The Legal Cheek View
Slightly removed from the City of London, with a strong presence in Cambridge and particular expertise in sexy areas like tech and life sciences, Mills & Reeve has a donnish image that attracts students seeking an alternative to global megafirm life.
Trainees at the firm are split between its offices in Birmingham, Manchester, Norwich and the aforementioned Cambridge, but frequently spend time in London and Leeds too. They benefit from some of the better levels of work/life balance among large commercial law firms and a friendly culture that partially makes up for the rather low rookie salaries (see below). But perhaps the biggest sell to potential new recruits is the quality of work, which is rated excellent in the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey.
As usual with firms that have several UK offices, there are occasional tensions between the locations – at the moment we understand that the adjustable desks found exclusively in the Cambridge and London offices (which are both fairly shiny and new) are generating murmurings from elsewhere.
There are no in-house swimming pools or sushi chefs at Mills & Reeve, but the perks are good, with sweeteners instead focusing largely around the social side (which has apparently "increased a lot with the expansion of the paralegal support team"). There are also extra holidays that can be bought. What's more, you can "actually use them – even as a trainee", reports one insider. But don't expect much from the coffee, with "a tub of Nescafe instant" all that is on offer at most of the offices, which largely lack canteens. Nor is this entirely England-based firm the place to be for international secondments, obviously.
Recent financial results show Mills & Reeve to be progressing steadily, with revenue growth this year of 7% that has seen the firm reach a record turnover of £87.2 million. Profit per equity partner is not disclosed, but is understood to sit at over the £300,000 mark. There can be few pleasanter places to pull in such cash.