Midlands-based national law firm Browne Jacobson is a fair source of training contracts, with the firm offering up to 17 places each year. Good quality work across the firm’s wide range of commercial practice areas, excellent work/life balance and a friendly culture make this a good place to train. Plus, with the firm enjoying rising revenues for a twelfth consecutive year — most recently disclosed results showing a 5% increase in turnover from £76.8 million to £85 million, a 44% increase since 2015 — the future looks optimistic.
Trainees can expect work that “provides a real insight into the life of an associate”. One satisfied trainee remarked, “it’s very rare that we would have to spend time completing more administrative non-billable tasks”. With the firm specialising in interesting commercial niches — including advising brands on how they can maximise their potential — alongside hot areas like technology and healthcare, there are plenty of attractive instructions coming through the door with one trainee reporting: “I have as many opportunities as I desire to get involved in”.
The training itself is “bespoke to each department” with “high level of responsibility afforded to trainees”. Rookies can generally expect a good mix of “self-managed cases as well as larger matters”. A handful of client secondments — to, among others, the NHS and local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) — are available, which we are told the firm does a good amount of. Unsurprisingly, given Browne Jacobson is a national firm, international secondments are not available.
Peer support is one of the highlights of Browne Jacobson, with one trainee lauding, “[I] couldn’t ask for more in this regard”. Though “Covid has naturally had an impact on the camaraderie between the trainee cohort”, juniors generally feel “supported when needed and also able to give support to those in need”. Trainees report “a significant focus on collaborative working” and “a team virtual gin tasting”, factors that have undoubtedly made remote working more enjoyable and in normal times, the firm has a reputation for its very active social scene.
Partners are “very open to contact from trainees”, with one trainee reporting that even when superiors are “too busy to pick up the phone or unavailable, they always call back”. Another trainee recommends “[messaging] them first instead of calling out of the blue”, though ultimately stating: “I’ve never worked with a partner or senior associate that I did not like on a personal level”.
Meanwhile, the working hours are on the whole very reasonable. According to the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2020/21, corporate departments tend to have the longest hours, but the increasing amount of work flowing into the firm seems to have pushed up hours across the board. For now, Browne Jacobson rookies find the workload manageable as “teams recognise that busy periods should be followed by a more relaxed period, and not just another busy period, otherwise everyone would burn out very quickly”. But if those hours keep increasing, there may be pressure to increase pay too.
Which brings us onto one of Browne Jacobson’s weaker points. While the firm’s money is OK for the regions, where the majority of the firm’s trainees are based in its Nottingham headquarters, it doesn’t compete with City of London megabucks. However, with the firm’s ‘National Powerhouse Strategy’, it is clear Browne Jacobson is not planning on following the international mega-merger path of many competitors. Despite all this, trainees speak highly of the firm’s offices with trainees saying that “the brand-new Manchester office is the best in town”, whilst “the London office is lovely with a fantastic rooftop garden”. Multiple trainees also mention the “brilliant café” in the Nottingham HQ.
In terms of perks, the firm offers “nothing particularly noteworthy”. In fact, the perks are quite standard, including gym memberships, private medical care after a year’s service and some free app subscriptions. The move to home working was, however, supported with “working at home kits that include a double screen setup” and other necessary equipment.