The Legal Cheek View
From October Bond Dickinson and US-based Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice will combine to form Womble Bond Dickinson. The firm will have more than 420 partners and 1,000 lawyers across eight offices in the UK and 15 offices in the US. The combination will put Womble Bond Dickinson in the UK’s top 20 and in the top 80 in the US listings. The transatlantic tie-up supplements Bond Dickinson's alliance with German firm Redeker Sellner Dahs.
One of the most pleasant law firms to work for, what Bond Dickinson lacks in pay – newly qualified rates vary according to location, but are in the regional rather than top City of London range – it makes up for in culture. "The door is always open" to partners' rooms, while another insider tells us that "I feel like I could go to anyone at the firm if needs be". Meanwhile, hours are very reasonable – expect to be out of the door by 6:30pm on most days, with "no pressure to stay for the sake of it".
A real effort is apparently made to give trainees more challenging tasks alongside the inevitable less glamorous stuff, with reports reaching us that, "there is always the opportunity to get involved with more 'juicy' work if you ask for it and show willing".
With a wide-ranging practice that boasts high levels of industry expertise in areas like energy, transport & infrastructure and chemicals & manufacturing, Bond Dickinson rookies have the opportunity to develop careers in some of the more interesting areas of corporate law. Other strengths include retail, real estate, financial institutions, private wealth and insurance. The merger with Womble Carlyle will add additional specialisms in areas including healthcare, life sciences and technology.
Much of what you do depends on where you are based, with the firm's Aberdeen office known for its links with the oil industry, Newcastle for its market-leading rail practice and Bristol and London recognised for strength in banking work. The latter office is particularly fancy, with gorgeous views across The Thames from its South Bank location, while the Newcastle Quayside office is one of the city's most swish locations.
Perk-wise, Bond Dickinson performs solidly rather than spectacularly, with gym discounts and subsidised canteens in some of the offices (be warned that Leeds has no canteen). But the social life is reportedly great fun in some locations, with socials taking place every six weeks. Typical nights out include bowling, cricket, crazy golf and pub crawls.