Launched in 1987, Fletchers Solicitors initially specialised in motorbike accidents, before expanding into other areas of personal injury law. But it remained a relatively small firm until the civil justice reforms began ten years later and, seeing an opportunity as the government enacted changes that favoured larger legal service providers, Fletchers Solicitors embarked on a strategy to scale up.
Since then Fletchers Solicitors has marketed itself heavily to expand its reach and embraced technology to boost efficiency. In respect of the former, the firm has enjoyed considerable success through sponsorship of TV show Judge Rinder by its consumer brand, Patient Claim Line, and has developed a very active social media presence. On the tech front, Fletchers Solicitors has partnered with the University of Liverpool and Innovate UK as part of a landmark project to develop artificial intelligence for the legal sector.
Despite the firm’s efforts to embrace technology, there were some grumbles when it came to legal tech, with one source saying, “I have heard about all the interesting tech that is being implemented. However, I am yet to see this within my team.” On a more positive note, the work-from-home set-up is decent and several juniors reported the firm was “very understanding of some people being unable to attend the office” with obligatory office time as low as one day a week.
In late 2021, Fletchers Solicitors was acquired by private equity investors and the latest financial results show turnover has slipped slightly from £43.4 million to £34.1 million in the year to 30 April 2022. This, the firm says, was largely due to the costs related to the sale of the business and increased investment in growth.
And this growth is clear to see. The firm launched its Manchester office in 2017, having previously operated out of ever larger premises in Southport, where it was founded. The move to open a further base in the North West’s first city was considered a major statement to the market. In 2023, the firm added two new bases in Leeds and Liverpool and now employs over 670 lawyers and staff.
Survey comments suggest some of the older offices need a bit of TLC. One miffed staffer said this about one unnamed office: “Small, outdated, and cold. Most people work from home at any given chance.” However, we were also told from other sources that refurbishments are underway and “the new offices being opened look amazing”.
Fletchers Solicitors takes on up to ten trainees each year, with many of them completing the LPC part time alongside their training. The firm also takes on a number of solicitor apprentices who have already transitioned to the SQE pathway. This programme enables participants to gain hands-on experience in law, whilst completing an undergraduate degree (LLB, Hons), and post-graduate qualifications as well as a period of recognised training. Based in Southport, apprentices work four days per week with one day being dedicated to study. After six years, participants become qualified solicitors. Recruitment is via Fletchers Solicitors’ annual summer vacation scheme, shorter work experience placements and direct application. Fletchers Solicitors also recommends applying for junior legal roles to gain qualifying work experience and then applying for qualification opportunities internally.
Trainees speak highly of the “variety” and “range of exposure” they receive during their training, alongside the mixture of opportunities “to work on more complex cases” and “to handle my own smaller cases”. One tells us: “The work is interesting and every case is different and therefore you never feel like the work is repetitive”. Another adds that rookies are not given the “busy-work” that you might expect with trainees, but instead enjoy “a full caseload of live cases and the responsibility to do the role of an actual fee earner (with supervision)”. Cases include everything from multi-million-pound claims across the spectrum of medical negligence to Court of Protection cases and serious injury matters.
Fletchers Solicitors also has its own academy that helps bolster newbies’ knowledge. One rookie told us, “the academy has monthly catch ups with me to check in on how I am doing with my apprenticeship overall which I find really useful”. Cohorts are also said to be a happy place. One notes, “I have a great team who are all knowledgeable, friendly and want me to do well”, whilst another lauds the “great community of trainees”.
Supervisors are notably down-to-earth. “I always feel I can approach my supervisors and be honest with them about how I am coping. I don’t feel concerned about going to them when I have issues or queries which is very reassuring when you’re moving around and constantly working for new people,” one Fletchers Solicitors rookie reports. And there is a nice, “mutually supportive” vibe among trainees and junior lawyers, who enjoy a lively social life. “Always social events going on ran by a very dedicated social team,” explains an insider. These include an annual Chinese, bowling, nights out, family fun day, summer ball and a Christmas party.
When it comes to perks, Fletchers Solicitors may not seek to compete with the glamour freebies of Magic Circle firms, but it has some benefits such as free beauty therapy provided by licensed beauticians including massages and nails, plus the occasional free meal and a pretty great 35 days of holiday including bank holidays.
One area where the firm definitely certainly beats Magic Circle firms is work/life balance, with a very respectable average leave the office time of around 5:30pm. One insider said they “never work past 5pm provided their work is completed throughout the day.”