The Legal Cheek View

A lot has changed in the past decade at Clyde & Co. The firm has transformed itself from a respected but relatively niche shipping and insurance law practice into a global full service megafirm. Following a merger with the insurance-focused firm BLM in 2022, Clydes now has 14 offices in the UK, having added BLM’s Birmingham, Southampton, Belfast and Derry hubs to its existing nine UK offices.

But don’t forget Clyde’s other 60+ offices internationally — indeed the majority of its revenue (54% according to its latest financial results) comes from outside the UK, predominantly from North America (22%), Asia Pacific (12%) and the Middle East and Africa (12%). And the firm is continuing to expand globally. In the past year alone, the firm has opened offices in Bangkok, Boston, Calgary, Milan, an associated branch in Cairo. This is on top of the additions of Chile, Munich, Nairobi, Vancouver, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Denver that it has made over the past few years.

Such growth can be turbulent, but Clydes’ financials indicate that so far it seems to be working. In the first full financial year since it merged with BLM, the firm’s global revenues are up 26% to £788.6 million with 6% organic growth and the other 20% being a result of the merger. UK revenue alone has increased a whopping 28%, accounting for 46% of the firm’s total revenue growth. Profits also increased 6% but profit per equity partner (PEP) remained flat at £708,000 as a consequence of both long-term investment and a significant increase to the firm’s partnership. Forty-six new partners came through the merger, with the firm adding a further 38 through lateral hires and promoting 26 more.

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For trainees, the obvious benefit of all of this has historically been lots of secondment options, with Hong Kong, Dubai and Dar es Salaam being popular destinations in the past. However, insiders reveal that this has changed over the past few years. Trainees are more likely to bag a client secondment, with a few rookies heading to big names like Deloitte, but these opportunities are limited to London trainees and, even then, there are grumbles that there’s not enough to go around…

Luckily, the work in house is top tier, particularly in Clyde & Co’s core areas of insurance, transport, energy, infrastructure and trade & commodities, where the firm deals with all the biggest clients such as Aviva, AXA and Zurich. But these aren’t the only sectors where exciting work is found. Those in corporate could find themselves working with the fast-food chain Leon to raise funds for its overseas expansion, whilst juniors in international arbitration can advise an African state on sovereign immunity disputes. And this calibre of clientele stretches further than just London, with the regulatory team in Manchester advising big name clients such as Natwest.

It’s worth bearing in mind that Clydes is now so big that the differences between departments can be similarly huge. Work is known to, at best, get trainees involved in “extremely large-scale and stimulating matters where you have real world impact on the direction of the matters” and, at worst, leave them feeling like “a monkey on a typewriter” – so expect to be doing your fair share of bundles.

“In smaller departments, trainees get to take on associate-level work. In bigger departments, you get involved in huge cases, but correspondingly, only get to do menial or very administrative tasks. However, it is good exposure either way,” one trainee tells us. Training is equally variable, with some rookies finding it to be “supervisor dependant”. “Actual training hasn’t been plentiful but plenty of opportunity to learn on the job and supervisors/other associates are always happy to explain and answer questions, meaning I feel I have learnt a lot in a short space of time”, one spy explains. There are also well-rated internal resources and a great team of professional service lawyers on hand to help trainees.

Despite all the growth, the firm seems to have managed to retain its culture with a “very tightly knit” trainee cohort that regularly organises fun socials. The early careers team receive a special shout-out for doing “a great job of selecting the right candidates for the cohort all of whom mesh very well together and support one another”.

The “exceptionally intelligent” partners also embody this supportive and friendly vibe. Almost all trainee respondents describe their superiors as “approachable” and “understanding”, despite the odd few being “too busy” to have time for newbies. One trainee leaves this solid review:  “Every partner is always willing to help out trainees, from all offices. I have been able to have great chats with partners in London, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Toronto, New York etc, which embodies Clyde’s great culture which stretches internationally. Cannot fault the firm at all in this area.” Another quips: “I’ve made jokes at the expense of every partner I’ve ever worked for and they’ve laughed (without being forced to laugh by the employment tribunal).”

Like all firms with multiple UK offices, there are some mild tensions between the regions and the mothership. In Clydes’ case this is exacerbated somewhat by its glamorous blue glass London home in the St Botolph Building, which apparently boasts a “fantastic” canteen with a lovely view and standout brownies, porridge and chicken shawarma. One embittered non-London rookie confessed to being “envious of London’s canteen” which is situated on the top floor and boasts “amazing views of the city”: plus there’s said to be an “an amazing pastry chef!” Come the evening, it morphs into a bar where the first beer every other Thursday is free and a cleverly named Clyde & Cocktails social is held every month.

