Survey Results - Trainee feedback on Trethowans LLP

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

Why did you choose this firm over any others? ‘Trethowans was held in such high regard and stood out’; ‘previously worked at this firm in my summer holidays while at university’; ‘small intake of trainees’; ‘location and training’; ‘I liked that the firm wasn’t only interested in your academic grades’; ‘everyone was really friendly and welcoming during the assessment day’

Best thing about the firm? ‘Excellent work/life balance’; ‘the open-plan offices reduce any hierarchical feel between support staff, trainees, associates, partners’; ‘office socials’; ‘no face-time culture’; ‘the firm really stands by its cultural values and is dedicated to the staff as well as the clients’

Worst thing about the firm? ‘Trainee remuneration could be higher to match other local regional firms’; ‘the seat allocation process’; ‘the offices are quite spread out and you don’t always have the opportunity to go to all the offices and meet everyone’; ‘there could be more social events’

Best moment? ‘Being treated like a solicitor and given work appropriate to my level of ability’; ‘attending an inquest by myself’; ‘being trusted to handle caseloads which gave me a real insight into how to manage workloads and a real confidence boost’; ‘being given responsibility’

Worst moment? ‘Having no real knowledge on matters but trying to figure out solutions’; ‘the semi-compulsory seat in private client’; ‘the Poole office’; ‘realising that the area of law I had wanted to do since I started university wasn’t actually for me’; ‘making silly mistakes’

The Lex 100 verdict on Trethowans LLP

The firm: Trethowans is a leading law firm in the south of England providing a comprehensive range of services for business and individual clients. On the commercial side, it represents international and national household brand names, owner-managed businesses, entrepreneurs and major regional employers across the UK. Other clients include landowners, entrepreneurs, local families, property developers and trustees amongst others.

The deals: Advised on the management buyout of R&M Electrical Limited to R&M Electrical Holdings Limited involving overseas subsidiaries; acted for Santander UK plc in amending and restating its loan portfolio with a luxury hotel group, to support the acquisition and renovation of two new hotels. Value over £29m; advised on the first registration project of mines and minerals for British Gypsum Limited and various associated companies; advised on the sale of the entire issued share capital of Sealock Limited to Follman (GmbH); acted for Golden Wolf group on an investment by Psyop.

The clients: Bacardi Martini; Britvic; Chelsea FC; Five Guys; James Hay Pension Trustees; Ladbrokes; Lloyds Bank plc; Nandos; R&M Electrical Holdings Limited; Saint-Gobain.

The star performers:
(Top-ranking departments according to The Legal 500 – see legal500.com for more details) Agriculture and estates; Banking and finance; Clinical negligence: claimant; Commercial property; Corporate and commercial; Debt recovery; Employment; Family; Insolvency and corporate recovery; Licensing; Personal injury: claimant; Personal injury: defendant; Personal tax, trusts and probate; Property litigation

The verdict

Survey respondents praised Trethowans for its ‘great culture and the high level of responsibility’ the firm affords new recruits. Trainees ‘liked that Trethowans was ‘interested in candidates for their personalities’ and ‘really encouraged a work/life balance’. Respondents welcomed the autonomy they received and felt as if they had ‘the opportunity to add real value for clients across all seats’. At Trethowans you are exposed to a ‘great variety of work’ which is made enjoyable by ‘seat preferences being taken into consideration’. Trainees agree that the ‘work/life balance is excellent with no one expecting you to stay later if there’s no reason to and partners telling you to go home if you’re there too late’. The ‘friendly culture’ is encouraged by the open-plan offices which ‘work to reduce any hierarchical feel and allow you to socialise with people outside of your team’. However, many respondents felt that ‘remuneration could be higher to match other local regional firms’. ‘Being trusted to travel to the Isle of Wight alone to interview a number of key individuals’, ‘attending a four-day hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice’ and ‘being given the responsibility of a fee earner’s matters whilst they were on annual leave’ made trainees feel confident and valued. In contrast, ‘completing court bundles late on a Monday evening before a trial’ and ‘dealing with an unhappy client’ were more challenging moments. If a firm which ‘really stands by its cultural values and is dedicated to its staff as well as its clients’ is a good fit for you, take a closer look at Trethowans.

