Mishcon de Reya
The Legal Cheek View
From the celebrity clients and the centre of political drama to weekly flower arrangements and the famous bar in the client lounge, Mishcon de Reya has a certain panache. With “one of the nicest offices in the city”, the firm’s “swanky” Holborn digs is feted as “extremely impressive”. Having been impressed by the avant garde cocktail bar, clients can grab themselves sushi and martinis while they wait. Clients and lawyers can also apparently (and slightly bafflingly) have their coffee served via an iPad. Amongst them have been Gina Miller who Mishcon de Reya represented in her legal challenge to prevent Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s proroguing of parliament in 2019, Stella Creasy MP in her maternity cover challenge and the current leader of the opposition Keir Starmer who has been known to have advised the firm.
Work-wise, Mishcon’s twin strengths are litigation and private clients. The firm’s smaller size — it has just two offices, in London and Singapore — gives it a different feel to a megafirm. The downside to the lack of a global footprint is minimal availability of secondments, although there are occasional work trips, and one rookie reports staying overnight in Madrid to meet a client. Client secondments are also not really a thing at Mishcon, which is a source of some regret to current trainees.
But this does mean that the work is “usually fantastic” as trainees get to enjoy Mishcon’s “niche and interesting departments” and are entrusted with “a lot of responsibility”. Training at the firm begins with an “excellent” induction followed by “intense training in each department at the start of each seat”. One rookie warns, however, that although “thorough” and “comprehensive”, the training can be quite “front-loaded”. Another tells us, like with many firms, the training can vary between departments and who you’re assigned as a supervisor.
Generally though, senior members of the firm are very approachable and embrace a non-hierarchical atmosphere. “Partners have been very approachable, despite often being incredibly busy. At the lower end, it varies a lot more, but the friendly faces far outweigh the more reserved”, says one spy. Another adds that partner approachability is “mostly great, with the odd scarier partner. On the whole it’s an open door policy and partners are grateful when you approach them directly/ ask for their advice”. It also helps that trainees tend to look out for one another. “Fantastic group of trainees, strong level of collegiality, we all support each other and get on really well” gushes one.
Mishcon de Reya has long been mulling an IPO worth around £750 million that would have seen it become the largest listed law firm in the UK. However, due to market conditions, those plans have been put on hold for the “foreseeable future”. As part of the initial public offering, the firm had said every member of staff, including trainees and junior lawyers, would have become a shareholder in the newly listed business. Despite all this, the firm’s financial results have remained strong, with revenue up 22% to £230.7 million and profit per equity partner (PEP) rising 11% to £1.05 million.
And expect more high-profile cases to come Mishcon’s way. The firm recently launched a new £150 million litigation funding arm, ‘MDR Solutions’, through a tie-up with third-party funder Harbour. The move, the firm says, will fund a range of legal matters for its clients, including complex fraud matters, IP disputes and group litigation. Elsewhere, a tie-up with the Cambridge-based legal and consultancy practice Taylor Vinters that focuses on providing support to innovators and entrepreneurs bodes well for the future.
On the lawtech front, investment keeps flowing into boosting Mishcon’s capabilities, including its high-profile start-up incubator — branded ‘MDR LAB’ — where numerous up-and-coming lawtech start-ups are housed. The firm is, apparently, “always experimenting with new technology”, and one such initiative sees billable targets for some associates cut by 20% to encourage tech-minded lawyers to spend more time on tech and innovation projects. On the topic of billing, Mishcon has also introduced an automated time recording system — dubbed ‘Time by Ping’ — which rookies tell us automatically “captures everything we do” and has “completely revolutionised time recording”. The fancy-schmancy stuff aside, there are grumbles over some of the basics, including the “slow document management system” and “outdated” software. Mishcon’s current tech status is well summarised by this insider: “Lots of new and exciting things being rolled out, but as always, the basic tech is still a frustration.”
Mischon’s newly qualified solicitors earn a very respectable income: £90,000. This is especially true given the decent work/life balance. Newbies claim there’s a “hard-working culture, but a clear expectation that it is ok to have a life out of work. This is evidenced from trainees to partners. I love my work-life balance and feel very fortunate compared to some of my peers,” and “can’t complain for the career I’ve chosen”. Then again this depends on your team. One spy confesses, “I’ve been lucky and can get out for dinner most evenings. Others have not been so lucky…”.
Plus the perks are pretty good. They include a subsidised bike purchase scheme, a season ticket loan for the Tube, an in-house doctor, free private health care, a decent gym allowance, free yoga classes, “really good summer and Christmas parties” and regular talks from “respected and interesting speakers from inside and outside the law world”, although “free breakfast/ lunch would be appreciated”!