Midlands-based national law firm Browne Jacobson is a substantial source of training contracts, with the firm offering around 20 places each year. Decent 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 over the last few years – most recently seeing a 4% increase in turnover from £64 million to £66.8 million – there is an optimism around the place. Although recent merger talks with Beale & Co, another commercial law firm, fell through, Browne Jacobson still seems keen to expand.
Trainees can expect “some brilliant work on major transactions and sitting at the negotiating table with the big boys and girls” and “some mind numbing and endless bundling”. 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 always plenty of attractive instructions coming through the door.
The training itself is “overall fairly good, as long as you are pro-active in seeking learning opportunities”, although it can vary between departments and “some teams expect very high performance from day one and don’t put a lot of effort into training”. A handful of client secondments – to, among others, the NHS – come recommended.
Peers are mostly “very tight-knit and supportive”, with the odd “bad apple”. There is an associated pretty active social scene. Partners are “very supportive” with the caveat that “this can be dependent on how busy they are and their mood”. The open plan office helps, “although when they’ve had bad news it can make the office environment pretty awkward.”
Meanwhile, the working hours are very reasonable. According to the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2017-18, the average arrive in the office time is 8:37am and the leave time 6:05pm. One trainee tells us: “It varies team to team, but on the whole the work/life balance is great. When we’re busy it’s all hands to the pump, which is to be expected, but 12+ hour days are few and far between and I’ve not once had to pull an all-nighter.” Another adds: “About right for the pay we get.”
Which brings us onto one of Browne Jacobson’s weaker points. While the firm’s money is respectable 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. What the firm does offer is some decent access to London work via its very fancy City office just round the corner from the Gherkin.
Nor is the firm great on perks. “Perks are pretty basic and generally done in the most austere way imaginable,” an insider reports. Another adds: “Being declined expenses for a quick stop “dinner” of a supermarket sandwich meal deal, having forgotten to eat any dinner at all the previous night on a completion was the low point.” But there is private medical insurance after a year’s service and a flat bonus that is dependent on firm-wide performance.