Blake Morgan is a real smorgasbord of a law firm, with a frankly dizzying list of interests ranging from asbestos claims to Welsh public law. Sprawling across South-East England and South Wales, with offices in Cardiff, London, Oxford, Portsmouth, Reading and Southampton, the firm offers a broad mix of practice areas and a client base spanning businesses, charities, public sector bodies and private individuals. Blake Morgan also prides itself on its community spirit, which lawyers have time to pitch in with thanks to manageable working hours.
The firm hasn’t released recent financial figures but it has been reported that in the past few years profit per equity partner has grown to around £250,000. We can expect Blake Morgan to take a temporary financial hit like many firms during the COVID-19 affected 2020 financial year.
New recruits at Blake Morgan can look forward to “fantastic support from NQs to partners” and “excellent supervision and great exposure to a variety of work”, although some foot soldiers are entertainingly disgruntled, articulating the usual trainee grumbles about the seat allocation process.
The same correspondent goes on to tell us that “my seat supervisors have all been great and very responsive”. Of the firm’s 130 partners, “the majority are extremely approachable and inclusive”. Another insider reports that there are “some standard admin trainee tasks but in general the work is varied and interesting”. We hear particularly good things about the quality of work in the construction team. One trainee tells us that the construction team “has excellent, varied and challenging work. You are given a lot of responsibility as a trainee”, although the trade-off is that it’s one of the few seats to occasionally require long hours. On the whole, though, this is as close to a 9-5 as you’ll hope to get in the legal biz.
As one trainee tells us about pre-pandemic times: “I stayed in the office until 20:30 once, because I had been at a meeting in London and needed to write up a report when I got back. There are occasions where you may stay until 19:00 or 19:30 if your team is particularly busy, but it is not regular. Other than that, I’m pretty much always out of the door before 18:00 and have never ever been expected to work over a weekend.”
Law grads all too well acquainted with the stimulant effects of caffeine may be interested in Blake Morgan’s work advising Costa on franchising. Other clients include the Welsh Government, Oxfam and HSBC — this really is the epitome of a “full service” outfit. The firm also boasts “the largest professional regulatory team in England and Wales”, representing the likes of the Solicitors Regulatory Authority and Bar Standards Board.
Recruitment is regional, so aspiring lawyers can apply to any of Blake Morgan’s five offices for the 10-15 training contracts available, but are well advised to check that they’ll be able to do a particular seat at a given office: not every training opportunity is necessarily available in each location and the firm admits that “first-year trainee seats are often selected through business need”. Whilst the opportunities for international secondments are lacking, Blake Morgan makes up for this with its client secondments with trainees posted to the likes of Deutsche Bank and Cardiff University. Although, we’re told that secondments are only available to those based in London, which along with Southampton and Cardiff takes the most new grads. The capital city base is in the City, off Fetter Lane, and the Welsh office in the aptly named Central Square, but the Southampton premises are really in Eastleigh and if you’re looking for a more glamorous location for the start of your legal career the Oxford office in Seacourt Tower might not be for you as one insider tell us ‘Seacourt Tower … leaves plenty to be desired’.
Given this variety, it’s hard to read too much into the trainee ratings on the likes of canteen, office facilities and social life — that’ll vary depending on where trainees land up. But Blake Morganites seem to get on fine irrespective of location.
Perks are mostly standard, including Bupa health insurance although coffee lovers should note that the coffee is only “your typical instant gold blend”. The most interesting perk is that trainees get their birthday off as annual leave. Hard luck for anyone born on 29 February, of course. There are, reportedly, some frustrations with the technology but “improvements are being made” and it’s “an average law firm in this regard”.