Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Thrings LLP

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Good reputation’; ‘the location of the offices’; ‘word of mouth praise of the firm’; ‘the culture’; ‘the firm is known to be enjoyable, friendly and technically excellent’; ‘I have found everyone I’ve met welcoming’; ‘it seemed like a supportive place to learn’; ‘everyone I met during the recruitment process was approachable and understanding’

Best thing about the firm? ‘We are well supported by the trainee coordinators throughout our training contract’; ‘the focus on work/life balance’; ‘the training workshops’; ‘my colleagues’; ‘everyone is so friendly and willing to help if you have any questions’; ‘it feels like a big family’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Low trainee retention rates’; ‘some teams waste a lot of paper, but there are plans in place to go paper-light’; ‘quiet periods where work is slow’; ‘the IT systems are a bit outdated compared to some other firms’; ‘moving offices each seat’

Best moment? ‘Meeting so many great people and being given the opportunity to undertake my next seat in Bristol’; ‘working on matters with a large amount of client contact’; ‘feeling trusted by your team’; ‘receiving praise from counsel on a matter I was largely in charge of’; ‘attending a joint settlement meeting and counsel’s chambers’

Worst moment? ‘The first few weeks of getting to grips with the systems’; ‘the odd occasion you have to stay late’; ‘frustrating a partner by not using the correct format on a document I didn’t know anything about’; ‘doing admin-related tasks, although these are rare’

The Lex 100 verdict on Thrings LLP

The firm: Thrings has offices in London, Bristol, Bath and Swindon. In recent years, the firm has undergone significant organic growth and has built on its commercial focus. The firm provides a full range of legal services to a broad client base, including SMEs, corporates and multinational companies. Thrings also handles high-value family law matters.

The deals: Acting for the Romanian Government in the Court of Appeal case of Micula & Ors v Romania; acted for Santander UK plc in respect of exit, repayment and intercreditor arrangements for an existing customer group; acting for National Westminster Bank Plc in connection with a £20 million development finance revolving credit facility; advising Lovehoney Group Limited on the coordination of their global IP portfolio; represented Arkells Brewery Limited in its acquisition of the business, assets and property of The Priory.

The clients: Airtanker; Arkells Brewery; Corneliani SpA; Countryside; Handelsbanken; Land and Business Association; MAN Truck & Bus AG – MAN Truck & Bus UK Limited; National Farmers Union; Newland Homes; Procurri; Renrod; The Badminton Estate; World Fuel Services; Yuasa Battery Europe Limited.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Agriculture and estates; Banking and finance; Commercial litigation; Commercial property; Construction; Corporate and commercial; Employment; Environment; Family; Insolvency and corporate recovery; Intellectual property; IT and telecoms; Media and entertainment; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Planning; Property litigation

The verdict

Thrings ‘is a supportive firm that is eager to support trainees’ development’. Boasting an ‘exceptional work/life balance, the firm combines good-quality work with approachable associates and partners to ensure the best possible training and development’. Recruits value their colleagues and feel ‘well supported and valued by trainee co-ordinators’. Moving between offices in London, Bristol, Bath and Swindon ‘allows trainees to build internal profiles and fosters a one-firm culture’. Training is regarded highly by new recruits, who are pleased by the recent launch of the Thrings Academy: it ‘really helps with developing soft skills’ such as the recent workshops on ‘organisation, time management and meditation practice’. ‘The dress-down Fridays and trainee social events are a nice touch too’. As a medium-sized firm, Thrings offers trainees the ‘responsibility to take charge of matters’ which many recall as best moments. These include ‘being trusted to independently attend a hearing with client and counsel’ and ‘assisting on a Court of Appeal hearing in an international arbitration dispute’. Others complained about ‘doing a page turning exercise for a 300-page hardcopy lease’ and the odd occasion of ‘staying very late for a mediation’, although these are ‘rare instances’. As for CSR initiatives, ‘working with disabled children and reading to children in a primary school every few weeks’ stimulated recruits, with many appreciating that ‘there is always some sort of fundraising going on somewhere’. If you want to work for a firm which ‘doesn’t take itself too seriously, recognises the importance of people and appreciates that they have lives outside of work’, apply to Thrings.

