Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Travers Smith LLP

The Lex 100 verdict on Travers Smith LLP

Travers Smith LLP is a Lex 100 Winner in an incredibly impressive eleven categories. The City firm provides trainees with a wide array of sectors, practice areas and seat choices; it is described as a ‘close-knit’ and ‘supportive’ firm, with ‘friendly and talented people, unrivalled training and exceptional quality of work’. Current trainees rate the firm’s ‘real and genuine effort in relation to CSR and pro-bono’ and the training system. The ‘room-sharing system’ is praised repeatedly by trainees for its ‘osmosis’ learning potential and for encouraging of the ‘collegiate’ atmosphere. During the pandemic the firm worked very hard to keep this up; as one trainee appreciated: ‘I feel really included and part of the team which has been helped by the firm making a real effort to do a mix of casual catch ups a few times a week alongside more organised evening events where you get hampers posted to your home and do activities or play games’. Negatives include the associate pay scale, long hours during busy times and that more could be done on diversity at senior levels, yet the comments are abundantly positive. Travers Smith’s reputation as an exceptional place to train continues, offering trainees a richly rewarding experience.

The firm: City law firm Travers Smith advises on a broad range of corporate matters and is widely respected for its finance expertise. The firm counts publicly-listed and private companies, financial institutions, private equity firms and other businesses among its clients. A second office in Paris practising exclusively English law is also part of Travers Smith’s network.

The deals: Advised: International Literary Properties on its major acquisition deal of 12 literary estates; S4Capital plc on the merger of its programmatic media practice, MightyHive, with Digodat; long-standing client Carpetright plc on its recommended cash acquisition by Meditor Holdings Limited; AutoTrader Group plc on the acquisition of KeeResources Limited; and Rothesay Life PLC in connection with the £3.8bn buy-in of the Asda Group Pension Scheme. Acted as administrators of noted homeware and fashion retailer Laura Ashley on the sale of its brand to US restructuring and investment firm Gordon Brothers; advised on a number of recent high-pro le retail and leisure CVAs, including Carpetright, Carluccio’s, House of Fraser, Gaucho, Powerleague Fives and Debenhams; and advised Hewlett Packard in relation to fraud claims amounting to US$5bn, with parallel criminal proceedings in the US, arising out of the US$11bn acquisition of Autonomy Corporation plc in late 2011.

The clients: Auto Trader Group, Axa, Azzurri Group, Bank of England, Bridgepoint, Carpetright, Deliveroo, Hewlett Packard, HSBC, Macquarie, Metro Bank, Micro Focus, Nike, Pret A Manger, Royal Bank of Scotland, S4Capital.

A day in the life of... Reece Morgan, trainee, Travers Smith LLP

Reece Morgan, Travers Smith LLP

Departments to date: Funds and Finance

University: King's College London

Degree: Biochemistry

9.00am: I arrive at the office, head down to the café and get myself some breakfast before going to my desk. I have some emails to catch up on as some of the clients I am assisting are not based in the UK. After responding to my emails, I review my to-do list and reprioritise my tasks for the day.

9.30am: The partner and associates I share a room with are in the office today – having completed much of my training contract in a pandemic, having a full room still feels like a novelty. We all catch up on what we got up to at the weekend and discuss our respective capacities for the week ahead. I have a few documents to review, including an account charge on which we received comments over the weekend. I discuss a few questions with the senior associate on the deal.

10.00am: Another associate has asked for my help to draft a security agreement for one of our clients. The associate outlines the specific details of the agreement and explains the background to the deal.

11.30am: I share my first draft of the security agreement with the associate for her to review. I explain to the associate why I have included certain clauses and discuss whether this was the correct approach to take.

1.00pm: I have arranged to go for a catch-up lunch with a couple of other trainees – we meet in the Braithwaites, the firm café, which has remained open (and free) throughout the past year.

1.45pm: When I return to my desk, I receive feedback from the associate on the security agreement. The associate is impressed with my draft and explains the rationale behind the changes she has suggested.

3.00pm: I have a client meeting later this afternoon to discuss a new deal. I prepare for this call by reviewing the recent questions we have received from the client as well as deals we’ve recently completed for them.

3.45pm: I meet with the senior associate before the client call to discuss what information I think needs to be covered. The senior associate explains any additional points she thinks need to be covered in the meeting.

4.30pm: I attend the client meeting, which is conducted via video conferencing in one of our meeting rooms – while face-to-face meetings have now resumed, most client meetings are still virtual.

