From advising Meta on the launch of its independent Oversight Board to being appointed as exclusive legal services provider for Premiership Rugby powerhouse Saracens, there’s plenty of variety at RPC.
The firm combines law with a consulting side-line, running the spin-off RPC Consulting brand which became known as RPC Tyche in 2020, and a joint venture with software company Marriott Sinclair that emulates the Big Four accountancy firms’ multi-disciplinary approach. RPC has since successfully sold the tech business in 2022 and launched RPC Tectonic, its legal accelerator programme for tech start-ups working on ESG solutions.
Beneath all of this are traditional foundations. RPC has a longstanding reputation in its core practice areas of insurance, commercial, corporate and litigation which dates back well over a century. The firm is particularly close to the insurance, retail, tech and media industries, with major clients including many of those sectors’ main players such as Google, Coca-Cola, and Channel 4.
The firm also has an original approach to social media and marketing. Not only does it allow its trainees to post public messages from an uncensored collective Instagram account — @LifeInALawFirm — that are as likely to feature jokey posts about late night bundling as on-message graduate recruitment tweets, but RPC also counts the award-winning alt-pop artist, Maya Yenn, amongst the ranks of its marketing team.
The internal set-up of RPC’s “beautiful” glass and steel office can feel more tech company than law firm at times. Simply put, it is a “scenic location and lots of glass” with the “impressive” London office looking over the Tower of London and St Katherine’s Docks. The Bristol base is also said to be “very stylish”, with a practical layout offering lots of space and a balcony “which is lovely in the summer”. Both offices have recently been refurbished, which has also gone down well. And these offices encourage collegiality. One insider reports: “The open plan office and mixed pods mean you sit with anyone from paralegals to partners (including the managing partner) and questions are positively encouraged.”
It’s no coincidence that RPC has scored consistently strongly for partner approachability in the Legal Cheek Trainee and Junior Lawyer Survey. “There’s no hierarchy or delegation through associates. Partners will call you directly and ask for your thoughts which is a great learning opportunity” one rookie tells us, whilst another gushes that the “best part of being at the firm is the people and their approachability”. One lucky trainee even reports that a partner once joined them for lunch — “unscheduled” — imagine that!
In recent times, the firm ditched its all-equity partnership structure, making the partnership more flexible and somewhat boosting profit per equity partner (PEP). This explains RPC’s explosive 50% PEP rise from £424,000 to £634,000 in 2020-21. Since then, however, PEP has fallen to £489,000, dropping 14% this year, after a 10% drop in 2021-22. Revenue, however, is up 5%, climbing to £157.4 million. A striking metaphor for the firm’s growth over the past decade is the Bristol office’s tenfold growth in headcount by its tenth anniversary last year. The firm also has offices in Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as access to other international clients via its TerraLex network.
Trainees are known to be a “close-knit bunch” who insiders tell us help to foster a “supportive and understanding environment”. “Genuinely the best support you could ask for. Trainees are all friends and there’s no competitive vibe, even during the qualification process” says one. Another explains how “the relatively small intake size means that I have had a very supportive intake on which to lean on through my training contract”.
And this fairly small London intake of 15, which gives the TC experience a personal touch, doesn’t seem to have been changed by the addition of four Bristol training contracts a few years ago. One trainee says the quality of training and support can be “very seat dependent” however “my personal experience has been of lots of variety, real responsibility, and a readiness to provide feedback”.
Another describes their experience like this: “I have been given tasks to develop different skills I will need as a solicitor, including a variety of interesting tasks like making without prejudice phone calls, drafting pleadings and running a few of my own matters. I have received close supervision to make sure I’m doing things properly and have received really useful feedback to explain why some pieces of work should be done differently or how they can be improved. There is also an extensive training programme with internal and external trainers relating to different skills which has been really useful”. On top of all this, there are always opportunities to learn more through observing senior lawyers, attending court, attending training sessions and webinars and contributing to articles amongst other things.
Rookies are also known to get experience on cases that are “very high-profile and front-page news”, such as work advising Associated Newspapers in the claim brought against them by the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle. That said, there is also your fair share of grunt work to be done. “Some of the work is incredibly stimulating, but as a trainee there are a fair amount of trainee-typical tasks,” one insider told Legal Cheek.
Traditionally, most of RPC’s secondments are with clients, and that still remains the case, with lawyers from the firm spending time at the likes of Google, Meta, Coca Cola, Channel 4 and various global insurance companies such as AXIS Capital — just to name a few. Some international secondments are also available with rookies reporting six-month stints in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Some trainees are known to be so in love with their work that they can lose control of their work/life balance: “My work-life balance is pretty good. My main problem is that I am offered (with rarely an obligation to pick up) interesting work that I don’t want to turn down, which has led to me having a bit too much work! My supervisors are really keen to protect my work/life balance though and are helping me to manage my capacity”.
On the whole though, work/life balance is reasonable; an average start time of around 9am and average finish time of around 7pm equates to a ten-hour day. Note, however, some variations between departments. “For the most part, my work-life balance has been as expected, with an average start time of 9am and finish time of 7pm. During busier periods I have had to work some later nights and weekends, but in my experience this is not the norm and is not expected unless absolutely necessary. There is no face-time culture at the firm”, summarises one. Trainees also have complete flexibility about whether they want to work from home and a £150 budget for WFH equipment.
Client-facing tech is pretty good, with the firm recently releasing an app, dubbed RPC Raid Response, that allows clients round-the-clock legal support and advice in the event of a dawn raid from regulators or cyber-attack. Internally, however, the tech “does leave a bit to be desired”, though we’re told improvements are on the way.
Perks are fairly run-of-the-mill for a City law firm, with staff able to take advantage of a private healthcare programme, a mortgage advisor, HelloSelf membership and weekly classes including Yoga. There’s also apparently great coffee machines, good biscuit choice, fresh fruit on Tuesdays, bring your dog to work day (a trend that certain dog-loving City firms seem to be latching onto) and free food and drinks on the first Thursday of every month! In line with recent pay rises seen across City law firms, RPC has upped NQ salaries in London to £85,000 for those qualifying into the commercial group, and £80,000 for those qualifying into insurance. Bristol qualifiers can expect £56,000 a year.