The Legal Cheek View
As major London law firms go, there are few more delightful places to work than Bristows. The firm, which is well known for its market-leading intellectual property practice, scored A*s in a whopping five categories of the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey. For training, quality of work, peer support, partner approachability and work/life balance, Bristows is pretty much as good as you get.
Insiders rave particularly about the quality of work, which extends from IP to other sexy areas like technology, media and communications. Clients include Google, The Guardian and the BBC. Other not quite so glamorous practice areas, such as corporate, litigation and real estate, help bring in the bacon...
And the mix of work has helped Bristows boost revenue by 12% to over £38 million, a very impressive 58% rise over the last five years. This breaks down to give a profit per equity partner figure just shy of £400,000. Certainly, Bristows’ top dogs, who enjoy some of the best work/life balance in the legal world, have a rather nice set up.
This may explain why a mood of happiness pervades the firm, with magic circle-style backstabbing notably absent among the trainees, and senior lawyers maintaining the most open of open door policies. Also contributing to the utopian vibes may be Bristows’ policy of paying associates entirely on the basis of seniority rather than perceived merit.
Still, not everything is perfect. As you might imagine for a firm with just one office, international secondment opportunities are rare (although trainees and junior lawyers do get the odd business trip). Nor are there loads of eye-catching perks (aside from being able to skip out of the office at 6pm most days). And the money is on the low side for BigLaw, with NQs pulling in just £58,000. Oh, and Bristows’ impressive office on Victoria Embankment at the edge of the City has no canteen.
If you can tolerate such horrors, then this could be the place for you. The only problem is bagging a training contract: the firm offers just ten annually and, with IP work in mind, several of those often go to candidates with science PhDs.