When the merger between Beachcroft and Davis Arnold Cooper was announced in 2011 there were high hopes that we were about to see an ABCD LLP. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. And the perhaps more sensibly named DAC Beachcroft came into being instead.
Since then the firm has enjoyed mixed fortunes as it initially was faced with the challenge of restructuring its post-merger finances. But it’s been steadily getting itself back on track, reducing net debt for the fourth consecutive year. This year all that discipline has paid off with profit per equity partner soaring by 20% to reach £432,000.
The firm is bigger than many realise, with ten offices in the UK and eight internationally, including exotic outposts in Bogota and Auckland. This year it expanded further via strategic alliances with firms in Germany, Australia, the US, Central America and Peru. The focus is very much on insurance work, but DAC Beachcroft has branched out into more general litigation and commercial work over the years, with highly rated specialisms in healthcare and real estate practices.
It’s a nice mix for rookies to cut their teeth on, with the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2017-18 showing DAC Beachcroft kids to be happy with the quality of the work that comes their way. Reports one insider: “Obviously varies. But I do have a lot of independence on smaller cases, and quite a lot of leeway on larger ones too. Of course sometimes there are dull things to be done, but that’s the same in any job, right?”
Another adds: “The level of training did vary from supervisor/department. However, I was very fortunate to be placed with supervisors who all invested a significant amount of time in my training and my exposure was generally consistently to very interesting and high level work.”
A strength is the approachability of the partners. “I have actually called a supervisor Dad before,” one rookie quips. Work/life balance is also very good, with DAC Beachcroft boasting some of the lowest hours of any major corporate law firm. According to our figures, the average leave the office time is just after 6pm (see below).
An area where the firm falls down is international secondments, which are rare to non-existent despite the firm’s impressive global coverage. However, around a quarter of rookies do client secondments. Destinations include AXA, AIG and Unilever.
Another gripe voiced by DAC Beachcroft juniors is over money – with the London newly qualified pay among the lower in the City (the trade-off is of course those fantastic hours). Regional salaries vary but can be on the low side relative to the firm’s peers. This produces considerable grumbling, with myth making abounding about the firm’s perceived stinginess. One tipster tells us: “The free tea bags throughout the office appear to be made from the sweepings left over when the first lot of sweepings have already been used up.” But in fairness to the firm it also offers some solid perks, including a “good” bonus scheme, “excellent” pension plan “with higher firm contributions”, private healthcare and subsidised gym membership.
DAC Beachcroft also has a flashy London office in the fashionable Holborn/City borders complete with an in-house Costa coffee. There are, however, some complaints about the lack of canteens in some regional offices. It’s also a friendly place with a good social scene in the northern offices (the southern offices are apparently rather less sociable), featuring three office-wide parties annually, including a big trainee bash in the summer.