Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Shoosmiths LLP

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Location, culture and opportunities’; ‘ethos of not being an old traditional law firm’; ‘approachability of all’; ‘the people, the client list, and the atmosphere’; ‘vacation scheme’; ‘the refreshingly unstuffy office atmosphere and the ability to go up and talk to anybody’; ‘good work/life balance’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Ambition and reach, especially for its size’; ‘Shoosmiths is a true market leader in many sectors’; ‘impressive, ever-expanding client list’; ‘everyone is friendly and supportive whilst pushing you to do your best’; ‘there are a range of personalities that really make the firm what it is, there is no one-size-fits-all’; ‘great people and good work/life balance’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Salary’; ‘occasional lack of transparency around seat moves’; ‘lack of communication from senior management’; ‘irregularity in levels and quality of supervision across departments’; ‘limited seat choices in smaller offices’; ‘the Edinburgh office can sometimes feel forgotten by the wider firm’

Best moment? ‘The first litigation win’; ‘receiving incredibly positive feedback from the general counsel of a listed US company’; ‘taking the lead on a pro bono matter’; ‘acting on behalf of a client involved in a multi-million pound re-finance project’; ‘being asked to be an advocate for a client in court’; ‘being entrusted to run an hour-long meeting with clients alone’

Worst moment? ‘Going on secondment for the first three months made me feel separated from the office’; ‘not having enough work for a couple of weeks’; ‘sending an email to the wrong person in my first seat’; ‘reading leases to check that each were identical and filing them’; ‘the amount you have to do as a first year trainee on top of the day-to-day job’

The Lex 100 verdict on Shoosmiths LLP

The firm: National firm Shoosmiths operates out of a network of offices across the UK and recently launched a training contract in its London office. The full-service firm is particularly noted for its employment, commercial property, debt recovery and commercial litigation departments. Clients range from small companies and private individuals to FTSE 250 businesses.

The deals: Acting for Buckland Capital Limited in relation to the promotion/ planning application for 6,000 residential units at Welborne Garden Village in Hampshire; advising the shareholders of Xtrac, a world leader in the design and manufacturer of high performance transmissions for the motorsport and automotive industry, in its buyout deal with Inflexion Private Equity; advising Allied London in connection with all aspects of the development of Enterprise City, a major mixed development of commercial and leisure space, including TV and film studios and hotel/leisure at the new St Johns neighbourhood in Manchester; advising Matillion in a major Series C fundraise of $35 million; acting for Walgreen Boots Alliance Group of Companies on the management of their English/Welsh/Scottish real estate portfolio, as one of three panel law firms.

The clients: Allied London, Henkel UK, IKEA, McKay Securities, Marston’s, Mercedes-Benz, Octopus Ventures, Oodle Financial Services, The Hamleys Group, Walgreen Boots Alliance Group of Companies (“Boots”).

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Asset finance and leasing; Banking and finance; Clinical negligence: claimant; Commercial contracts; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Construction; Corporate crime (including fraud, bribery and corruption); Corporate tax; Court of protection; Debt recovery, Employment; Health and safety; Immigration; Insolvency and corporate recovery; Licensing; Media and entertainment; Personal injury: claimant; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Planning

The verdict

‘There are a range of personalities’ at Shoosmiths, ‘as no one size fits all at this firm’. The ‘friendly culture and people’ were unanimously rated the best thing about the firm, rendering Shoosmiths ‘a really enjoyable place to train’. Applicants chose the firm for its ‘open and relaxed atmosphere’, with a few paralegals staying on because they ‘loved the culture and knew it was for [them]’, earning Shoosmiths a Lex 100 Winner medal for living up to expectations. The training contract ‘offers excellent quality of work and client exposure’ and for one trainee ‘feels like a genuine meritocracy as you are rewarded for hard work and showing potential’. One respondent commented: ‘our firm is supportive in practice, I have never been put under pressure at Shoosmiths to reach billing targets’. However, some newbies were frustrated by the ‘difference in pay between offices’ and felt ‘remuneration could be better’. Shoosmiths offers ‘fantastic client secondment opportunities’ at ‘Volkswagen Group and leading supermarkets’, with one recruit travelling outside of the EU on client secondment. These invaluable experiences are ‘great for commercial awareness and a real learning experience’. On the flip side, some feel that ‘there is too much focus on client secondments’ and that there can be ‘stress around seat moves’ which is made worse by ‘a lack of communication’. ‘Administrative tasks and court runs in litigation’ frustrated applicants, while ‘being asked to be the advocate for a client in court’ and ‘running the completion of a large real estate transaction alone’ were fond highlights. If you’re looking for a supportive, rewarding trainee programme in a ‘diverse firm’ which offers newbies the ‘opportunity to grow’, consider Shoosmiths.

