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 diverse client base of 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 has seen turnover drop 13% from £71.2 million to £61.7 million due to a number of reasons, including the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the sale of its personal injury and clinical negligence practice to Enable Law in the summer of 2020. Despite the dip in revenues, profit per equity partner (PEP) held firm at £250,000.
New recruits at Blake Morgan can look forward to colleagues who are “friendly and approachable and willing to help trainees” as well as “some very interesting work” to boot. However, early responsibility means the environment can be challenging with trainees “expected to make a meaningful contribution to their team’s workload from the get-go”.
There is reportedly a “flat hierarchy in every team”, with trainees commenting that friendliness is “the common thread throughout Blake Morgan”. Though there are some who testify to a more varied experience regarding approachability, the overall impression is that the firm is a pretty positive and inclusive working environment.
In terms of work/life balance, Blake Morgan seems fairly good for a full service law firm. The underlying approach is, as we are told: “If you are reasonable and do the work you need to get done, you’ll have no issues at all”. As tends to be the case, working hours vary between departments. We are told that construction and environment and planning are particularly demanding departments. Another comments: “Some seats are 9-5 whilst others creep to a more 9-8pm pattern. I have had to work the occasional weekend, and have had a few late nights, with 2am finishes in some seats but in others I am consistently logged out by 5.30pm.”.
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.
Perks are mostly standard, including Bupa health insurance and dress down Fridays, although caffeine 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. Working from home setups also seem fairly standard, with one trainee commenting: “You get a laptop, with two desktop screens at home currently. I am not sure how long this will continue though as many of us took our office setups home at the start of the pandemic”. In terms of legal technology more generally, trainees tell us there is “room for improvement” but also “some good AML etc. tech”.
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 advised to check that they’ll be able to do a particular seat at a given office. This is because not every training opportunity is necessarily available everywhere and the firm admits that “first-year trainee seats are often selected through business need”. Whilst opportunities for international secondments are lacking, Blake Morgan makes up for this with client secondments. Trainees are sent off to the likes of Deutsche Bank, Nursing and Midwifery Council and Investec, although, we’re told that secondments are only available to those based in London which, along with Southampton and Cardiff, takes the most grads.
The firm’s London base is in the City, off Fetter Lane, the Welsh office is 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 put it, “Seacourt Tower … leaves plenty to be desired”. This may change in the future though, as trainees told Legal Cheek that the Oxford office is due to go through a refurb.
Given this variety, it’s hard to read too much into the overall trainee ratings — that’ll vary depending on where trainees land up. But overall, the firm seems to give a good balance of work/life balance, interesting work and support.