Brabners has continued to grow from its northwest base, leaving a wake of impressive financial reports and happy juniors. From its humble Liverpudlian beginnings in 1815, the firm has now grown to include three more offices in Lancashire, Manchester, and, as of 2022, Leeds. Although the majority of this growth has been entirely organic, Brabners has recently been on the hunt for high-profile acquisitions, acquiring HRC Law in Manchester in 2019, and poaching a number of external partners from big names such as Shoosmiths and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner to bolster its successful IP, private client, and real estate teams. As for practice areas, Brabners offers a full-service package — family and matrimonial, agriculture, corporate, M&A, crime, social housing, tax, sports, litigation, the aforementioned IP and real estate to name a few.
With such a wide variety of work going on, it’s a good job the training is more than up to scratch. Rookies rave about the supportive environment Brabners has created, speaking of a constructive dialogue where feedback flows in both directions. One fresh associate reports: “juniors have a say in their training structure and programme, with the firm being receptive to feedback to offer the best possible environment”. Another insider said that they “could not sing the Brabners people’s praises high enough”. Across the board, the firm has earned a well-deserved reputation for being “nice”.
What’s more, much like a green figure from outer space, new recruits seem to find the term “superior” completely alien. There is “no obvious hierarchy” states one, praising that all colleagues “take a genuine interest in you as a person and how you are supported”. Managing partner Nik White is said to be “incredibly supportive and down to earth”, and “the friendliness and approachability that he displays sets a culture for all the other leaders and managers in the firm”. High praise for the man recently re-elected for a second term in the top spot. Given the high-quality training and support from top to bottom, we’re hardly surprised that many respondents to the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2023-2024 gave it high scores for training, peer support, and approachability.
To complement the exceptional culture and training comes a high quality of work and host of high-profile clients. Juniors praise, in particular, the broad range of work on offer, and engagement in each case and with clients early on, building the skills necessary to take charge of the headline cases down the line. And what a list of headlines there is. For those not living under a rock, the term ‘Wagatha Christie’ will be well known. The libel saga was fought successfully, by Brabners, on behalf of Coleen Rooney. On a similar note, another libel adventure featuring England Cricket captain Ben Stokes was also successfully settled by Brabners in 2021. It’s not all defamation here, however, with the firm also getting involved in significant commercial ventures, such as advising Oldham Council on a £550 million regeneration project earlier this year.
What more could you want as a budding solicitor in the northwest? Well, how about a solid work-life balance. The average rookie clocks into the office between 8:30 – 9am and is out the door again typically by 6pm. “No one is expected to work late if there is no work to do. Even when there is a lot of work on, the culture of the firm is for everyone to help and support if one person has a lot to manage”, reports one rookie. Another boasts: “I have never felt that I had to work excessive hours or sacrifice my life outside of work during my time with Brabners”. Few City juniors would dare speak such blasphemy. There is, however, a sacrifice to be made for this otherwise idyllic life – the salary. For new trainees the wage sits at £29,000 for the first year, up to £31,000 in the second year. Whilst this increases to £50k for the newly qualified (NQ), the numbers — like the lifestyle — remain a world apart from the City. These figures are, however, in line with a regional firm of this size. Brabners 440 staff posted an impressive £40.5 million in revenues last year, up from £37 million in the previous term.
Moving to perks, there are certainly no complaints from the Brabners’ bunch. In line with its community and charity orientated approach the firm offers two volunteering days a year to be used towards any charitable cause; a move that juniors say works in supporting their mental health and wellbeing. This is in addition to a designated wellbeing day, lunchtime yoga sessions, sports teams, running clubs, fitness events, employee conferences (which we are assured revolve around celebrating work rather than doing it), numerous discount schemes, hybrid working as well as the more typical private health care provisions.
All of that is without even mentioning the offices themselves. Rookies report high quality spaces, with three of the four being recent relocations or expansions, in addition to murmurings of puppy therapy and ice cream trucks provided for the firm.
For those who can drag themselves away from the offices, the working from home provisions aren’t bad either. Juniors report that all technical needs are met. The firm also provides chairs, desks, and everything else required for a comfortable and productive hybrid life. Whilst the tech provisions were scored lower by trainees than any other aspect of Brabners, they’re by no means lacking, with recruits noting that the tech on offer is effective, efficient, and well beyond that of some competitors.
Another point of note for a prospective Brabners’ trainee is the firms B-Corp status — one of only a few firms to achieve this prestigious accreditation. The award is granted to companies who demonstrate a high level of environmental and social performance, and who agree to have transparent accountability to all stakeholders, reviewed triennially. This is buttressed by the firms charitable and social endeavours; its popular podcast on common legal issues, as well as online training and informational videos. Also commendable is the Maurice Watkins bursary, aimed at supporting disadvantaged individuals in pursuing legal careers, and the Brabners foundation, which, to date, supports 57 charities and has donated over £140k to local and national projects.