The Manchester office is “not as impressive”, with no canteen. But at least all Clydes’ lawyers in the city are now under one roof at 2 New Bailey, whereas, until 2019, they were scattered around different sites.

The work/life balance is pretty good. As one insider summarises: “I feel that I cannot complain too much. I have had to cancel evening plans and work weekends to meet deadlines for a few weeks but this is not the norm and I usually finish work at around 6 or 7. Clydes does not encourage anyone to work late or weekends and encourages you to pursue your hobbies outside of work as these make you a more rounded person and a more relatable lawyer.” Another adds that even when working late, they “don’t necessarily mind it as the work is so interesting”, and the general consensus is that trainees are trusted to manage their own hours.

“Work/life balance really does tend to depend on the seat, and despite Clyde & Co claiming it provides a lower salary than others in the market due to a better work/ life balance offered, this isn’t always true. 8pm finishes are normal [in London], with some days stretching much longer,” says one rookie.

There can again be wide variations between teams and offices. While staying until 6pm “is classed as staying late” in the Manchester insurance team, this is certainly not the case in the London deal teams — and some feel that remuneration should rise to reflect this.

Some consolation is found in the few perks the firm offers, which includes a gym subsidy, cycle to work, private medical, and a new generous parental leave scheme with 26 weeks full-paid leave regardless of gender or parental role, but this hasn’t fully assuaged wage envy and some would like the free food and coffee that’s on offer elsewhere.

As for the reality of working from home, look no further than this description: “Working from home is team-dependent so differs throughout the firm. Trainees are expected to be in the office four days a week which can lead to you being in the office on your own if the rest of the team are given greater flexibility. Some teams have team office days to circumvent this and ensure the whole team is in the office two days per week (or more depending on the team). Other teams seem to acknowledge work/life balance, the effects of a long commute etc more and allow trainees more flexibility by not enforcing the four days in the office allowing greater working from home.” As far as equipment, trainees receive a monitor, laptop, phone, keyboard, chair and money to go towards a desk.

The commute is a big deal for some with Clydes posting a handful of London trainees to its Guildford office for a few months each year. Many of these newbies find themselves moaning about the commute — even though it’s usually tempered by finishing work earlier.

Lately, Clyde & Co has been investing in tech. Like many firms, there is a bit of a disconnect between the outward facing stuff — Clydes has established “an innovative consultancy service which provides clients with fully integrated legal and technical advice and services to help them realise the growing potential of smart contracts” — and the internal IT on offer to its lawyers. “The firm has a Data Lab but they could make it more clear what this does and how it helps us,” one confused rookie confides. Glitchy document review platforms and old laptops are amongst the common internal complaints but with the firm “moving to a soft copy style world where paper will be a thing of the past”, we’ll be looking out for a fair few improvements soon!

Insider Scorecard

Quality of work
Peer support
Partner approach-ability
Work/life balance
Legal tech

Insider Scorecard Grades range from A* to D and are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2023-24 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK.


First year trainee salary £42,000
Second year trainee salary £44,500
Newly qualified salary £80,000
Profit per equity partner £708,000
PGDL grant £9,600
SQE grant £9,600

The above figures are for the firm’s London offices. First year trainee salaries outside London are: £20,000 (Northern Ireland), £24,000 (Newcastle), £25,000 (Scotland), £28,000 (Birmingham/Liverpool/Manchester) and £35,000 (Bristol). Second year trainee salaries are: £22,000 (Northern Ireland), £26,500 (Newcastle), £27,500 (Scotland), £30,500 (Birmingham/Liverpool/Manchester), £37,500 and (Bristol). £44,500. Newly qualified salaries are:  £80,000 (non-Casualty London) £46,000 (Casualty London) £55,000 (non-Casualty Manchester).


The PGDL/SQE grant outside London is £8,750 (Bristol), £7,700 (Manchester), £5,000 (Scotland)



Average start work time 08:57
Average finish time 18:11
Annual target hours No targets
Annual leave 25 days

Average arrive and leave times are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2023-24 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK. Clyde & Co also gives trainees a bonus wellbeing day as well as the option to buy up to 5 days extra leave.


Chances of secondment abroad 3%
Chances of client secondment 11%

Secondment probabilities are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2023–24 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK.

General Info

Training contracts 73
Latest trainee retention rate 73%
Offices 67
Countries 26
Minimum A-level requirement AAB
Minimum degree requirement 2:1


UK female associates 61%
UK female partners 27%
UK BME associates 18%
UK BME partners 3%

Universities Current Trainees Attended