Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Simmons & Simmons

The lowdown - Trainees (in their own words) on Simmons & Simmons

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Being able to do high-quality international work in Bristol’; ‘I liked the people I met on the vacation scheme’; ‘the firm felt like a good fit’; ‘variety of work on offer’; ‘good work/life balance’; ‘innovative ethos and specialist areas’; ‘strong IP practice’; ‘inclusive and easy-going atmosphere’

Best thing about the firm? ‘The new Bristol office space’; ‘structured training’; ‘social environment’; ‘transparency in training contract process’; ‘my colleagues’; ‘the combination of experts in their particular fields combined with their ability to pass on that expertise to those more junior’; ‘that we are able to compete with larger firms due to its speciality’; ‘high pressure, but nevertheless nurturing environment’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘The dinners’; ‘lack of feedback on work’; ‘limited client engagement in certain seats’; ‘the office layout and lack of natural light’; ‘outdated internal processes’; ‘long hours’; ‘only a few secondment opportunities available’; ‘limited perks’; ‘the coffee’; ‘opacity of graduate recruitment processes’; ‘the workload is getting bigger as the trainee numbers decrease’

Best moment? ‘Working with very highly-regarded lawyers on a high-value bespoke transaction’; ‘receiving positive end-of-seat feedback’; ‘attending a mediation and being asked for my input’; ‘submitting a difficult application to HMRC and it being accepted’; ‘project managing a small matter and taking full responsibility with minimal associate supervision’; ‘London Simmons hockey tour’; ‘working on one of the leading cases of 2019’

Worst moment? ‘Multiple closings on the same day’; ‘sending a wrong document out’; ‘occasionally not being provided clear instructions’; ‘a very intense three-day meeting with a client’; ‘working weekends over Christmas with little supervision’; ‘the amount of business development work undertaken’; ‘working long hours’

The Lex 100 verdict on Simmons & Simmons

The firm: International firm Simmons & Simmons boasts offices in financial centres across Europe, the Middle East and Asia and offers training contracts in London and Bristol. The firm focuses on its key sectors: asset management and investment funds, financial institutions, healthcare and life sciences and technology, media and communications.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Acquisition finance; Banking litigation: investment and retail; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Corporate tax; Employment: employers; Equity capital markets; Financial services; Fraud: civil; Fraud: white-collar crime; Investment funds formation and management; Intellectual property; Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology; Power (including electricity, nuclear and renewables); Private equity: transactions – mid-market deals; Professional negligence; Property finance; Securitisation; Trade finance

The verdict

Chosen for being a ‘full-service international firm’, Simmons & Simmons boasts a ‘strong reputation in funds and financial services’. Trainees appreciate the ‘open-door culture’ and that they have ‘an actual say in seat choices’. Recruits reported receiving structured training with a ‘three-week induction and seat-specific training throughout the first six weeks’. Respondents enjoy ‘sufficient mentorship which ensures that we are not bogged down by the work’. Between ‘being treated with a lot of respect’ and ‘no weekend work’, trainees were generally pleased with their choice. Although the London ‘canteen food in the evenings is bad’, ‘the new office in Bristol is amazing’. The firm is ‘not too hierarchical’; ‘partners and associates are generally very approachable and considerate’. That ‘international secondment options are limited’ was commented upon by several respondents. Some were also concerned that the smaller intake has led to an increase in trainee workload. Not good for those who already dislike ‘late Friday nights in the office’. On the other hand, ‘going to Amsterdam for a client supplier day’ and ‘working on a fintech fund with three partners which resulted in a client secondment’ were cherished moments. One respondent particularly enjoyed ‘a night-time skidoo ride up a mountain to a restaurant during a financial services ski trip’. The firm runs many ‘diversity and inclusion initiatives including the Multicultural Network’ and offers ‘excellent LGBT and gender balance initiatives’ as well as ‘amazing pro bono work with global impact’. If a ‘small cohort with high-quality work’ in a ‘great social environment’ sounds good to you, look into Simmons & Simmons.

A day in the life of…

, Simmons & Simmons

Jordane Watson Second-seat trainee (banking), Simmons & Simmons, Bristol

7.30am: I check my emails while walking from my car to the office. I am getting into the office a little early to get ahead in time for the summer party this evening. A London partner has asked me to email the client on our deal in relation to some tax queries.