5.30pm: Once the meeting has finished, I discuss the next steps with the senior associate. There are a couple of follow-up points that we will address tomorrow morning as I am attending a trainee event this evening.

6.00pm: Graduate recruitment have organised a get together for the current trainees and newly qualified associates. This evening is a great opportunity to meet with other juniors in the firm, many of whom I have worked with ‘virtually’ but haven’t yet had the opportunity to meet in person. Food is provided by our in-house kitchen team, who always provide amazing catering for these events.

8.30pm: After the networking evening has finished, I return to my desk and quickly check to see if I have received any urgent emails.

8.45pm: After responding to my emails, I update my to-do list, submit all of my time entries for the day and head home.

About the firm

Senior partner: Kathleen Russ

Managing partner: Edmund Reed

Other offices: Paris

Who we are: It is not just law at Travers Smith. We treat our clients’ business as our business, their dispute as our dispute, their challenges as ours.

We act for publicly listed and private companies, private equity and financial sponsors, and other business enterprises involved in large and complex UK and cross-border matters, transactions and disputes.

Our clients know that, wherever in the world they or their ambitions lie, we will work as one of their team to get things done. And they know that we will do so in a straight-talking, thoughtful and open way.

Diversity and independence of thought are key to our success. We know each other well and we know that we get the best results when we act as a team – not just within our individual departments, but right across our firm where we welcome views from everyone.

What we do: Our business comprises the following main practice areas: commercial, IP and technology, competition, corporate M&A and ECM, dispute resolution, derivatives and structured products, employment, finance, financial services and markets, funds, incentives and remuneration, operational risk and environment, pensions, private equity and financial sponsors, real estate, regulatory investigations and tax.

What we’re looking for: We’ll give you responsibility from day one – you will quickly find yourself on the phone to clients, in meetings and handling your own work with all the guidance you need. As such, the firm looks for people who can combine academic excellence with plain common sense; who are determined, articulate and able to think on their feet; who are self-motivated and have a healthy sense of humour.

A law degree is not a necessity – nearly a third of our current trainees did not study law as an undergraduate.

What you’ll do: The firm’s comprehensive training programme ensures that trainees experience a broad range of work. All trainees sit with partners and associates, which ensures a refreshing lack of hierarchy and unparalleled opportunities to learn by osmosis from some of the most senior people at the firm. It also means that trainees receive individual and extensive training from experienced lawyers and can look forward to client contact, and the responsibility that goes with it, from day one.

During the two-year training contract, trainees spend six months in one of our corporate departments and another six months in either the dispute resolution or the employment departments. The firm offers you a choice for your other two seats in two of our other specialist teams. Trainees may also have the opportunity to spend six months in the firm’s Paris office.

Travers Smith is a collaborative firm – we treat each other with respect and encourage our people to be themselves. We are very proud of the close-knit, supportive and non-hierarchical culture this creates.

Perks: Benefits include private medical and permanent health insurance, life assurance, health screening programme, onsite physiotherapy, dental insurance, pension scheme, Cycle to Work scheme, subsidised café/restaurant, subsidised gym membership and season ticket loan.

Sponsorship: GDL and LPC fees; London maintenance grant of £8,500.

Work placements: Our Winter vacation scheme is a one week virtual scheme. A day in the office is also expected, but not yet confirmed, on 6 December, so please be aware of this date.

During our Summer vacation scheme students spend two weeks with the firm. Each week, they sit with a different department, sharing an office with partners, associates and trainees.

The work will include attending meetings, drafting documents and letters and carrying out research. We extend our internal seminar programme to include a number of talks, case studies and negotiating exercises specifically for students to give an authentic taste of a City lawyer’s work. The timetable also includes a City tour, plenty of social activities and the option to be involved in sporting activities such as mixed hockey, netball and football. There are also working lunches and informal evening events.

Since the onset of Covid-19, we have run a one-week virtual vacation scheme. We are very much hoping that, going forwards, we will be able to revert to our two week in-person scheme, but this is obviously dependent on circumstances at the time. Details will be available on our website in due course.

Diversity and inclusion

Our approach to diversity and creating an inclusive workplace goes beyond just ticking a box. We value everything that makes us unique and we recognise that celebrating our differences helps make the firm a special place to work. With a focus on allyship and role modelling, we are committed to creating a fully inclusive workplace where everyone can be their authentic selves.

