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? ‘Client base, work opportunities and work/life balance’; ‘I really liked the feedback I saw on the website and on other training contract guides’; ‘the client retention and satisfaction’; ‘I liked the idea of potentially moving around offices’; ‘the combination of quality work and culture’; ‘from the assessment centre, it was clear it would be a nice place to work’

Best thing about the firm? ‘There is no competitiveness, everyone is willing to help each other when they can’; ‘its culture. From the first day I felt settled in’; ‘everybody is super easy to get along with’; ‘long-standing relationships with clients’; ‘you have the sense of being valued’; ‘good work/life balance achieved through great working hours and flexible working between offices’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Lack of clarity in relation to trainee retention’; ‘sometimes there are quiet periods in terms of work but not very often!’; ‘the IT systems are quite slow and clunky’; ‘it doesn’t currently offer client secondments for trainees’; ‘the pay’; ‘some of the IT systems are outdated’; ‘sometimes retention levels can be an issue, but the firm is visibly trying to improve this’

Best moment? ‘Getting praise from a partner on an article I wrote for the website’; ‘completing an underlease for a client who I had regular contact with; I managed the file throughout and drafted/negotiated the required documents from the start to finish’; ‘attending a mediation, a joint settlement meeting and a costs and case management conference in the Royal Courts of Justice’

Worst moment? ‘Forgetting to have a rent deposit deed signed by the director when he came into the office – he was only in Bristol for the day and then would be travelling abroad’; ‘being told I missed a deadline for a piece of work when it had been ready a week in advance’; ‘printing and preparing five copy notices to go out before the postal deadline’

The Lex 100 verdict on Thrings LLP

Thrings is ‘large enough to attract a good quality of work and clients, but not so large that trainees are prevented from becoming heavily involved with client work’. Trainees move around the firm’s London, Bath, Bristol and Swindon offices during their training contract and although ‘this can be a bit of a pain’, on the plus side ‘you get to experience new places and people and before you know it you are settled’. Thrings has a ‘great reputation for client care’, as well as for ‘supporting its staff’. Moreover, ‘there is a very sociable and non-hierarchical feel’ and a good work/life balance is positively encouraged. A colossal seven Lex 100 Winner awards have been bestowed upon the firm for job satisfaction, partner approachability and vacation scheme, among others. Thanks to Thrings’ size, trainees can expect ‘good exposure to matters’ and be entrusted with ‘plenty of file management and client contact responsibilities’. This also means that ‘you can get fully to grips with the matters you are working on; you won’t spend huge chunks of your time reviewing endless disclosure in litigation, rather you’ll be drafting, advising clients and attending hearings’. Nevertheless, there was some concern over recent trainee retention levels. Thankfully, this is not always the case and the firm is ‘visibly trying to improve in this respect’. The IT infrastructure ‘could be more advanced’ too. Recruits savoured ‘running a case from start to finish and reaching a great outcome for the client’, ‘attending the Court of Appeal’ and ‘organising the Christmas party’. ‘Quiet days when the workload is low’ and ‘getting to grips with a new area of law’ are more frustrating. If a firm with an ‘overall family feel’ which ‘treats its trainees as an asset’ sounds up your street, consider Thrings.

The firm: Over the past ten years, Thrings has enjoyed significant organic growth, and is a Top 100 law firm with offices in London, Bristol, Swindon, Bath and Romsey. Thrings provides a full range of legal services and strategic advice to a rapidly expanding and increasingly broad client base.

The deals: Won a proprietary estoppel appeal concerning a £10m farm in the Court of Appeal before three Lord Justices on behalf of clients Roger and Pamela Moore; lead advisor on Wasdell Packaging Limited’s strategic acquisition of the entire issued share capital of Honeywood Limited; advised AIB Group in respect of structured acquisition finance facilities for a new-to-bank customer; lead legal advisor on Rockley Holdings Limited’s second sector-specific acquisition of Agribulk Limited; lead legal advisor to Jammac Group on its acquisition of the business and assets of Longview Carehome Limited.

The clients: Newland Homes; MAN Truck & Bus Company; NFU; Denhay Farms; GS Yuasa; HSBC; Spotlight Sports Group Ltd; Bremont Watch Company; Corneliani SpA; AIB Group (UK) Plc.

A day in the life of… Conor Melvin, fourth-seat trainee, Thrings LLP

Conor Melvin, Thrings LLP

Departments to date: Agriculture, real estate and corporate

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 purchased by a farmer, 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, Romsey, London

Who we are: Thrings is based in the South West and is a major player along the M4 corridor. We are a vibrant law firm with a diverse client base, offering excellent career prospects to ambitious trainees.

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

What we’re looking for: We are seeking talented graduates for training contracts commencing in 2021 and 2022; you may have studied for a law degree or a non-law degree with a conversion, with the intention of a career in law. You will need 120/300 UCAS points (BBB) or equivalent at A-Level and a 2(1) to be able to apply.

What you’ll do: A structured two-year training contract split across four six-month seats. You’ll 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 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 life insurance, private medical insurance, discounted shopping at a number of retailers, gym discounts, season ticket loans, cycle to work schemes, 25 days’ holiday plus Christmas closedown days, and a day off for your birthday. There are a number of office organised social events throughout the year that everyone is encouraged to join. Joining Thrings is more than just joining a law firm.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

At Thrings we believe that equality, diversity and inclusion are pivotal to the success and culture of the firm. By valuing everyone as individuals and ensuring that we recognise, encourage, respect and provide opportunities for all, this will promote building successful relationships, good working practices and achievements in line with our firm strategy.

A diverse workforce adds innovative perspectives, styles and approaches to our firm. It helps us better service our clients with different languages, cultural or religious influences.

Ensuring that equality, diversity and inclusion principles are followed is not just about meeting the legal standards set, but about truly valuing each other and growing our firm by appreciating, respecting and protecting each other’s differences. Therefore everyone working here is tasked with the important role of preventing unlawful discrimination in all of their relationships, with colleagues, clients and with others and creating an ethical and respectful working environment.