For those turned off by the macho talk of 14-hour days sweating over big deals in the City, regional outfits like Royds Withy King have a compelling offer. Essentially, you get to be a lawyer, but have a life as well. Get in!
Work/life balance at the Bath-based outfit is “generally good”, according to one insider, “though the pandemic has meant that some departments are massively rammed and others are dead — so it is rather luck of the draw”. Another rookie tells us they’ve “experienced discouragement” in working late “unless it is critical”. Interested? Thought you might be.
This is no haven for the lazy, obviously. Royds Withy King is in the UK’s top 100 firms by size, and insiders praise the quality of work. “It’s not the kind of place that will give you photocopying or filing to do,” says one satisfied newbie, “from day one you will be involved with chargeable client work while simultaneously having a lot of support”. Another trainee reels off evidence of their importance: “Whether it is attending a meeting to take an attendance note, drafting Grounds of Resistance, writing witness statements or filing a claim in the Supreme Court, the work I have been given during my training contract has been highly stimulating.”
We are told that the “quality of training varies very widely between departments”, although most supervisors are happy to “delegate fee earning and provide constructive feedback”. Another rookie tells us this: “I receive mid and end seat reviews from my supervisors, to signpost what I am doing well as well as consider what I can work on moving forward… I credit my supervisors for their dedication to train me.” In terms of partner approachability, one rookie proclaims: “100% you will not find a firm with more approachable partners”. Others offers similarly glowing reviews: “genuinely consistently friendly”, according one trainee. “I can easily call my supervisor who will provide guidance”, another adds.
The facilities get mixed reviews, which makes sense when there are six different offices across southern England between London and its Bath HQ. “The days of marketing throwing stupid money at toilet décor seem to have gone”, notes one observant rookie. No canteen, either. Unless, as one trainee puts it, “the Sainsbury’s across the road counts… but breakout area with two microwaves goes a long way towards one”. But upgrades are happening. The firm’s Oxford lot have relocated to new “modern offices” while the Swindon branch recently upgraded to new digs in the town centre.
Like other regional outfits, the firm has some niche practice areas that might fit your interests. Get your wellies on for a seat in the agriculture and rural business or horse racing and bloodstock teams. But perhaps “regional” is unfair: the modern firm was created only in 2016 in a merger between Withy King of Bath and Royds in London, and the resulting creation has a pretty broad base of commercial work in addition to private client. Trainees get four seats of six months each to sample different areas.
The firm scored well for peer support, with one insider channelling Sister Sledge to tell us: “We are fa-mi-ly!” Presumably that’s why getting your birthday off is one of the perks on offer at Royds Withy King, along with more standard employee goodies like healthcare and discounts. And they’ll draw up your will for free, which the more morbid/sensible young lawyers we spoke to seem to think is a perk to die for. More to the point, perhaps, is the “free Caffé Nero coffee per month which rather speaks for itself.”
They aren’t winning any awards for tech necessarily — it’s fine with room for improvement. “Sadly our tech doesn’t match our firm’s tagline #notaheadofthecurve”, one trainee says, while another quips: “Still playing catch-up post-merger and while they are starting to talk about some innovations it sounds like your dad discovering Twitter!”
Money-wise, the firm’s most recently disclosed financials – released in 2020 – reported strong financials with turnover sitting at £38.5 million and profit per equity partner (PEP) at £207,000. Trainees start on between £27,000 and £34,000, depending on where they are based, with newly qualified solicitors earning between £42,000 and £50,000.