After a difficult 2016, which saw falls in profit per equity partner (PEP) and revenue, Ashurst appears to be back on track. This year the firm announced a return to form, with PEP recovering by nearly 12% to hit £672,000 while revenue rose 7% to £541 million. There’s a newfound buzz around the place, heightened by excitement at the firm’s forthcoming to move into a fancy new office in the Spitalfields area of the City of London in 2019. “I’ve heard great things about the new building!” one trainee tells us.
Although Ashurst now sits within the global megafirm bracket following its 2012 merger with Australian outfit Blake Dawson – which has given it a major presence in Asia – in London its ‘silver circle’ roots remain. To translate the jargon: Ashurst has a strong finance speciality built around a slightly gentler culture to a magic circle firm.
That helps to support A-grade training and, once you are ready to handle it, desirable work. Trainees report being “rarely given dogsbody work” and often being “given a high level of responsibility”. But also note that “ironically, in the more technical departments the work can be less stimulating”. The firm’s Glasgow office is on hand, though, to do much of the volume work.
Work/life balance is better than at the more intensive City and US firms, with a reasonable average leave time of just after half past seven. “You rarely have to cancel plans,” reports an insider. Another trainee summarises their experience like this: “I play a lot of sport (organised on Tuesdays and Wednesdays after work) and take the hit on other evenings if need be. My superiors encourage me to leave the office as soon as I can (work permitting), which is encouraging. Some days can be long though and I’ve had a few bad Friday evenings, which is never fun. I haven’t worked any weekends though.”
Decent scores for social life in the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2017-18, alongside a “very supportive” peer group add to the largely happy vibes. A social committee organises regular meet-ups for lunch in the summer and weekend drinks and rounders games. Other perks include gratis fro-yo after 6:30pm, complimentary membership (and entry) to institutions such as the British Museum, plus a subsidised canteen, cut price gym membership and “lots of biscuits”.
Meanwhile, in another sign that the Blake Dawson merger is being fully bedded in, trainees have been pleased to see international secondment numbers rise substantially this year – over a quarter have done one. Destinations include Frankfurt, Madrid, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore. There are also a small number of client secondments, including to some of Ashurst’s esteemed banking clients such as Goldman Sachs.