Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Russell-Cooke
The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Russell-Cooke
Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Trainees come from different backgrounds, some are doing law as a second career’; ‘it has a genuine social conscience’; ‘breadth of practice areas’; ‘I wanted to try a mix of departments, particularly family and corporate/commercial’; ‘refreshingly down-to-earth approach during the recruitment process’; ‘not many firms offer the same variety of seats’; ‘everyone seemed very approachable’
Best thing about the firm? ‘Senior members of staff are very approachable’; ‘the consistent, regular supervision is well balanced with the trust of supervisors to allow me to run files with a high level of independence’; ‘general ethics: namely its commitment to the environment and it has a living wage accreditation’; ‘lack of hierarchy’; ‘whole departments can blossom from one person with an idea supported by a strong business case for the firm’
Worst thing about the firm? ‘The variation in supervision and responsibility given to trainees in different departments’; ‘you can go from running your own files in one team to spending an afternoon photocopying bundles in another’; ‘the salary on qualification and the amount of holiday could be improved upon but this is balanced out by reasonable working hours’
Best moment? ‘Locating a missing beneficiary in a will’; ‘being actively involved in a mediation and the various settlement discussions – very exciting’; ‘working on the Grenfell Inquiry – it felt like my work was really meaningful and could make a positive difference’; ‘going to a financial dispute resolution with a divorcing client and feeling able to support her during that difficult time’
Worst moment? ‘A week where the deadlines were really highly pressured in a way I hadn’t experienced before’; ‘dealing with a disorganised other side who missed all deadlines and were poor with correspondence’; ‘losing to the other team in the trainee Christmas curling competition’; ‘general admin tasks’; ‘I was given very little work to do in one seat’
The Lex 100 verdict on Russell-Cooke
The breadth of work on offer at Russell-Cooke means that ‘there is greater scope for trainees to find the right area of law for them’. From family to corporate, recruits have the opportunity to ‘explore their various interests’ in an ‘open atmosphere’ where there is ‘hardly any hierarchy’ and ‘everyone is friendly, sociable and welcoming’. On the one hand, trainees at RC are ‘involved in more substantial elements of cases and given responsibility, whilst still being supported through superb supervision’. On the other hand, training can be inconsistent because of each department being independently managed; some trainees felt as though they were ‘working for a completely different firm when [they] changed seats’. Nonetheless, Russell-Cooke has amassed four Lex 100 Winner awards this year. One for its ‘very good work/life balance – there is no culture of staying late to be seen’, another for its ‘amazing social life, including sports teams and film club nights’, and two for the vacation scheme and confidence of being kept on post qualification. Several trainees pointed to the fact that Russell-Cooke is a ‘sustainably-growing firm which is not afraid to do things differently’. This ‘even extends to keeping our own bees on the roof (with the added bonus of honey being available to staff)’! ‘A week where the deadlines were really highly pressured in a way I hadn’t experienced before’ was a worst moment, whilst ‘attending a swanky completion lunch after a difficult matter’ and ‘working on the sale of a high-value property from start to finish’ were highlights. To train at a firm which is ‘prominent enough that you get to work on prestigious cases and small enough that you do real, meaningful work’, consider Russell-Cooke.
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; Matalan; Notting Hill Carnival; World Vision UK; World Wildlife Fund; part of the consortium representing victims and families of the Grenfell Tower disaster.
The deals: Representing survivors and families of the bereaved in the Grenfell Tower inquiry; acting for David Briffaut by his family on a potential claim against Aqualandia theme park in Spain for life-changing spinal injuries resulting from a catastrophic waterslide accident; advising the landlords on the leasing of Shellmex House, an iconic building on the Thames; advising Borough Market on setting up a new delivery service via ebikes; advising a number of clients on international surrogacy arrangements.
A day in the life of… Ed Patton, trainee, Russell-Cooke
Departments to date: Real estate, civil litigation
University: University of Birmingham
Degree: History and Political Science
9.00am: I make the short walk to my ‘office’ in the front room of my one bed flat. I stop off via the kitchen for my usual order of tea and porridge. No commute is a major benefit of the lockdown, but there’s a corresponding drop in the range of options available on my way to work. I eat breakfast while reviewing my matter list and emails. There is nothing urgent so I make a start on some ongoing tasks.
9.30am: The team had been working on a high-profile professional disciplinary matter for almost a year when I began my seat. I’ve been monitoring media mentions, but as it reaches its conclusion I’m doing a cost review of time spent on court applications. With seven fee-earners and two outside counsel, there’s a lot to consider. Categorising items correctly requires an understanding of the whole matter so I spend time reading meeting notes, emails and key documents.
11.00am: After making tea, I turn to a cold enquiry received via the website. The lockdown has given people time to consider past or ongoing disputes and do something about them. Disputes involving commercial contracts, car leases, harassment and investment property have crossed my desk. Many pre-date the current situation; some are a direct result of the lockdown. I call the enquirer who emails some documents. I review these and request a conflict check before passing a summary to my supervisor to calculate a fee estimate.
11.30am: We currently have two matters which require service outside the jurisdiction. I research the relevant timeframes, the delays those jurisdictions are experiencing due to the outbreak and the correct procedure at the foreign process section.
12.15pm: I have always been one for an early lunch. I try to spend some time outside daily, whether making a purposeful trip to a shop or just walking around the block. However, sometimes the combination of preparation time for an overly extravagant lunch and/or poor weather proves too much of a deterrent. This is one of those days.
1.15pm: I return to my desk. In my absence, the new enquirer is keen to proceed. I make sure we have everything necessary to open a new file and start reading in.
2.00pm: We have a weekly Zoom team meeting which is helpful to understand what everyone is working on. As a trainee I’m often sent new matters as a result. Unfortunately, the virtual backgrounds have thwarted our chances of seeing inside our senior partner’s house. Today he appears to be dialling in from an exotic beach, but this seems unlikely.
3.00pm: I call a client with an update on his case. His company was being pursued for a debt in relation to a contract that was never agreed. Our robust response is likely to be the last of the matter. He expresses an interest in discussing a further issue with our corporate and commercial team. I make arrangements.
4.00pm: We have had a response to a pre-action letter I wrote a few weeks before. The client is a private school and the claim relates to the hiring of various temporary structures when the school was being renovated. I consider the response received and prepare a summary for discussion with my supervisor.
4.30pm: With trainees spread over three offices, it’s important to bring everyone together regularly. The working from home regime presents new challenges: not just lack of proximity, but also the varying schedules and workloads in different departments. Today we catch up via Zoom for our monthly meeting. We’ve had an online quiz and are working on other ideas for online social options.
6.00pm: Given that I didn’t get out at lunchtime, after completing the last urgent tasks of the day I ensure that I get outside to the local park to enjoy the sunshine.
About the firm
Senior partner: John Gould
Managing partner: Jonathan Thornton
Other offices: Holborn, 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: Due to Covid-19 this is under review.