The Legal Cheek View

Good quality work coupled with a great work/life balance and rapid expansion makes Birketts an attractive option for young lawyers looking beyond the City. The full-service law firm has offices across the East of England — Cambridge, Chelmsford, Ipswich, Norwich, and the recently added Sevenoaks — as well as a small hub in London. Each year Birketts takes between 20-25 trainees across its six offices, nearly doubling their intake in the last three years. Recruits undertake seats in the firm’s four core practice areas: corporate and commercial, dispute resolution, property, and private client, each encompassing a broad spectrum of specialisms for both businesses and individuals.

Birketts has a growing headcount with 111 partners, up from 70 three years ago, and 1,000 staff across the country. The most recent financial stats show an impressive £84.8 million revenue, up 10% on last year and marking the fourth consecutive year of growth for the outfit. This impressive growth can be accounted for by internal promotions, over 60 for associates and 13 for partners in the past year, as well as recent mergers with London insurance boutique EC3 Legal in 2020, and Kent and London based Batchelors Solicitors in 2023.

In spite of this significant growth in work, up a whopping 68% in client numbers in the past year, partners, associates, and trainees say the firm has maintained its friendly atmosphere. “As cliché as it may sound, I think it would be seriously hard to find another law firm with a friendlier bunch of people” states one happy beneficiary of the “supportive culture”. What’s more, with a “non-hierarchical” structure and “friendly and approachable seniors”, the growing group appears harmonious at all levels.

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While international and client secondments may not be on offer, trainees are given the opportunity to travel around offices, and rave about the quality of training regardless. “The firm provide a brilliant training contract format made up of interesting work and social events. During your training contract you acquire skills that set you up for qualification. They ensure you are a valued member of the firm from the second you join,” bragged one mole. Others emphasise the responsibility and opportunities they are given within a supportive environment, and one packed with networking and social events.

Both during and after formal training the work/life balance is a major attraction of the firm. With no face-time culture, lawyers are generally out the door by 6pm, with trainees reporting that partners often tell them to go home if they’re at their desk past 5:30pm. The trade-off for good hours is the £27,500 – £31,000 starting salary, rising to £48,000 – £65,000 depending on location on qualification — a far cry from the hefty City pay packets, but still fairly decent for legal life in the regions.

As for the work itself, trainees report high levels of responsibility, and more hands-on, complex, work that was expected. While the mix of work inevitably varies between departments, trainees are generally pleased with the tasks that they’re given. One trainee sums it up for us: “Overall the work given is stimulating but with a bit of admin thrown in”, with another insider adding “we aren’t stuck in a dark room to shift through disclosure for months on end”. Not all work is so far from City life, however, with one newbie noting that the deals are “usually pretty good for a regional level”. If advising leading European property investment firm M7 Real Estate Ltd on the sale of a £62m portfolio, or EO Charging, a forerunner in the electric vehicle charging field, on their $80 million (£62.3 million) equity raise isn’t pretty good, we don’t know what is! Beyond bringing in the money, trainees and juniors are encouraged to engage in pro bono work, the firm as a whole racking up 755 hours last year.

Moving on to perks. While the firm offers the standard private healthcare and subsidised gym membership, one spy tells us that “as a trainee there are very few perks available but as you progress you obtain a few more”. This includes accrued holiday linked to length of service, although we’re told that this doesn’t take into account time spent at the firm working as a paralegal or trainee which has led to some disappointment. There isn’t any experimental innovation in the legal tech department either cites one trainee, although in all the mood is satisfied, albeit not blown away.

Rookies have, however, been uplifted by the investment into office spaces post-pandemic. Whilst juniors are clear that, whatever is done, “it’s still an office building”, recent moves in London and the headquarters in Ipswich, along with a renovation of the Chelmsford office, have gone down well. This is particularly good news with trainees being expected to attend the office full time. Whilst even after the pandemic home working is facilitated, it is clear that at the trainee and junior level in-person interaction is valued, and mandated, feeding into the firm’s community culture, and aiding learning.

Outside of the office, Birketts is keen in its charitable endeavours. Marathons, walks, sky-dives, sleepouts, and bike rides are never far around the corner, the firm looking to give back to the regional communities in which it thrives.

Insider Scorecard

Quality of work
Peer support
Partner approach-ability
Work/life balance
Legal tech

Insider Scorecard Grades range from A* to D and are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2023-24 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK.


First year trainee salary £31,000
Second year trainee salary £32,000
Newly qualified salary £65,000
Profit per equity partner £425,000

The above figures are for London. Year one trainees in Ipswich and Norwich earn £27,500, rising to £28,500 year two. Trainees in Chelmsford and Cambridge earn £28,500 and £29,500. Newly qualified associates earn £46,000 in Ipswich and Norwich and £50,000 in Chelmsford and Cambridge.


Average start work time 08:46
Average finish time 17:49

Average arrive and leave times are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2023-24 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK.


Chances of secondment abroad 0%
Chances of client secondment 0%

Secondment probabilities are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2023-24 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK.

General Info

Training contracts 25
Offices 6
Countries 1

The firm offers between 20-25 training contracts each year.

The Firm In Its Own Words