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The law firms with the friendliest trainees in Britain

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No Hunger Games vibes here

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It is one thing to bag a top training contract, quite another to mix and mingle with your fellow TC-baggers. Will your cohort be competitive or collaborative? Supportive or superior? Have your back or cut your throat? Few things are likely to make more of a difference to the quality of your working life than how your firm rates in this category.

Yes, it’s Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey results time again.

Having so far revealed the best employers for quality of work, training and hours in our survey of over 1,500 trainees and junior lawyers at nearly 60 top UK law firms, today we’re unveiling the outstanding performers in the vital category of peer supportiveness.

Without further ado, therefore, the nine firms which scored an A*, in no particular order, are … drum roll …

Dentons

If you think that the world’s largest law firm by headcount lacks the personal touch, then think again. Dentons’ tightly knit band of around 50 trainees (30 are being recruited this year into the firm’s London, Watford and Milton Keynes offices) are among the closest in Britain, bound together by quirky extra-curricular activities like pumpkin carving competitions and hiking weekends.

This self-described “great group” apparently “get on really well” — and can be regularly spotted around the pubs of Farringdon.

Read Dentons’ full Legal Cheek survey scorecard here.

Baker & McKenzie

Again, one of the world’s biggest law firms bucks expectations and comes up trumps for trainee and junior lawyer collegiality.

“A truly nice bunch throughout,” gushes one insider.

“Even during qualification I never felt anyone was wishing me to fail,” cascades another.

“I wouldn’t want to be a trainee anywhere else because we hire the best trainees!” bursts forth a third Baker rookie.

Phew! Legal Cheek understands that the peer supportiveness extends to the firm’s rather impressive social scene. The Blackfriar Pub is apparently “B&M HQ after 5:30pm on a Friday”, while the firm’s rookies are said to be “close to arranging a permanent trainee secondment to Book Club in Shoreditch”.

Read Baker & McKenzie’s full Legal Cheek survey scorecard here.

Osborne Clarke

The firm’s recent switch to a single trainee intake has apparently done wonders for integration, with regular after work meet-ups ensuring everyone gets to know each other. The ‘Friday Breakfast Club’ cements the bonds.

Other trainees are “lovely”, one tells us, with the gaps in geography between the firm’s offices in Bristol, Reading and London apparently proving no barrier to friendships. As one recent qualifier recalls: “My trainee intake across the three offices was relatively small, but we all got on well and kept in touch. When we qualified, we celebrated together with a meal out in London and we’re hoping to get together for drinks again soon.”

Read Osborne Clarke’s full Legal Cheek survey scorecard here.

Berwin Leighton Paisner

BLP insiders tell us that fellow trainees “are an amazing support network” and that “everyone is quite similar and extrovert” and “always ready to chat”. The vibe is said to be in “stark contrast” to some of the more cut-throat magic circle firms.

Could the exceptional closeness of Berwin Leighton Paisner’s trainees be related to the ‘Live Escape Rooms’ team-building session that the firm sends new recruits on?

Read Berwin Leighton Paisner’s full Legal Cheek survey scorecard here.

TLT

A firm that makes a virtue out of the high levels of responsibility that it gives to its trainees has managed to foster a culture of mutual supportiveness. “Everyone makes time to explain and answer questions,” one insider tells us.

A “very supportive” vibe is said to pervade TLT’s offices, with most juniors more than happy to take the time to sit with each other and discuss the work they’ve completed. Outside the office, the rookies can be found hanging out at Bristol Zoo — free entry to which is one of the firm’s top perks.

Read TLT’s full Legal Cheek survey scorecard here.

Travers Smith

Travers is on a great run right now, with its stellar growth since 2010 one of the corporate law success stories of the decade so far – and the mood of happiness has clearly trickled down to the trainees.

“People at Travers are great and [that’s] what makes so many people want to stay,” reports one happy Travers youth. The firm’s recent trainee retention rate percentages have been in the 90s, by the way.

The bonds are deepened through regular social events, including trips to the pub, visits to the Globe to see Shakespeare and ‘decathlon day outs’.

Read Travers Smith’s full Legal Cheek survey scorecard here.

Bristows

It’s no surprise that this firm is famously nice.

A policy of paying associates entirely on the basis of seniority rather than perceived merit sets the tone, as does Bristows’ admirable commitment to work-life balance. An upshot of this is one of the highest long term trainee retention rates in the business, and top marks in the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey.

Read Bristows’ full Legal Cheek survey scorecard here.

Trowers & Hamlins

Legal Cheek’s data scientists can’t be sure whether it’s the free breakfasts before 8:30am or the swanky new Manchester office that swung it, but Trowers trainees sure are smiling.

“A really good and friendly work environment” is how one insider describes the firm, which also scored very highly in the ‘quality of work’ category.

Perhaps, though, it’s simply astute graduate recruitment, with one Trowers rookie insisting that despite the many things going for the firm it’s ultimately “the people who make it!” Awww!

Read Trowers & Hamlins’ full Legal Cheek scorecard here.

Taylor Wessing

“Great intake,” says one TW rookie of their peers, summing up the prevailing sentiment of mutual friendship and admiration that pervades among trainees as they wander happily around the halls of 5 New Street Square.

Doubtless the firm’s top-rated training plays a part, with Taylor Wessing’s youngsters able to feel more relaxed than most on account of the open door policy and plentiful support on offer. “The trainees in my year and the year above are brilliant,” another Taylor Wessing insider tells us, continuing: “The great thing about moving departments is becoming friends with new trainees and they are always there for support.”

Read Taylor Wessing’s full Legal Cheek survey scorecard here.

The rest

This was not a stellar category for the magic circle firms, with none of them finishing in the top 20 and three of them (sparing blushes and mentioning no names) flirting with the relegation places. Having said that, none scored lower than a B. The main reason for the slightly disappointing grades was that peers seem to be less comrades and more competitors. As one magic circle insider put it: “Hmmm…. peers or competition?” And another: “Based on seats: 75% great, 25% genuinely awful. That 25% really killed it.”

You can access all of our law firm profiles through the Legal Cheek Most List.

If you would like to purchase a report containing a full breakdown of Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey results for your firm, benchmarked against the other participating firms and a custom selected group of peer firms, please contact Legal Cheek Research for more details.