There is a real buzz around Mishcon de Reya at the moment. And whether it’s Brexiteers picketing the firm’s fancy new London office (Mishcon led the high profile challenge against the invoking of Article 50), or celebrity clients getting papped as they stop by for a bit of high value legal advice, this clever little practice always manages to find itself in the limelight. Perhaps more importantly, Mishcon has posted another year of excellent financial results, with revenue up by 17% to £149.4 million – which means that the firm’s turnover has, incredibly, doubled since 2012. Profit per equity partner, meanwhile, is up 10% to £1.1 million. The mood, as you would imagine, is pretty good.
Everywhere you look at the firm there is investment. This year the big story has been technology, with Mishcon launching a high profile start-up incubator – branded ‘MDR LAB’ – where six up-and-coming lawtech start-ups are now housed. Of the venture, one trainee tells us: “Some members of the Lab even write on the walls Silicon Valley style.”
So quickly has the firm moved on this high profile innovation venture that its internal systems have struggled to keep up. “While we have a lot of initiatives for getting the most out of tech I feel that there are changes that could be made to update day-to-day technology such as printers, scanners and adobe pro,” another rookie discloses. There are also grumbles about time recording and email filing systems. But apparently moves are afoot improve firm-wide IT.
Tech-pioneer teething troubles aside, Mishcon performs impressively in the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2017-18. Training is a particular strong point. It begins with an “excellent” induction and is followed by “intense training in each department at the start of each seat”. The work that Mishcon kids cut their teeth on is so good that one tells us that “I am excited to come into work”. Another adds: “As your TC progresses, you realise that you are routinely doing tasks that would previously have taken you days – and you are given the leeway to do this.”
If there is a downside it’s some of the supervision. “There’s a lot of exposure to great work but some lawyers are too busy to review the work you submit,” reports another insider. Happily, the support from peers is very good. “Some departments are like a giant group hug,” we are told.
Another Mishcon high point is the aforementioned new office in Holborn, which is feted as “completely incredible”. Entry is via a kind of avant garde cocktail bar, where clients can grab themselves sushi and martinis while they wait. Coffee is served, slightly bafflingly, via an iPad.
Work-wise, Mishcon’s twin strengths are litigation and private client (hence the celebs). The firm’s smaller size – it has just two offices, in London and New York – gives it a different feel to a megafirm. The downside to the lack of a global footprint is minimal availability of secondments, although work trips are more common than at some firms. Client secondments are also not really a thing at Mishcon, which is a source of some regret to current trainees.
Expect to work hard, but not to the extreme extent of some City firms. According to this year’s Legal Cheek Survey, Mishcon has an average arrive time of 8:56am and an average leave time of 7:11pm. One trainee sums up what it’s like: “I have only had to cancel something when there is something super urgent happening and it is always worth it when working on something high profile.” Another adds: “The firm is great about not expecting you to be at your desk all hours of the night. But if you don’t look at your emails constantly and don’t login from home, there could be trouble. We need to be moving towards a more progressive working environment where targets are a thing of the past. We all work hard and should be trusted to continue to do so.”
Recently boosted to £67,000 for newly qualified solicitors, pay is largely seen as fair, while the perks are pretty generous. They include a subsidised bike purchase scheme, free private care, a decent gym allowance, “really good summer and Christmas parties” and regular talks from “respected and interesting speakers from inside and outside the law world”.