Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Travers Smith LLP

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘The reputation for genuinely kind people within the firm (and my experience on the vac scheme which confirmed this)’; ‘approachability of senior lawyers, reputation and retention rates’; ‘the unique approach to international work’; ‘an evidently fantastic culture married with great work and clients’; ‘enjoyable vac scheme, collaborative approach, and the fact that lots of partners had trained at the firm’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Social cohesion between the trainee group’; ‘friendly people and good food’; ‘the lack of hierarchy’; ‘the room-sharing system’; ‘the welcoming atmosphere’; ‘mid-size means there is an opportunity to get to know people well across the firm’; ‘lack of target hours’; ‘the commercial department’; ‘the culture – it is a fun, interesting and supportive place to work alongside excellent people’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Size of the internal gym’; ‘there is still room to improve diversity’; ‘the qualification process’; ‘very corporate heavy’; ‘disappointing evening meals’; ‘the only international seat is in Paris’; ‘hours in corporate can be very rough’; ‘maintaining a work/life balance can sometimes be difficult’; ‘sometimes the IT systems can be temperamental’; ‘the low-level office politics’

Best moment? ‘Being trusted to coordinate and complete a signing with just a partner’; ‘receiving thank you emails from clients’; ‘working on a case that was receiving daily media attention’; ‘an email from my supervising partner praising my work in all of six words’; ‘drafting a cease and desist letter in respect of an IP trademark infringement’; ‘attending court’

Worst moment? ‘A week of leaving the office in the early hours’; ‘continual repetitive workstreams without variety (in certain teams)’; ‘there is a lot of bundling in dispute resolution….’; ‘a couple of late nights!’; ‘data rooms all week till midnight’; ‘a “busy spell” in M&A that lasted eight weeks’; ‘making a mistake on a document signed by a client’; ‘working all weekend’

The Lex 100 verdict on Travers Smith LLP

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.

The verdict

‘Having met a number of trainees and the graduate recruitment team at events, it was clear to me that Travers Smith had a great balance of interesting work whilst also valuing your social life’. The workplace environment is ‘positive’ and trainees ‘feel very supported, especially given that they share an office with a partner and at least one associate who ‘want to make sure that you actually understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it’. The London firm is a deserving recipient of four Lex 100 Winner awards for job satisfaction, living up to expectations, vacation scheme and approachability of supervisors. Opinions differed on the work/life balance – some trainees appreciate working shorter hours than those of US firms, without having to compromise on work quality, whilst others consider the hours ‘longer than other City firms’. ‘Only realising after signing that I was missing some signatures’ and ‘two all-nighters in a row to complete a deal’ were not pleasurable experiences. Travers’ medium size means that ‘you feel like you have an identity and can get to know the faces around you’. Another major plus point is the ‘lack of pressure on billable hours targets and more focus on outcome performance indicators’. On the other hand, ‘the corporate department acting as a separate kingdom with very different fee-earner behaviour and hours expectations as compared with other departments’ was commented upon. It was also noted that ‘qualification options are corporate-heavy’. Whilst the ‘styles of working can vary hugely by department, what doesn’t change is the friendly and collegiate environment’. In terms of best moments, ‘prepping former CEOs of major companies for appearance in the High Court’ and ‘getting to complete work which is headline news!’ were hard to beat. For a ‘career which tends to be longer than at the average City firm’, look into Travers Smith.

A day in the life of… Megan Law, trainee, Travers Smith LLP

Megan Law, Travers Smith LLP

Departments to date: Corporate finance and employment

University: Kingston University

Degree: Law

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 associate I share a room with are both in the office. We all catch up on what we did the night before while making our morning coffees in the communal kitchen. I have a service agreement mark up to review from yesterday and I discuss a few questions with the senior associate who has reviewed my draft.

10.00am: Another associate has asked for my help to draft a settlement agreement for one of our clients. The associate outlines the specific details of the agreement that we currently know. I have previously helped draft a few of these agreements, so I ask the associate for clarification on a couple of wider points. After my discussion with the associate, I am ready to start drafting the agreement.

11.30am: I share my first draft of the settlement 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 trainees. We all meet outside the office and walk to the pasta bar conveniently located around the corner from the office.

1.45pm: When I return to my desk, I receive feedback from the associate on the settlement agreement. The associate is impressed with my draft and explains the rationale behind the changes she has suggested. I reach out to the corporate department for their assistance on a specific part of the settlement agreement. Once I have received input from the corporate department, I send the settlement agreement to the client for their review.