A day in the life of… Conor Melvin, second-seat trainee

Conor Melvin, Thrings LLP

Departments to date: Agriculture, Thrings LLP

9.00am: I usually begin with a (strong) coffee and go through my emails and to-do list, prioritising what I need to do. Litigation often involves jobs coming out of left field that need urgent attention, so days don’t always go as planned!

9.30am: I start drafting instructions to counsel. We have a case concerning defective machinery, but a written counsel’s opinion is needed to get approval for litigation funding. As a trainee you’re regularly drafting these instructions (whether it’s for conferences, opinions or for trials/hearings) and they’re a brilliant way to gain an understanding of a case, as you need to delve into the files in order to summarise it.

11.45am: Once I have an understanding of the case, the work and files involved, I start researching appropriate counsel and calling their clerks to get fee estimates and availability. I then contact the client for a decision on who to instruct.

1.30pm: We’re acting for the claimant, a farming son, in a proprietary estoppel claim against his father and brother and this afternoon I’m off to the Bristol High Court with my supervisor for the costs and case management conference. Essentially, these occur near the start of proceedings, shortly after statements of case. They are relatively short hearings where judges direct how cases are to be managed, setting timescales for how they should progress and determining the parties’ respective cost budgets.

2.00pm: Shortly before the hearing, solicitors meet outside the court room to see if any other aspects can be agreed before entering, for example, certain elements of the cost budgets. This helps to narrow down what needs to be considered by the judge. For this case, both parties agree the directions in respect of witnesses, the pre-trial review, and timings for trial. However, the parties disagree on the extent of disclosure and whether there is a need for single or joint experts.

2.30pm: The judge begins by hearing where the parties are, and aren’t, in agreement. It’s then for them to ‘battle it out’ (technical term!) before the judge decides what order to make. The judge goes against us on the expert evidence, but is for us on disclosure. Once directions are agreed, cost budgets are then considered. Often, this bit is dealt with much more swiftly than the first part of the hearing.

4.30pm: After returning to the office, I make the necessary amendments to our draft order and costs budget to reflect the judge’s directions and file them electronically with the court.

6.00pm: This evening a few of us are off to a Bristol Young Professionals drinks event nearby. Bristol (although, I suspect I am rather biased) certainly has one of the best networking ‘scenes’. There are always regular events from Bristol Young Professionals, the Junior Lawyers Division, Bristol Junior Chambers etc. They’re a great way to start building those networking skills early on (over a few G&Ts!) and Thrings’ trainees are good at getting involved.

About the firm

Senior partner: Jonathan Payne

Managing partner: Simon Holdsworth

Other offices: Bristol, Bath, London, Swindon, Romsey

Who we are: South-West leading light Thrings is a major player along the M4 corridor. We are a vibrant, expanding law firm with a diverse client base, offering excellent structured career prospects to ambitious trainees. We operate from offices in Bristol, Bath, Swindon, London and Romsey.

What we do: Thrings are the trusted legal partner who offer specialist advice to a number of clients across a variety of disciplines; our clients range from small start-up organisations to household names you would know and recognise. We have specialists who support in areas such as agriculture, banking and finance, retail, health and care, and private client with a growing presence with clients operating internationally.

What we’re looking for: We are seeking talented graduates for training contracts commencing in 2021 and beyond; you may have studied for a law degree or a non-law degree with a conversion, with the intention of a career in law. Ideally you will have 120/300 UCAS points (BBB) or equivalent at A-Level and a 2(1), but we’re open to applications from those with a 2(2) if you have paralegal or equivalent legal work experience.

What you’ll do: Being a Thrings trainee you will have a structured two-year training contract split across four six-month seats. You’ll get to experience at least three different practice areas, with a mix of contentious and non-contentious work. We’re keen to give you the exposure to the different dynamics we have in our offices, so you can expect to get the opportunity to work in a number of our locations with different colleagues and diverse work types. We also run a dedicated Thrings Academy so that you get all the training and development you need and access to our partners’ expertise and knowledge.

Perks: We offer a competitive salary and benefits package, including private medical insurance, discounted shopping at a number of retailers, gym discounts, season ticket loans, cycle to work schemes, pay day breakfast and after work drinks, 25 days’ holiday plus Christmas closedown days, and a day off for your birthday! There are a number of office social events organised throughout the year that everyone is encouraged to join. Joining Thrings is more than just joining a law firm!