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” and being “like a palace”. 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 the now former 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 four offices, in London, Cambridge, Oxford and Singapore, and an association in Hong Kong with Karas So LLP, giving 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 at Mischon are rare, with just a handful of current trainees completing six-month stints with some of the firm’s clients, including a real estate property investment and a media client.
Trainees report that the work is “challenging and varied” as they get to enjoy Mishcon’s “niche and interesting departments” and are entrusted with “a lot of responsibility”. If you want a glimpse into the kind of work Mischon does, an example would be the win it recently secured for posh Mayfair restaurant Hush in a lease extension dispute. Training at the firm begins with an “excellent” induction followed by “intense training in each department at the start of each seat”. One trainee summarises: “training is great on both a technical and a personal level. Supervisors will bring you into matters that they think will be of interest to you as well as providing you with the technical skills you need.” Another rookie warns, however, that although “interesting” and “targeted”, the training can be “a bit of a lottery as it varies across teams”. Another tells us, like with many firms, the training can vary based on how busy the departments are 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 – partners in real estate, dispute resolution and employment were found to be more approachable than their private client counterparts. On the whole, however, 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. “Such an amazing group – we get on really well and are always there to support each other and advise. Zero sense of competitiveness and always feel like there’s someone to go to for help,” gushes one. The firm also provides a budget for social events for trainees “which enables [trainees] to bond further”, reports another rookie.
Mishcon de Reya had 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, the firm announced in June 2022 that 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 10% to £255 million. The firm did not disclose its profit per equity partner figure (and won’t going forward), with chief financial officer Matt Hotson finding the popular metric to be “too narrow, short-term and misleading” given the diversity of its business.
And expect more high-profile cases to come Mishcon’s way. In 2021, the firm revealed a £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. More recently, Mishcon completed its merger with Cambridge-based legal and consultancy practice Taylor Vinters, strengthening its focus on providing support to innovators and entrepreneurs.
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. Not only that, the firm recruited a ‘GPT Legal Prompt Engineer’ to explore how generative AI models like ChatGPT can be put to use alongside the firm’s lawyers and business professionals. One trainee notes that there is even a “practice transformation team which helps all fee earners use the amazing, but sometimes complex, tech”.
Sticking with tech, 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, with late finishes and more unpredictability reported in contentious departments. On the WFH side, although trainees “have to be in at least 3-4 days per week”, the firm is “really good at ensuring [you] have all the equipment [you] need”.
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”. Interesting is probably putting it mildly – the Mishcon Academy (the firm’s “in-house place of learning”) recently hosted a Q&A with former health secretary Matt Hancock as part of the promotions for his book, Pandemic Diaries. There is also free breakfast on Mondays and Fridays, with “emails always going around with tickets to concerts, football games and the theatre”.