A day in the life of… Lucy Sanderson, second-seat trainee, Shoosmiths (Birmingham)

Lucy Sanderson, Shoosmiths LLP

Departments to date: Insolvency and restructuring, commercial litigation

University: Sheffield Hallam University

Degree: Law and criminology, 2(1)

8.45am: When I get into the office, I collect my laptop from my locker and find a desk. I am a commercial litigation trainee but we sit with the wider risk and litigation department. Many of the departments are agile, so nobody has a fixed desk. This gives me great exposure to see and hear what the other teams are up to as well as my own. I make a coffee for myself and anyone else who is around, and sit down to check any emails and my to-do-list.

9.00am: We are representing a number of high profile clients in ‘phone hacking’ claims against newspapers, and have recently issued proceedings in a number of cases. I am assisting my supervisor in drafting the particulars of claim for these matters. There is a lot to do and we’re against a court deadline so that’s keeping us busy. We recently secured some great settlements for clients who have been victims of ‘phone hacking’ and this appeared on the BBC and Sky News websites, which was great publicity and means we have been particularly busy!

10.45am: My previous team, insolvency, do not have a trainee at the moment and so a senior associate in the team asked me if I have the time to take some documents to the business and property courts in the Birmingham High Court, and speak to the court clerk to obtain an urgent listing for a hearing. The clerk tells me that he needs to speak to a judge in order to get the hearing expedited and so I have to leave the documents with him, but I will pick them up tomorrow once a judge has approved the listing and a hearing date and time has been confirmed.

1.00pm: I choose lunch from a local café and meet the trainees in the park near the office to enjoy some fresh air. We catch up about how our seats are going and the type of work we have been doing

2.30pm: I have a telephone conference call with a client to discuss an ongoing contractual debt which we are instructed to recover. I have had the supervision of an associate but I am lucky that my supervisor has let me take the reins in respect of this matter, which is at a pre-litigation stage. We have obtained part-payment of the debt from the other side and are having this call to gather some further facts from our client, give them advice on the best way to proceed, and to take their instructions.

4.00pm: I send the particulars of claim that I was drafting earlier this morning to my supervisor to review and after we have discussed any amendments and she has approved them, I email them to the barrister acting on our client’s claim for a final check. I thenbefore sending them out to our client for signature.

6.00pm: At the end of each day I add an entry to my trainee diary for each task I have worked on today. This is a Law Society requirement and we access our diaries online. I also make sure that I have recorded and accounted for all of my time in the firm’s time-recording system. This is important because it is how the business shows clients how much work we have done on their matter and what we have been doing, which is vital when it comes to billing. I prepare my to-do list for tomorrow. I always do this the night before to help manage my time and so that I know what I am expecting to work on the next day.

6.30pm: I’m part of the Shoosmiths’ netball team and we play in the Birmingham Trainee Solicitor’s Society (BTSS) league – although we have everyone from PAs to paralegals to partners in our team! It’s a great chance to meet people from other firms, then the league cup is awarded at the annual BTSS ball.

About the firm

CEO: Simon Boss

Chairman: Peter Duff

Other offices: Belfast, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Reading, Sheffield Solent. Check our website for offices we are currently recruiting to.

Who we are: Shoosmiths is a national commercial UK law firm which is known for providing a consistently superb client experience. Our focus on developing people, building relationships and results has defined our achievements for over 170 years.

What we do: We offer training across core practice areas in 13 locations. These include commercial, employment, regulatory, litigation, real estate, corporate, tax, private client and asset finance. At the end of your training contract you’ll have the knowledge of at least four areas of law as a platform for your qualification.

What we’re looking for: You’ll need to demonstrate your desire to train to be an expert in law, and the ability to work consistently and collaboratively, for the benefit of you, the firm and your clients. You should be open-minded and innovative with a can-do attitude. Our trainees are encouraged to participate in business development activities, and develop their personal brand profile and written communication style by contributing to the Shoosmiths Careers Blog and social media.

What you’ll do: You will complete four six-month placements – one could be a secondment to a client’s in-house legal team. You’ll train in an open-plan or agile environment with the freedom to manage your own caseload and deal with clients on a daily basis with the support of your team around you.

Perks: You’ll be working for a firm who puts your wellbeing first, with many initiatives and benefits designed to support you, including 23+ days flexible holiday, pension, life assurance, private medical insurance, dental plan, corporate discounts, free eight-week mindfulness course, we’ll cover your membership costs for junior lawyer groups, and £50 and a day off on your birthday.

Sponsorship: We will fund your GDL and/or LPC (or equivalent) while you are studying. We do not specify which provider you should complete your GDL and LPC at.