Harbottle & Lewis

The Legal Cheek View

Harbottle & Lewis are a specialist private client, technology, media, and entertainment firm who serve a range of high-profile A-listers, giant corporations, and humble entrepreneurial start-ups. From their idyllic location just around the corner from the Savoy Hotel, and on the doorstep of London’s biggest theatres, the firm deals with some of the most complex and significant issues in their sectors, whilst also expanding their portfolio to include a greater range of IP, corporate/M&A, employment, and real estate work.

Each year their six lucky trainees engage in the whole spectrum of this work, with the traditional four seat training structure offering experience in a range of areas including commercial litigation, corporate, employment, family, film, TV & theatre, media & entertainment, private client, tax and immigration, and technology, data and digital. Supported by a dedicated learning and development team, rookies are exposed to hotshot clients from day one. During this time, newbies receive a very respectable £46,000 in year one, £49,000 in year two, and then £78,000 upon qualification. Whilst this may not be the same as the largest City and US packages on offer, we’re told that the smaller firm, housing all of the 46 partners and 73 other fee earners in a single office, brings a more homely atmosphere. It’s reported that juniors are out of the door by 6:30 most days, and are “encouraged to have an active life outside the office”, which “the culture promotes and supports”.

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Another perk of joining Harbottle & Lewis is the bumper client list and exciting work which lawyers, at all levels, engage with. The firm’s corporate clients include the likes of: Expedia, Nissan, Sky, The Pokémon Company International, Microsoft, Iceland, Pets at Home, Oxford University Press, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Volkswagen, Emirates, Trivago, KFC, F1 Arcade, and Universal. That’s a hefty selection on its own. But, you say, this is a media specialist, what about those A-listers and celebrities? Well, beyond some of the lesser-known figures like the late HM Queen Elizabeth, the former Prince of Wales (now King Charles III), and just about every senior member of the Royal Family, the firm has assisted the likes of: Victoria and David Beckham, Queen, Stormzy, Gordon Ramsey, Melania Trump, Sir Richard Branson, Romelu Lukaku, half of the England Cricket team, Cricket West Indies, and Little Simz. This roster may just be the reason why the firm receive over 400 applications a year for those coveted six spots!

Some of the “especially stimulating” and “very interesting” work at the firm includes representing actor Sean Bean and late Australian Cricketer Shane Warne in a phone hacking case against News Group Newspapers; advising London-headquartered fintech Smart on a $95 million Series E Funding; and advising F1 Arcade on a £30 million expansion project. It’s no wonder then that the firm has posted a record financial year, increasing their turnover from just under £46.5 million in 2020/21, to over £48.5m million in the last financial year, in spite of difficult market conditions.

If such a high-profile selection of clients sounds at all stressful or difficult, fear not, the firm offer a range of (very nice) perks to keep you happy and healthy. Monthly massages are on the cards, along with (as almost all respondents to the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey 2023-24 have emphasised) very tasty free daily lunches, daily wellness sessions and programmes, and season ticket loans to aid with transport. This is in addition to the more standard life assurance and private medical insurance provided to all recruits. It is also reassuring to hear that these perks aren’t provided “just because you have to stay in the office”, but rather “come from a genuine wellness perspective”.

With the massages, yoga, and free lunch, it’s hardly surprising that rookies find their colleagues and superiors to be a happy, friendly bunch. Recruits praise the “very approachable people” who, “regardless of what position they are in, are friendly and happy to help”.

Insider Scorecard

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


First year trainee salary £46,000
Second year trainee salary £49,000
Newly qualified salary £78,000
Profit per equity partner Undisclosed
PGDL grant £6,000
SQE grant £6,000

Those undertaking the PGDL and SQE with the firm will have their fees covered in full.


Average start work time 09:19
Average finish time 18:35
Annual target hours No targets
Annual leave 25 days

Harbottle & Lewis offers 25 days holiday, rising to 26 days on your first anniversary of joining the firm.


Chances of secondment abroad 0%
Chances of client secondment 0%

General Info

Training contracts 6
Latest trainee retention rate 71%
Offices 1
Countries 1
Minimum A-level requirement No minimum
Minimum degree requirement 2:1

The firm asks for applicants with strong A-Level results, but does take mitigating circumstances into account when reviewing applications.

Universities Current Trainees Attended

The Firm In Its Own Words