The merger between Eversheds and US firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan created a transatlantic megafirm with 2,300 lawyers across 66 offices in 32 countries. Since then Eversheds Sutherland has been in growth mode opening new offices and launching alliances in Singapore, Dusseldorf, Moscow, St Petersburg, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Revenue this year has soared 13% from £438.6 million to £494.6 million, while profit per equity partner is up a similar amount from £726,000 to £812,000 – a firm record.
It’s worth noting that Eversheds and Sutherland Asbill & Brennan remain financially independent despite the co-branding, with the US branch of the business reporting separate results.
This separation may explain why the effect of the merger on UK rookies has been pretty minimal – with barely a squeak about the US combination in the comments received in the past two years’ Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Surveys. The big pre-tie up themes remain, with Eversheds Sutherland still coming across as a solid firm, with particularly nice partners, decent work/life balance and a ‘sector-focused’ approach that leads to some great client secondments.
The training is A-rated, with times when it feels like you’re in the Royal Marines balanced out by occasional ‘up the creek without a paddle’ moments. Some aren’t keen on the heavy use of video conferences for sessions, but there’s an acceptance that this comes with the territory in a firm the size of Eversheds Sutherland.
Quality of work is mixed, but can veer on the side of “having non-legal jobs prioritised for you”. One rookie quips: “Once spent all day re-arranging cells on a spreadsheet”. The burden is lightened by the partners, who are definitely at the more down-to-earth and approachable end of the corporate law firm spectrum.
There’s a legendary story of one of Eversheds’ senior partners hiring an ice-cream van a couple of summers ago to give everyone in the office free frozen treats. We are told that the best partners are “like a big brother/sister with some professionalism thrown in” and that “if it wasn’t for email signatures (and the obvious age giveaway) it would be quite hard to identify who the partners/juniors are”. Daily “Love island de-briefs” were apparently a thing over the summer, while bonds were strengthened further during a London office ‘Bring Your Dog to Work Day’.
If anything, there’s been more friction in the trainee intake of late, where “everyone understands that you’re in it together but there are always those who are happy to throw you under a bus when they can”. Another insider adds: “There are 1 or 2 dog eat dog trainees [which fortunately didn’t affect the ‘Bring Your Dog to Work Day’] who seriously don’t belong somewhere as mellow as Eversheds, but everyone else is great. Vegan commune style supportive.” Beware that some juniors can be “precious about their mugs”.
The generally positive vibes are reflected in the distinctly reasonable levels of work/life balance at Eversheds Sutherland. Across the firm’s offices, the average arrival time in the office is twenty to nine, and the average leave time is just before seven. But prepare for some quite wide variations between offices and departments. As one trainee reports: “Totally depends on the team you’re in, but if you’re in banking, CDR or corporate then tell your friends that you will see them in six months and get used to four hours sleep.” Still, with such teams largely based in London – where newly qualified pay stands at £64,000 – the compensation is largely in place to reflect this.
With Eversheds present in significant numbers in 10 locations across the UK – many of which date back to the merger of disparate collection of national practices 25 years ago, when the Eversheds brand was born – this is as much a national firm as a City one. And it’s in these old divisions where tension occasionally bubbles up.
Gripes include being “paid like our local rivals” but “worked like our London counterparts”. Not everyone feels this way, though. One Eversheds trainee told us: “I get on well with the wider trainee cohort when we meet up (and I don’t recognise the ‘London snobbery’ that I had been warned about).”
Eversheds Sutherland also has a major international presence, with even pre-Sutherland merger the firm represented in 27 countries outside the UK – mostly in Europe, but also in Asia and the Middle East. This year over a quarter of the firm’s trainees and junior lawyers have done an international secondment or travelled abroad on firm business. Destinations include Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The firm is good for client secondments too. Nearly 30% have done one, with destinations including a Premier League football club and Siemens Wind Power.
Opportunities like these are Eversheds Sutherlands’ perks, which can leave those expecting lavish freebies feeling disappointed. As one insider puts it: “You work here for the friendly people, decent working hours (depending on team) and potential for flexibility if you ever decide to have children. For these things you have to be prepared to sacrifice pay and perks, which are pretty terrible.” Another adds that “free water is available in the kitchen”.
Also tolerated through slightly gritted teeth is Eversheds Sutherlands’ IT, which continues to disappoint. “There is a lot of ‘talk’ on innovation and ‘litigation technologies’ etc but ultimately we still have to deal with printer paper jams, calls to the Service Desk and a crashing DM system,” one trainee tells us.
Still, there are “a lot of socials, including some sports events”, plus a subsidised Starbucks (an Eversheds client) in the London office. In addition, everyone gets discounts at Apple (another client), there is private healthcare and even a ‘bike doctor’ who comes in to perform free services on lawyers’ cycles. Most of the office canteens get a thumbs up too, even if there is a tendency to “think fish is vegetarian” and argue “that cheese isn’t dairy”.