The firm which briefly began life as Masons Pinsent, before swiftly re-ordering its name upon discovering that the corresponding internet domain had been squatted, is now one of the most recognisable in the UK.
The national outfits Pinsents and Masons combined in 2004 which marked the beginning of a couple of decades of expansion. The firm now has a total of 26 offices across the globe, including a big British presence, with bases in Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester, alongside its City of London headquarters. Other additions include the firm’s Brexit-induced decision to open its Dublin hub in 2017, and more recently the launch of its offices in the Netherlands in 2021 and Luxembourg in 2022, its seventh office in continental Europe.
Unlike many corporate firms, Pinsent Masons gives its British offices equal status, with a renowned UK-wide projects practice setting the tone for an approach that is less London-centric than many. Tech, energy and real estate are other strong points. On the tech front, the firm has added three new lateral partner hires in its technology, science and industry sector. All joined the firm’s London office in 2023.
Internationally, the firm is strongest in mainland Europe, Asia and the Middle East, although it has been expanding in Australia. But trainees shouldn’t expect too much travel — international secondments largely take place at the post-qualification stage. Still, it’s worth noting that two current trainees report on being seconded to Singapore and Sydney, Australia. Client secondments are more common with trainees heading off to retailers like Tesco, financial institutions, as well a smattering of other prominent clients such as Heathrow Airport and Google.
Insiders report a pleasant culture, with excellent training and work that ranges from “very interesting cross border work” and “being given full reign over some matters from opening the file to closing” to “proof reading a draft and making sure all the cross references throughout the document work”. Expect “impeccable” training too. As well as providing trainees with hands-on supervision, the firm offers “pre-recorded webinars, live training sessions, regular update forums and a mass of practice development lawyers who are on standby to give bespoke training or to answer quirky queries”.
One rookie offered this concise summary: “Lots of client contact. Lots of responsibility. Lots of coaching”, while others told Legal Cheek that they enjoy a “wide range of work” from “cyber, to IP to insurance” that is “regularly topical” and “contextually interesting”. Another junior summarised their experience as this: “As a trainee, I have had the opportunity to push myself and lead workstreams / matters myself with limited supervision and every task is contributing to furthering the work on particular cases and is a valuable contribution”.
Pinsent Masons’ most recent financial results reveal a record-breaking eleven years of consecutive growth that saw revenue rise by a stellar 14% from £531.1 million to £605.9 million. Profit per equity partner (PEP) continues to grow as well, rising 7.8% to £797,000. Although this is a smaller increase relative to the 16% hikes in each of the two years prior, it remains a solid growth figure given challenging market conditions and rising inflation. Junior lawyer pay for NQs in London sits at £92,000, whilst those in the regions earn £61,000.
Given these pay packages, insiders are content with their work/life balance: “can’t see it being any better elsewhere for the same money work I do”. This, of course, varies from seat to seat. One trainee tells us: “Don’t expect to be logging off at 6 pm in Corporate/Banking. But, there are other departments in which this is genuinely possible some of the time. Even in corporate, if I’ve had nothing to do and I’ve been working hard, I’ve had seniors tell me to log off at 3.30 pm and go enjoy my afternoon”. The firm is also said to have “a very progressive attitude towards working from home” with most only going into the office around three-days-a-week, although trainees are more strongly encouraged to be in the office regularly. One rookie sums up that the firm’s attitude to working from home as this: “cannot be faulted, apart from the fact that the provision of equipment could be better.”
There’s also an excellent sense of camaraderie that comes with Pinsents’ culture being unusually detached from “the commercial law firm stigma that many hear about and experience elsewhere”. One trainee tells us: “It’s not unusual to find us all at the pub once (or twice) a week and hanging out at weekends, even during NQ season when some of us are going for the same jobs. I think we’re pretty lucky that we can say we’re friends with most of our cohort both in our office and other offices in the UK”. It is rumoured, however, that the London rookies can be less of a unit than those working in the regions, partly due to longer working hours and travel times. Another rookie praised the Disability and Wellbeing and Neurodiversity Networks, which “offer [me] support and help [me] advocate for reasonable adjustments, and peers are also really supportive in terms of ensuring I’m not overloaded or struggling”.
An “unstuffy” culture means that partners are also friendlier than at many rivals. Consensus is that the “majority are very helpful and supportive”, with “the odd ‘difficult’ personality”. In this respect, “the open plan office(s) definitely helps — you feel like you can talk to anyone as there’s no doors closed!”.
It’s worth noting that Pinsents is highly rated for its tech-savviness — consistently scoring top marks in this category of the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey — with “multiple tech solutions including document automation, AI and various transaction support tech that can assist with project management”. One spy reports that while there is ”lots of legal tech at the firm, it is more a question of raising awareness of what we have at our disposal and offering training on the different platforms we have”.
It appears that investments in the contract legal businesses Xenia and Xenion, and the continued expansion of its flexible-lawyering service, Vario, which has now become a practice group in its own right, are paying off. In fact, paying off might be an understatement — revenue for Pinsent Masons Vario grew a whooping 38% in the past year, from £30.9 million to £42.6 million. Another curious feature is the firm’s Human Cyber Index that analyses behaviours and attitudes towards cyber security with the aim of improving protection against hacks.
One newbie summarises: “[There are] tons of different tech solutions I can draw on. We also have dedicated support teams — so I can get a shared platform set up in an hour or so, I can send a long dictation to be sorted overnight, I can get a redaction done speedily by an out of office team. I know Pinsent Masons is at the forefront of legal tech”. Another trainee points out Alteria, “a tool used by the IP team to help clients monitor brand infringement and reputation online and implement enforcement strategies”. There is also a tool named ‘Parallels’, which acts as a one-stop shop for clients to keep track of parallel imports”. In addition, the recent roll out of new Advanced Delivery Teams across the entire firm has also been appreciated.
Inspired by the firm’s push on legal tech, trainees have a proactive mindset on how to improve. One insider tells us: “I have ideas on products we could create/ways we could better use what we have. These are taken seriously at the firm and are listened to by partners and progressed”. Another added: “There is active encouragement to engage with legal technology and further developments in the pipeline. Everyone is encouraged to come up with opportunities that solve problems”. The firm is also given an interesting extra dimension by its Out-law legal news arm, which employs three full time journalists.
What you won’t get at Pinsents are amazing perks. OK, so there’s a subsidised Costa Coffee, yoga and Pilates classes, plus regular themed drinks events, reduced Barbican membership and free healthcare. Trainees do feel the firm is making a big effort to be more environmentally conscious. The Climate Change & Sustainability Network is said to be “pretty active”, with the firm also “trying to cut down on international travel and ensure that it operates in a way to reduce waste”. Pinsents is “leading the way” exclaims one, pointing to the fact that it was one of the first law firms to have its global 2040 net-zero target verified by the Science Based Targets initiative.
Still, Pinsents’ “snazzy digs” at 55 Colmore Row in Birmingham have fired hopes of a glamour splurge. Claims that the firm’s City of London office is “impressive” are bolstered by the fact that it has been used as a filming location for a couple of BBC dramas — you might have seen it in season two of Industry. The glass lift is also known to be “a client favourite”. And the makeover that the Leeds office has undergone has impressed, with the refurbished floors looking “amazing”. The Manchester office is also worth mentioning, located “in the top floors, with panoramic views of Manchester”.