There is a buzz around Bird & Bird right now, as the technology-focused firm rides the wave of a boom in the sector. Profit per equity partner is up for a second consecutive year, jumping by 11% to £503,000, while revenue has risen 6% to £273.8 million. Recent work highlights include advising the European Commission and UK government on changes to data protection regulations and acting for Nokia on its patent dispute with Apple.
The growth has coincided with the firm’s move into a gleaming new London office on 12 New Fetter Lane. Trainees tell us that it is generally “awesome”, with client rooms that are “a sight to behold”. In the main area the optional standing desks particularly impress. The jewel in the crown is a canteen with a “wonderful view” of the City. It is said to serve “excellent munch”, including “excellent cooked or non-cooked breakfasts, and “a good range of salads and vegetarian food”. There’s also free barista-made coffee.
The nice position that Bird & Bird finds itself in is no piece of good fortune. In the early days of the internet, it became one of the first law firms to establish its own website, choosing the quirky domain name twobirds.com way back in 1995. Since then it has built out from its core of telecommunications, media and technology (TMT) work to widen its focus towards more standard corporate and finance instructions.
Over the years Bird & Bird has taken care to foster a strong internal culture – and this year scores A*s for both peer support and approachability in the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2017-18. “Our trainee cohort are more a group of friends than colleagues,” we are told, while apparently hierarchies are minimal and the out of work social scene is “pretty good” (although some say it “used to be better”).
The legendary mini firm World Cup football tournament that Bird & Bird runs is great for bonding. The competition between teams from the firm’s international offices is held in a different city each year. As you would expect, the footie is optional, with most just enjoying the opportunity to “meet international colleagues over a weekend of partying”. This year’s event was held in The Hague.
An area where there is some room for improvement is secondment opportunities. Some trainees hoped for a few more now that Bird & Bird has offices in 18 different countries. We hear that one lucky rookie made it to Sydney for three months, while there have been a few decent UK-based client secondments, but there’s not much beyond that. Bird & Bird’s seeks instead to keep rookies within the firm while they are starting out. Most of the instruction is of a very high standard, although beware that some larger teams are “very heavily admin based [which] can be frustrating.” The pay also elicits the odd grumble, but most trainees understand that you can’t get A*-rated work/life balance, clocking off on average just after 7pm, and earn MoneyLaw salaries. Still, associate pay rises swiftly through the ranks for those who stick around.