate-making course with a Michelin-starred chocolatier!’, ‘the work/life balance really is as good as people say – I’ve often been told to go home if I am still in the office after 6.30pm’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Lack of guidance about qualification opportunities’, ‘the salary’, ‘NQ pay is undisclosed because it varies by department and location – this makes it hard to decide where to qualify’, ‘the differences between departments can make it challenging for trainees when moving seats’, ‘divergence in approach between departments and offices’, ‘each department runs things very differently and many practices are not uniform’

Best moment? ‘Completing a sale in the first few weeks of my first seat’, ‘a wine tasting event with my team’, ‘my involvement in a case which settled for several million’, ‘managing to successfully settle three matters for one of our clients, which had previously been ongoing for four years’, ‘attending a mediation’, ‘being involved in a family law trial and assisting in the negotiation of a financial settlement’

Worst moment? ‘Calling up a partner who you have never met to ask a question is hard’, ‘not being able to meet my entire team and other trainees yet’, ‘being on hold for 90 minutes waiting to speak to the court, only for them to be unable to help me once I got through’, ‘miscommunication with a client’, ‘taking a difficult call from the opposing side at home without my supervisor to listen in on the call and offer feedback’, ‘I was so excited for my first day in court, and then the matter settled just before we entered the courtroom!’

The Lex 100 verdict on Russell-Cooke Solicitors London

Known for its ‘culture’, ‘better hours’ and ‘work/life balance’, Russell-Cooke impresses with glowing reports from its trainees. A Lex 100 Winner for job satisfaction, vacation scheme, remuneration and inclusiveness, Russell-Cooke deserves its ‘good reputation for quality of work, small trainee intake, training, and for being a nice, inclusive firm’. Trainees enjoyed the vacation scheme and particularly the ‘mix of people from different backgrounds’. As one trainee highlights, Russell-Cooke ‘seeks out those with previous careers, plus it did not see my uncertainty as to where I might like to qualify as a negative’. The firm offers a ‘wide variety of practice areas with opportunities to work with both private and corporate clients, a lack of hierarchical structure, plus a sense of corporate social responsibility’. Russell-Cooke’s intake size and focus on training earns high praise; with ‘lower chargeable time targets than City firms, and a greater level of responsibility, combined with a greater level of client contact’, trainees feel they are getting an excellent training experience. ‘I get so much time with my supervisor and other partners at the firm giving me feedback and really good quality work’. Negatives include ambiguity around newly qualified salaries in different departments and Covid-related restrictions. High points were ‘being involved in an intermediate trial in a family law case, and assisting in the negotiation of a financial settlement’ and ‘the chocolate-making event with a Michelin-starred chocolatier’. A firm that values work/life balance and provides thorough training, Russell-Cooke is a great option.

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 clients: Pret a Manger; Sky; Chelsea Football Club; The Law Society; British Heart Foundation; Lendlease; Matalan; Unicef; Lidl; World Wildlife Fund; part of the consortium representing victims and families of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The cases and deals: Represented the family of Sarah Hammond in an inquest at Woking Coroners Court into her self-inflicted death; advised specialist agricultural bank Oxbury on its Series C investment round which raised £20m; advised Goldcrest Custom Homes on the structure for a new scheme providing shell apartments in Wandsworth, London; acted for Khalsa Aid International in its response to a derogatory, discriminatory and defamatory message posted on social media which raised serious and real reputational issues; advised Borough Market on new Covid-19 safety rules to keep the market open; overturned a Moratorium Extension Order which had frozen nearly £3m of a client company’s funds under section 336A of POCA.

A day in the life of... Lucy Gledhill-Flynn, trainee, Russell-Cooke LLP

Departments to date: Insolvency, Children and education

University: University of Cambridge University of Law

Degree: English Literature 2(1); LPC and Masters in Professional Legal Practice (Distinction)

9.30am: My day starts with a non-negotiable three mug cafetière of coffee; I’m not in the office today so I manage to escape the condemnatory stares which would normally accompany such an alarming early morning caffeine intake. Mug in hand, I review my tasks for the day and list them by order of priority; first up is a research task into the way that the current Covid-19 regulations affect serving notices of liquidation on a landlord of commercial property. The introduction of government business and personal support measures during the pandemic has encouraged our team to collaborate further with individuals around the firm to ensure we’re giving sound advice to our clients who are navigating a puzzling combination of existing legislation and new pandemic support regulation.

10.30am: I join a weekly Microsoft Teams call to catch up with the associates in my team and discuss our progress on outstanding matters (in addition to how we’ve been riding out the July heatwave and the progress of our home bathroom renovations). I follow up on these calls by calling or emailing clients and co-workers for information and updates which help us to remain informed about the status of all of our outstanding matters.

11.15am: At this point, I like to wrestle with a more substantial task. I begin to put together a Part 36 offer, aiming to strike a settlement deal with a number of rogue ex-company directors facing claims for making antecedent transactions when the company was financially insolvent. The Part 36 offer involves coming up with an appropriate settlement figure, striking a balance between a figure that we’re confident we would beat if we went to trial (as is required by the civil procedure rules) and one that our clients, the company’s liquidators, would be pleased to claim back as an end result. The usual direction from my supervisor is to take a stab at it, provide sensible logic for the figure, and then circle back to reflect.

12.45pm: It’s lunchtime. I message my fellow trainees about a crazy golf and dinner social lined up this week (one that I later had to give my apologies for after receiving an unwelcome text from the NHS contact tracing app… a trainee’s work-life balance at Russell-Cooke can rarely be blamed for putting a stop to social plans, but the pandemic can still be counted on to put a spanner in the works).

1.00pm: I ease my brain back into gear by catching up on some legal know-how. I tune into a webinar about the recent developments of company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) – a process that aims to rescue a company facing financial difficulties by making an arrangement suitable to the company’s creditors.

2.00pm: I’m asked to sit in on a hearing which has been listed to discharge an interim order made by the court to freeze funds in an administration account, held in order to discharge a debt owed by the company in administration to a third party. I take a detailed note of the call and follow the judge’s directions closely as I may need to virtually provide counsel with information at a moment’s notice.

3.30pm: I take a coffee break and stretch my legs before reaching out to my fellow trainees on the CSR committee. We’re hosting the 10X Challenge to raise money for the London Legal Support Trust, in which people are encouraged to get moving using the magic number 10 (10 lengths of a pool… running a 10k… or a firm favourite – buying a round of 10 drinks at the local pub). As the firm is committed to taking on a good proportion of legal aid work, it’s important to support and maintain connections with law centres offering free advice, particularly during the pandemic.

4.00pm: I work on some smaller tasks later in the afternoon; today I’m preparing a briefing note for my supervisor before a call with a company liquidator and filling out proof of debt forms to ensure our clients, who are creditors in an administration, provide details of the debt owed to them so that they receive their fair share out of the pot.

5.30pm: Head in hands, I remember I have foolishly agreed to partake in 100 minutes of yoga for the London Legal Support Trust challenge. Apparently 10 minutes is too short and 10 lots of 10 minutes more adequately reflects our commitment to frontline legal services, a point which I recite continually in my head as I perform the downward facing dog.

About the firm

Senior partner: John Gould

Joint managing partners: Alison Regan and James Carroll

Other offices: Putney, Kingston

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: Up to £10,000 to cover SQE/LPC costs.

Diversity and inclusion