Clyde & Co

The Legal Cheek View

Over the last decade Clyde & Co has transformed itself from a respected but relatively niche shipping and insurance law practice into a global full service megafirm. In the UK alone, Clydes now has ten offices, with a further 36 internationally, including a substantial presence in the US, Asia and the Middle East.

Such growth can be turbulent, but Clydes is seen as having handled its enlargement – which included the 2011 takeover of Barlow Lyde & Gilbert and, most recently, the gobbling up of Scottish firm Simpson & Marwick – pretty well under the stewardship of former senior partner James Burns. The progress has continued under global chief executive officer Peter Hasson, with a focus on US growth where the firm has recently opened offices in Chicago, Washington, Miami and Los Angeles.

It’s a bold and eye-catching strategy for a UK-headquartered firm to target the notoriously tough to crack American market, but Clydes’ financials indicate that so far it seems to be working. Revenue passed the half a billion pound mark this year, rising 14% to £508.1m, with profit per equity partner down slightly (2%) to £650,000.

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For trainees, the obvious benefit of all of this is international secondments – around a third do one, with San Francisco (the firm’s first US office, founded presciently in 2008 to take advantage of the ensuing tech boom) a reasonably common destination. There’s also access to big name clients and global work. It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that now that Clydes is so big – with its 50 training contract places annually, the firm is now among the biggest trainers of solicitors in the country – the differences between departments can be similarly huge. “Responsibility in departments varies with notably low responsibility in larger litigation departments. In the departments with high responsibility there is significant opportunity to learn and develop skills,” one trainee tells us.

Still, despite all the growth the firm seems to have managed to retain its culture, with a largely “tightly knit” trainee cohort apparently “sticking together well”, and partners seen to be generally pretty nice. Explains one insider: “Some are terrifying, but the vast majority are friendly, appreciative, approachable and happy to talk to you.”

Like all firms with multiple UK offices, there is some tension 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. 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 as the London head office”, with no canteen. But the work/life balance is good – Clydes is a strong scorer in this area across the firm, with most lawyers clocking off by 7pm outside very busy periods. “The vast majority of times I can make and keep to evening plans. I have, however, been made to work on a Saturday at very last minute,” one trainee tells us. However, there can 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.


Manchester Training Contract 2020

Applications open 01/10/2017
Applications close 31/07/2018

Insider Scorecard

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

Insider Scorecard Grades range from A* to D and are derived from the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2017-18 of over 2,000 trainees and junior associates at the leading law firms in the UK.


First year trainee salary £36,000
Second year trainee salary £38,000
Newly qualified salary £63,000
Profit per equity partner £650,000
GDL grant £7,000
LPC grant £7,000


Average arrival time 9:08am
Average leave time 7:01pm
Annual target hours 1,450
Annual leave 25 days


Chances of secondment abroad 32%
Chances of client secondment 23%

General Info

Training contracts 50
Latest trainee retention rate 79%
Offices 46
Countries 21
Minimum A-level requirement AAB
Minimum degree requirement 2:1


UK female associates 51%
UK female partners 22%
UK BME associates 16%
UK BME partners 14%

The Firm In Its Own Words