Supporting our people

We have five fully inclusive professional networks, each led by a partner to provide high-level strategic input, connectivity and support for our people. These include:

  • Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic
  • LGBTQ+
  • Gender Balance
  • Faith Resources
  • Enable (which focuses on accessibility needs)

Strategic partnerships

We have developed partnerships with other external networks and organisations aimed at promoting a culture of inclusion and mutual respect in industry and in the wider community, including; Stonewall, myGwork, City Solicitors Horizons, Aspiring Solicitors, Rare Recruitment and JustLikeUs.

Corporate social responsibility

From working with emerging artists to supporting refugees and asylum seekers, our award-winning CSR programme is diverse, exciting and ever-expanding.

Working with local communities

We are committed to working with our local communities, developing meaningful ties with schools, universities and community groups and using our own influence and legal expertise to help give people better opportunities to access the legal profession. Highlights of our work include:

  • Lawyers in Schools Programme
  • Prime work experience
  • Reading Partners
  • BEE Financial Literacy
  • Prospects
  • GROW mentoring

Charitable giving

We create meaningful, lasting and substantive partnerships with all the charities with whom we work. We provide substantial financial support to a nominated major charity partner (on a two-year basis), and also support 100s of other smaller charities via the Travers Smith Foundation.

CSR Art Programme

The Art Programme is at the heart of our corporate social responsibility work and underlines our CSR commitment from the moment someone steps into our offices. Delivered in partnership with The University of Westminster and The Royal College of Art, with support from Serpentine Galleries, our Art Programme supports emerging artists with the transition from student life to professional practice.

Pro bono

Our award-winning pro bono programme is designed to provide individuals, community groups, charities and social enterprises, both in the UK and abroad, with free legal advice and representation. The programme targets the most impactful partnerships and legal work in the following four sectors:

  • Climate, environment, and sustainability
  • Diversity, inclusion and social mobility
  • Vulnerable groups (refugees, victims of domestic violence and victims of human trafficking)
  • Rule of law

Recent pro bono clients include:

  • Refugees at Home
  • The Chancery Lane Project
  • JUSTICE
  • The Green Finance Institute
  • National Centre for Domestic Violence
  • City YMCA

Vacation scheme insider

Zoe Yerolemou: Future trainee solicitor at Travers Smith

University: University of Nottingham with a year abroad at the University of Auckland

Degree: Law with New Zealand Law

Why you applied for a vacation scheme at the firm: I applied to Travers Smith because of the quality of the firm’s work and the culture. I attended an open day at Travers Smith a couple of years earlier, as well as the Aspiring Solicitors Diversity Law Fair last year (where I met people from Travers Smith) and knew it would be a place where I would love to work. I loved how Travers operated as a firm, including the room sharing system and the lack of billable hour targets. These factors demonstrated to me that Travers values collaboration and the quality of its training.

Type of work undertaken: As the scheme was held virtually, all vacation schemers completed the same work. We wrote a short essay, completed a negotiation exercise, and completed a piece of work from one of three departments. I completed work from the dispute resolution department based on injunctions.

Department sat in: Due to the virtual nature of the scheme, I didn’t sit in one specific department. I learnt about the work at Travers through different workshops. For example, from the negotiation workshop, I learnt more about warranties, their utility, structure and content, and the considerations corporate lawyers take into account when entering a negotiation.

Impressions of the culture of the firm: Everyone at Travers was so down to earth and approachable. I loved the fact that we were able to meet with people from across the firm; we had one-on-one chats with partners, socialised with the Travers Smith kitchen team and were able to speak more personally with the graduate recruitment team. This highlighted the genuine non-hierarchical nature of the firm to me because everyone felt equally valued. The family-like culture was also highlighted to me after receiving my offer letter with a personal handwritten note from one of the graduate recruitment partners.

Highlights of the scheme: I loved meeting different people from across the firm because it gave me a feel for Travers’ culture, despite the scheme being held virtually. I also really enjoyed the group negotiation task that we completed. I liked the technical nature of the task, as well as the fact that I was able to get to know the vacation schemers in my group more closely.

Any social events attended: Although the scheme was held virtually, the graduate recruitment team did a great job of organising a variety of social events throughout the week. There were a range of networking socials with graduate recruitment, trainees and partners. We also had a magician and very uniquely, laughing yoga! The Travers Smith kitchen team also led a cooking session where we made cookies while learning about the sustainability of their kitchen!