A day in the life of… Gerrard Tin, trainee, Trethowans LLP

Gerrard Tin, Trethowans LLP

Departments to date: secondment to Meridian Corporate Finance; private client; commercial property; commercial litigation; banking

University: University College London Faculty of Laws

Degree: LLB Laws, 2(1)

8.50am: I typically arrive before 9.00 for coffee and porridge while I check the daily new matters list and business news from various sources: our clients value commerciality and an awareness of the macro environment. The day then starts with a review of what needs to be achieved. Flexibility is required as priorities change in reaction to, or anticipation of, deal cycles, but I like to be as organised as possible.

9.30am: As a trainee, you can be involved in a deal at various levels depending on what stage it is at and how much value you can add. With experience, you can start to pick up document drafting and you will begin to anticipate what needs to be done throughout the life cycle of the deal. Even if you can’t assist with the document drafting, you can add value in other ways: for example, offering to handle ongoing liaison with overseas lawyers or managing a data room or document signing process.

11.00am: Research notes are often requested when a difficult point of law arises and lawyers in the team need a note to support a course of action. I take pride in meticulous detail and always provide a ‘bottom line up front’ (each aspect of my research contains a conclusion and these can be front-loaded to save the reader from digesting the detail).

12.30pm: Transactional work generates various mark-ups of documents throughout the negotiation of their terms. Reviewing proposed amendments is easiest using a comparison, and when one arrives I like to see which points have been accepted and where the remaining friction lies. Lawyers add value for their clients by making the documentation fit the agreed objectives: commercial lawyers are highly prized for their ability to focus on pertinent points and not dwell on immateriality.

1.00pm: Occasionally we do team or even office lunches out, but if I have the time I like to go to the gym across the road. It refreshes the mind and sets me up for the afternoon ahead.

2.00pm: We are hosting the client for a page-turn of a facility agreement. We need to point out where the document gives the lender control and where we should push back so that the client can continue their ordinary business and isn’t stopped from achieving their growth plans. These meetings are always exciting because you must be ready to think on your feet and potentially draft an amendment on-the-spot: preparation has no substitute.

4.00pm: I check my notes from the meeting and prepare an actions list: this is a good discipline and helps you stay organised as the transaction gains momentum. I have previous corporate and banking experience and spent time on a highly intensive corporate finance secondment so I am conscious of the ebb and flow of deal pressures.

4.30pm: A research note I circulated earlier in the day relates to a new enquiry: we need to be clear on the terms of our engagement and the scope of a document we are being asked to prepare for the client. I make a quick call to check our instructions before confirming everything, including an indicative fee quotation by email.

6.00pm: A law firm is a business and trainees have plenty of opportunities to join in on various networking events, sometimes with other professionals and sometimes with clients. Being comfortable in a crowd is an essential skill and good hosting is always appreciated

About the firm

Managing partner: Chris Whiteley

Other offices: Salisbury, Poole, Bournemouth, Winchester

Who we are: A leading, full-service law firm based in the South with a team of over 240 including 45 partners and over 90 lawyers.

What we do: On the commercial side we represent international and national household brand names, owner-managed businesses, entrepreneurs and major regional employers across the UK. For individuals we represent landowners, entrepreneurs, local families, property developers and trustees among others.

What we’re looking for: Bright, enthusiastic and ambitious individuals who can make a positive contribution to the firm. We aim to provide a satisfying and rewarding career.

What you’ll do: Trainees usually undertake four separate seats, each lasting six months. Trainees work closely with their supervisor and are considered an integral part of the team from day one.

Perks: Incremental holiday entitlement up to 28 days, additional day for ‘birthday holiday’, contributory pension scheme, death in service benefit, health cash plan scheme, income protection scheme, performance-related bonus scheme, free car parking, staff recruitment referral scheme, employee assistance programme, retail discount scheme.

Sponsorship: Up to 50 % of LPC fees.