7.50am: I arrive at the office, get some breakfast and start work on a participation agreement which we have received comments on from the other side. The partner has asked me to have the first go at incorporating their somewhat ‘vague’ mark up. This is great drafting experience because it is not a verbatim mark-up, rather it requires me to draft clauses from scratch.

10.30am: My supervisor has asked me to call a client to finalise some signing formalities in relation to releasing a share pledge. There are some Liechtenstein law quirks that require a certain order to things. I liaise between the client and the other side to negotiate timings .

11.30am: I have just started working on a refinance that spans seven jurisdictions. I draft a ‘request for quotes’ email and send this out to the client’s preferred counsel in each jurisdiction. Part of my role on this transaction going forward will be to coordinate the advice received from each jurisdiction.

12.00pm: I head outside to the weekly market for lunch with the paralegals in my team. We eat our Thai food in the sun on our terrace.

12.45pm: I receive some comments back from an associate on a security agreement and subordination deed I drafted. Once he has expanded on a few points I get to work actioning the comments.

3.30pm: I ask a partner and associate if I can sit in on a client call to talk through a facility agreement we are drafting. They agree that this would be a valuable training experience. I find this experience helpful because it helps me to understand the commercial reasoning behind certain clauses.

5.30pm: I have been asked to draft a legal opinion. The facts of the deal are out of the ordinary which will require the opinion to have some bespoke paragraphs. I call the partner in London to clarify a few points and he is happy to talk me through it. I make a start, but he lets me know that the draft can wait until COB tomorrow.

6.30pm: I head off with the banking team to the summer party for a BBQ and drinks.

Emunpreet Kaur Rai Second-seat trainee (corporate), Simmons & Simmons, London

8.30am: I check my emails on the train to work. I use this time to action any emails I have received overnight. I try to use the two-minute rule, essentially, if I can action an email in less than two minutes, then I will action it immediately, if it requires more work, then I will acknowledge and add to my list.

9.30am: Having already caught up on my emails, I have an idea of what is urgent and update my to-do list; a client based in San Francisco has emailed asking for our finalised due diligence report. I now conduct the corporate review, involving the review of corporate documents and verification of the target’s corporate structure chart. I draft my findings into the due diligence report.

12.30pm: I attend lunchtime office yoga and then meet some fellow trainees for some lunch; today we have an ex-Nobu chef providing Japanese food in our canteen.

1.30pm: I receive an email from an associate on one of my other deals asking me to review and summarise the provisions in the heads of terms, shareholders agreement and share purchase agreement (SPA). This is needed for all-day negotiations.

4.00pm: I receive a call from the client based in San Francisco; we discuss due diligence follow-up questions.

4.30pm: I amend an SPA issues list and attend a conference call with our client to discuss the SPA, warranty deed and exclusivity letter.

6.00pm: My supervisor, who is currently on a business trip in Tokyo, emails asking for some urgent research on Japanese deals.

7.00pm: I have finished my research and leave to meet some fellow trainees for drinks.

About the firm

Senior partner: Colin Passmore

Managing partner: Jeremy Hoyland

Offices: Amsterdam, Beijing, Bristol, Brussels, Doha, Dubai, Dublin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Jeddah*, London, Luxembourg, Madrid, Milan, Munich, Paris, Riyadh*, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Singapore, Tokyo (*associated offices).

Who we are: We’re a truly international firm, with truly international reach. Every day, our expert teams across Europe, the Middle East and Asia come together to work on our clients’ toughest commercial challenges.

What we do: Our lawyers are sector specialists so they’re experts in the areas that matter most to everyone’s future – from healthcare and technology to the financial forces that power our world.

What we’re looking for: We want to hear from ambitious future lawyers, who are ready to leave their mark. We’re looking for students who are on course for at least a 2(1) in any degree subject. That said, academic performance isn’t everything: that’s why we look for raw talent and potential throughout our assessment process.

What you’ll do: As well as moving through four six-month seats across our practice areas, you’ll also benefit from the Compass programme, our unique and progressive trainee skills academy that offers a combination of practical learning and online tools designed to support your journey through to qualification.

Perks: Benefits included are 25 days’ holiday, pension contributions, private medical insurance including Virtual GP advice, discounted gym membership and health assessments, life assurance, employee assistance programme, eye sight tests, cycle to work scheme, payroll giving scheme, travel insurance, season ticket loan.

Sponsorship: We will cover your full tuition fees for law school and offer a maintenance grant of £7,500 for the GDL and £9,000 for the LPC.