After a tough spell which saw revenues fall for three consecutive years, Ince & Co has turned the corner this year with a 16% turnover rise. The newly restructured firm now has a new target in mind, making no secret that it is in the market for a merger. This year it publicly confirmed that it had met a number of outfits, including Hill Dickinson, to discuss combining.
Nothing has come of these discussions so far. But the principle underlying them – to forge a tie-up with a rival also operating in the insurance law and shipping space – could well yield results in 2017-18.
These practice areas have been hit by a number of factors of late, including greater commoditisation of work and the low oil price. A sense of the squeeze can be seen in Ince & Co’s newly qualified (NQ) pay rates, which are now towards the lower end of the corporate law market. A carefully calibrated rise in August 2017 saw NQ pay reach £63,250.
The upside of working in shipping is that the hours tend to be less than in areas like corporate finance. According to the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer 2017-18, Ince & Co has an average arrive in the office time of 8:58am and a leave the office time of 7pm. Nevertheless, one rookie complained to us of “regular long hours”.
Another shipping quirk is that it’s one of the most male-dominated areas of law, and this is reflected in Ince & Co’s partner diversity figures – just 15% are female, despite 63% of associates being women.
While starting your career at any big City law firm is going to set trainees up well for their future careers, it seems that Ince & Co could do a bit better when it comes to training. The firm scores a lowly C for this category in this year’s survey. Complaints centre around the preference for formal sessions rather than on-the-job training, which is apparently a bit lacking.
Other aspects of the trainee experience are pretty standard – the work varies, often featuring “a lot of admin tasks”, while peers “are supportive if you’re struggling and you ask for help”. Most partners are approachable, but there are a few “who are difficult”.
Rookies have a decent chance of doing an international secondment; a quarter spending time abroad with the firm. With the firm boasting 12 offices in eight different countries, there are some decent options including Monaco, Hong Kong and Greek port city Piraeus. Client secondments are similarly fairly widely available, mostly to the firm’s insurance company clients.
Another plus is the new office, in the Aldgate Tower, which trainees like and describe as “very functional and modern”. Apparently the canteen is very good too, although its modern dishes are not everyone’s cup of tea. “EVERYTHING HAS SODDING AVOCADOS IN IT!” complains one Ince trainee. Monthly drinks on the terrace would be delightful if more people attended.