3.00pm: I have a client meeting later this afternoon to discuss an ongoing grievance process. I prepare for this call by reviewing the recent questions we have received from the client. In addition, I consider what further points need to be discussed on the call.

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 our meeting rooms.

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 graduate recruitment event this evening.

6.00pm: Graduate recruitment have organised a networking event for prospective trainees. This evening is a great opportunity to meet with students, discuss the application process and the training contract. It is also an opportunity to catch up with the graduate recruitment team. 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: David Patient

Other offices: Our international strategy has resulted in over 50% of our work now having a multi-jurisdictional aspect and in any year we will typically work with over 150 foreign law firms from around the world. So you will certainly get involved in international matters.

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, financial services and private equity clients, as well as other business enterprises involved in large and complex UK and cross-border matters, transactions and disputes.

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

What we’re looking for: We’ll give you responsibility from day one. 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 – just over half the trainees who joined last year came from a non-law background.

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 client contact, and the responsibility that goes with it, from day one. During the two-year training contract, trainees spend six months in our corporate department 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 departments.

Perks: 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.

Diversity and inclusion and corporate social responsibility

Our market-leading diversity and CSR programmes are bold, exciting and ever expanding. Creating an inclusive workplace where people can be themselves and reach their full potential is a key business priority for Travers Smith. Our focus on diversity and social responsibility is integral to how we serve our clients, develop our people and play a leadership role in our communities.

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: City Parents, Educating Matters, Stonewall, The Women’s Sport Trust, InterLaw, myGwork, City Horizons, Aspiring Solicitors, Rare Recruitment, and JustLikeUs.

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; and
  • Prospects.

Pro bono

Our award winning pro bono programme is designed to give individuals and organisations, both at home and abroad, the opportunity to access levels of legal advice that would not normally be obtainable. Highlights include:

  • Refugees at Home;
  • Stonewall;
  • Giving Time;
  • Legal Advice Centres;
  • A4ID; and
  • Brighter Futures Zambia.

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.

Vacation scheme insider

George Crummack, first-seat trainee in investment funds.

University: Oxford

Degree: History

Why I applied for the TS vac scheme

City law was a good fit with my degree and the skills I honed at university. I hoped that law would enable me to pursue a career in business and the commercial world while maintaining an intellectual element to my work. Equally, unsure of what I wanted to do, I thought the training would provide a solid grounding for a corporate career, whatever that might be post-qualification.

Such a career choice also meant that during and after two years of law school, completing the GDL and LPC, I had the chance to travel extensively and undertake a commercial role in financial technology for six months. Few graduate career choices provide such flexibility while receiving maintenance payments and having a secure job at the end!

I attended a Travers Smith open evening in Oxford and thought that the people seemed the most down to earth, friendly and interesting people out of the firms I had come across. This perception was vindicated during the vacation scheme and throughout my training contract so far. Also important to me when applying was Travers’ reputation for excellent training, as well as its top-tier corporate work and clients.

Work and departments

I spent a week sat in both the corporate finance (now CME) and employment departments. Although the two-week scheme was full of talks and events, I also had the opportunity to be involved in several work matters, working with and getting to know lawyers from trainee to partnership level.

The unique room sharing system meant that I chatted to people at the firm of all levels from the first day – this is not often the case at many City firms, something easy to forget among all the law fairs, presentations and open days where many firms can sound similar to one another!

Highlight(s) of the scheme

The people. I genuinely enjoyed meeting and talking to people at every level in the firm during the scheme. It was a very sociable couple of weeks – whether beating partners at ping-pong or doing karaoke, everyone was friendly and didn’t take themselves too seriously. This was important to me and one of the things which convinced me that Travers would be a great place to work.

Impressions of culture of firm

As mentioned above, it was the sociability and genuineness of the people at the firm which impressed upon me the most. This is pervasive among both lawyers and all the support staff. While a number of City firms can boast high-quality work and top clients, few encourage such non-hierarchical working and social interaction between people at all levels in the firm. The way you work as a lawyer already facilitates this – on the vacation scheme I was always in a room with at least a partner and two associates. Often, lawyers might also sit with a trainee, business development or knowledge lawyers. Not only is this beneficial workwise, but it creates a relaxed and varied working atmosphere.

Any social events attended

There were social events pretty much every day of the vacation scheme and there is a fair number on offer as a trainee – it was great to have a chance to meet and talk to people across the firm throughout the scheme at all these events. Also, I managed to attend lots more of these socials as a future trainee from 2016-2019. Personally, I enjoy any chance to eat and drink any of the produce prepared by the Travers Smith kitchen team – it is always delicious!