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 more sensibly named DAC Beachcroft came into being instead.
Having slowly restructured its post-merger finances, reducing net debt for five consecutive years, the firm is now thriving. This year turnover rose again, by 11% to £230 million, while profit per equity partner soared by 23% over the half a million pound mark for the first time to reach £530,000. To celebrate £7.7 million in bonuses were paid out to staff.
DAC Beachcroft is bigger than many realise, with ten offices in the UK and eight internationally, including exotic outposts in Bogota and Auckland. Recently it has 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 2018-19 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. Another adds: “No one takes themselves too seriously.” 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 6:15pm.
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.
The firm’s offices are mixed. London is most flash, located 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.
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 jokes: “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.
There’s also perhaps the best selection of trolleys of any firm in corporate law: a drinks trolley at the end of every month on Fridays at 4pm, an ice lolly trolley during hot weather, occasional donuts and fruit platter trolleys, and a prosecco trolley for end of year financial results. Trolley fun often extends out of work, with a good social scene in the northern offices (the southern offices are apparently less sociable). There are also three office-wide parties annually, including a big trainee bash in the summer.